"Out Of The Blue" (Neko Book 4) *ABANDONED* Summary posted.

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Re: The Neko Story: Book 1 (...And Nakai Makes Three) releas

Post by NekoDude » Fri Feb 14, 2014 11:27 am

edruil wrote:I can't say I'm a huge fan of your Neutral Evil Miki, and the "all the wealthy families at Yamaku are involved in drug cartels" plot point has been taxing my suspension of disbelief. Those aside, the writing is significantly improved from the initial iterations of this story that you posted on the forums months ago, and you managed to keep my attention through over 300 pages of text, which is no mean feat when it comes to fanfiction. I will be looking forward to the next release
I never said all the wealthy families were involved in drug cartels, merely organized crime of some sort. They're in business, and if you dig deep enough, there's very little big business in Japan that wasn't at least dirty at some point in the past. It's still going on today.

That said, there are some levels of organized crime that are worse than others. Smuggling for the avoidance of taxes might be on the lesser end of the spectrum, human trafficking on the opposite end. As you will find out, there are certain things that even my most amoral characters simply will not tolerate.
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Actual text of "...And Nakai Makes Three" (Prologue)

Post by NekoDude » Mon Feb 17, 2014 1:19 am

A NOTE ON TRANSLATION

As this story takes place primarily in Japan, it should be assumed that the vast majority of what you read has been translated. However, text enclosed in «double brackets» is untranslated and was spoken (or thought, or written) exactly as it appears. If this text is in English, that means the character was speaking or thinking in English and not Japanese. If it is in any other language, the same rule applies. Languages written in other alphabets (if any) will be transliterated to the Latin alphabet.

Portions taking place entirely in English-speaking regions are not marked, as no translation would be expected.

-----------------------

PROLOGUE

Maria. Don’t cry, Maria. I promise I won’t let him hurt you. He wouldn’t dare when we’re together. Stay with me, and we’ll both be safe.


That’s what I told her, and I meant it, but even I couldn't save her in the end. Is the only way out of his clutches to die? This can't be the only solution.

¡Madre de Dios! He’s drunk again. Or still. I can’t tell the difference any more. The television blares in Spanish, then I hear my door open. I can see the light thrown onto the wall from the flickering screen when I open my eyes, but that is soon extinguished as the door closes again.

I can smell the beer on his breath as he takes a seat on the edge of my bed. If I just let myself go someplace else for a while, maybe this won’t be so bad. Maybe I can remember when I was just the unwanted half-sister, living on a small farm in northern Okinawa. Things were hard, but at least I was allowed to fight back.

“Come on baby, you want daddy to be happy, right? Just show me a little love. I know you love me, and you know I love you.” If this is love, I want no part of it. But it’s not like I have a choice. Either I ‘show a little love’, or I get beat to a pulp and have it extracted from me.

***

He’s waiting for me on the walk home again, too drunk to risk being seen by the school or the other parents.

“Come on baby, daddy needs you to take the wheel. I’ve had just a little too much to drink.” It’s a familiar routine, and it’s one I actually don’t mind so much. He never does anything to hurt me when I’m in control of his precious hoopty. It’s a retired police Caprice that long ago saw better days, but somehow he keeps it rolling with duct tape and coat hangers. Native American Engineering, we called it.

I climb in on the driver’s side, and he slides across to the other side. I can barely see over the dashboard. This time he’s done me the courtesy of fouling the driver’s side floor pan with his liquid lunch. I take the back roads as always, to avoid being spotted, until I’m sure he’s passed out. I even make a few hard braking maneuvers, and watch him flop around like a rag doll. Today. It has to be today.

Instead of taking the rural route back to our trailer, I turn right and head for the mountains. I don’t have to go very far to find the lookout point on the way up. I pull off the road and put the car in Park.

“This is for you, Maria.” I kiss him on the forehead and climb out of the car, putting it back into Drive on the way out. Then I start the long walk home, glancing back only once to make sure the car is gone. Night comes fast in the desert in November.

-----------------------

THE DREAD PIRATE ROGERS

«What kind of rat bastard psychotic is hammering at 7 am on a Sunday, at this moment?» I try to pull my spare pillow over my head, but I realize the pounding is coming from inside my head, not outside the room. Dust motes dance in a laser beam of sunlight streaming through my window, causing a green and white glint as it refracts through something at the corner of my eye. Rolling back slightly to get a better look, I see that there is a bottle of Midori on the nightstand, about two thirds empty. It has a fallen brother on the floor. I also notice that there is something – no, make that someone – lying behind me.

Miki is blissfully unaware of the ruckus in my head, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to suffer through this indignity alone. I toss back the covers and slowly raise myself to a vertical position, taking great care not to accelerate the inevitable nausea that comes with a solid hangover. After a glance down to make sure I’m not completely exposing myself to the world, I hop across the room and draw the curtains tightly shut.

Much better. At least now my head is being split from merely one direction rather than two.

While assembling myself for the morning pilgrimage to the bathroom, I see a third, unidentified empty bottle has rolled into a corner. I don’t remember drinking that much last night, but frankly, I’m a little fuzzy on the whole event. I stop to conceal the dead soldiers in a paper bag and toss the partial into my fridge. I set my alarm clock to roughly emulate a 747 at takeoff two minutes from now and hightail it out of there as fast as one leg will take me.

I’m still brushing the taste of death out of my mouth when the bathroom door opens, then slams shut.

“The fuck was that, gaylord?”

I keep brushing, spit, rinse, spit again. “Oh dear, did I wake up before the alarm again? Sorry about that.”

She pushes her way past me toward the shower area, pausing long enough to thump me on the back of the head with her stump. “Have I told you lately that you totally suck?”

“Only daily. Or when you want me to suck harder.”

She brushes her teeth in the shower, which is a damn fine sight well worth the waste of water, then lathers up. I feast my eyes on her graceful and athletic (yet still nicely bouncy) curves and bronzed tone and realize I haven’t forgotten all of last night’s events. I hang my nightshirt over a hook and heel-toe my way into the shower as well. Hopping on wet tiles with a hangover is likely to earn me a concussion. “Make way for the Dread Pirate Rogers,” I say as I slide up against her back. “Or not.”

She turns to face me and makes a show of raising her arms behind her head and stretching. I’d kill for a figure like that, and she knows it. She puts her twelve cm height advantage over me to good use as she flaunts her assets at eye level.

Although the past year has seen her make great strides at living with one hand, she’s still got some catching up to do when it comes to creative use of a stump. Turning my short stature to my advantage, I take the opportunity to remind her of that fact. Her moans seem to indicate that she appreciates the lesson, but she interposes her hand and whispers, “Not here, not now. I have to check on Snoozu.”

“Have I told you lately that you totally suck?” I give her nipple a pinch as she steps out of the shower. She doesn’t even appear to have a hangover. Bitch.

***

I tell myself it isn’t all bad as I busy myself making breakfast. The toaster hums softly and the coffeemaker crackles and spits the last of its water into the filter. I take this chance to reflect on the things we have in common, like our love for cheap booze, kind buds, and hot bacon. It’s very difficult indeed not to love bacon still steaming from the pan. There is also a twisted satisfaction to be gained from filling the dorm hallways with the scent, knowing we’re near the first to arise. For every strip I fry, I probably create a dozen dreams and a dozen disappointed dreamers when they awake.

I pile the steaming slices of salt-cured bliss onto a doubled paper plate, showing extreme self-restraint by sampling just one along the way, then quickly fry three eggs over easy in the bacon grease. After transferring them to their own plate and pouring the remaining contents of the pan into a fold-out takeaway container, I gather up the toast and coffee. Grabbing a small carton of milk from the communal fridge, I decide someone could use breakfast in bed. Good thing the cart is in the corner. It is more typical for it to go missing over the course of a long Saturday night, to re-appear somewhere around noon. Knocking at the door marked “Suzuki,” I half-shout “«Room Service!»” The door opens a crack, and Miki’s initial confusion turns to joy.

“I have decided that you suck slightly less than I previously thought,” she deadpans as she lets me in.

Suzu’s room is, as usual, a complete disaster. The desk is piled high with enough books to make Yuuko blush, and there are stuffed animals and pillows strewn about the floor (along with piles of clothing) as if her bed companions were in a hurry to flee some oncoming disaster. Maybe they just don’t fit, since there seem to be as many still on the bed behind her as she sits on the edge gathering her wits. She wears a pink nightshirt with a bright yellow sunflower. The print below reads «SO HAPPY DAY!»

“Wake up and smell the coffee! Or don’t, I’m sure I could drink it all myself if necessary.”

“Not a chance,” retorts Miki as she breaks off half a strip of bacon and starts chewing on it, then starts pouring three cups of coffee. She appears slightly unsteady, and it occurs to me why she’s so cheery and devoid of hangover symptoms: she’s still slightly drunk. Oh well, I’ll laugh at her later. You can only dodge the tax man for so long.

Suzu spots an open jar and dips in with a plastic spoon, then pops the heap of brown into her mouth and immediately retches while I suppress the desire to giggle. Miki pretends not to be watching the show as she adds sugar and milk to each cup.

“It’s Vegemite, love, not Nutella. You might want to look at labels once in a while.”

Despite her initial reaction, she makes a point of rolling the paste around in her mouth and even licks the spoon clean before saying, “That’s the most god-awful thing I’ve ever tasted.”

“You just don’t know a fine imported delicacy when you find one, you bloody barbarian. Besides, you just ate enough for two or three slices of toast all at one go.”

“Or an entire lifetime.” She’s still willing to try an appropriately thin spread across one slice of buttered toast, but after one bite says “Nope, it still tastes like ass. It’s all yours.” Miki shrugs and finishes it for her between sips of coffee. I keep to myself the fact that I don’t care for it all that much either, despite growing up with it.

The things we do for love.
Last edited by NekoDude on Tue Feb 18, 2014 9:44 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The Neko Story: Book 1 (...And Nakai Makes Three) releas

Post by NekoDude » Mon Feb 17, 2014 1:27 am

MIKI

“You sure you’re cool?” I ask Snoozu as she stretches and yawns.

“I am so amazingly cool you could keep a side of meat in me.”

“What are your plans, anyhow?” It might be easier to catch up with her later if I had some idea where she might be headed now. Then again, with her tendency to, well, crash in unlikely places, maybe not.

“I don’t really have any plans, that way I can’t be disappointed. «The best-laid plans of mice and men oft go astray.»” She yawns again. “But I’ll probably end up in the library.”

Big shock there. “Alrighty, is there anything you want me to pick up for you?”

“Tank Fuel, if you can find it.”

I shudder at the thought, but they’re not my taste buds. “Mmm-kay, I’ll see what I can do.”

After collecting up the morning’s debris, I return the wheeled cart to the common room and head to the track, hoping maybe there’s still time to get in a few sprints. Alas, the stands are full of parents and townsfolk, and the infield is being prepared for some sort of show, maybe a taiko drum troupe and some dancers. It’s not likely the track will be any more accessible the rest of the day either. So much for training today. I call Silent Bob to see what he might be up to. “You up yet, Ishinabe?”

“Just barely. Wanna have a safety meeting?”

You read my mind. “Count me in. Roof’s probably occupied though.”

“Oh, yeah, probably. Track?”

“No way dude. It’s swarming like ants at a picnic.”

“Hmm. Fuck it, just come over, we’ll figure out something.” He hangs up.

I spend the walk imagining where we might be able to get away from the crowd on a day like this. It seems like the entire town has come up the hill for the festival.

I knock on Seiji’s door. “C’mon in!” I do. He’s at the window with a pair of binoculars, looking up into the hills and trails that partially surround the campus. Even just looking out the window, he has on his ever-present sunglasses. “Maybe we should just go for a walk and see if there’s a good spot to meet Old Sparky, unless you have a better idea.”

“I got nothin’. Let’s do it.”

He pulls a mint tin from the desk drawer and pockets it, hangs his binoculars around his neck, and we’re off. It takes a while to find a likely spot, and even then we spend a few minutes in silence to make sure we’re really alone. He thinks he’s sly, the way he glances at me, but I know when someone is undressing me with their eyes. Even dark-tinted aviators aren’t able to hide that. Finally, he retrieves the mint tin from his pocket and pulls out a lighter and a small pipe made of soap stone. “Seems clear, but we might want to hit and run anyhow.” I nod, and he sparks the bowl, hits, and passes both items to me. I follow in turn, balancing the pipe on the bandaged part of my arm and sparking the lighter with my hand.

“Not bad.” Actually it’s pretty good. He has the gear packed away again before we even exhale, the lid of the tin snuffing out the bowl as he closes it.

“Best we keep moving.” Before long, we find ourselves emerging from the trees around the hiking trail onto a rocky outcrop that overlooks the town below. “It’s here or nowhere I think.” I just shrug. Thinking is exactly what I came here not to do.

***

“So if you can’t get your running fix, you need something else to calm your head?” Seiji asks, then sparks.

I nod, then answer when I’m ready to exhale. “Shit’s just too real sometimes, you know what I mean?”

“Totally.”

We sit in silence for a while, just watching the remaining townsfolk below, looking for all the world like a flea circus. I wonder if this is how the gods see us all the time. Finally, Seiji says, “I missed breakfast. Wanna grab something from the festival?”

“Hmm…” I glance at my phone for the time. “Nah, I think I’ll head into town, Suzu wanted something. Unless I wanna go that way,” I say while gesturing over the ledge, “it’s easier to cut through campus. I’ll walk back with you.”

The walk back is quiet and uneventful. Seiji used to stoner-rant a lot about everything and nothing, but I guess he got tired of doing it alone. Now he tends to be as quiet as me during our safety meetings. As we pass the track on the way back through, there is some sort of acrobatic exhibition taking place that catches his attention. I give him a pat on the back and take my leave.

The walk down the hill never does take me very long, at least alone. At the Aura Mart, I grab a can of sweet coffee and a couple sticky buns for myself, and two tall cans of Tank Fuel for Suzu. There is no line. I place the basket on the counter and as the clerk rings me up he asks, “You want a bag for that?” I cross my arms so as to make my missing hand as apparent as possible and just wait. Finally he looks up and says “Oh, yeah, right,” and bags my purchase while I dig out my debit card. Thanks Dante.

I don’t really feel like going back to the campus yet, so I head for the park and chill out under a tree for a while, munching on a sticky bun. I sit and watch the flow of people passing by and through the park, and the traffic along the road. It looks so very different from down here, being in the middle of it. Everything is a lot bigger, that’s for sure, but somehow it seems no more real. Individuals and couples go by, absorbed in their own thoughts and lives, giving me hardly a glance. An old woman throws bread crumbs to pigeons. A bus stops and discharges its passengers. For a brief moment the park seems alive, but soon enough they have gone their separate ways, and the calm returns.

I open my coffee and make it last a while, but there is really nothing for me here. It is peaceful, but somehow it is not the type of peace I am seeking. I might as well track down Suzu and deliver her asskicking-in-a-can before it can get too warm. I stand, stretch, and start the walk back.

Back on campus, the environment has already changed noticeably. There is a lot less activity around the booths, and more centered on the track area where some sort of concert seems to be going on. Noise is exactly what I do not need right now, so I head into the main building. As I expected, I find Suzu in the library. Also as I expected, she has passed out in a bean bag chair with a book in her hand.
I set down the goodies bag and pull up another bean bag chair next to her. “Suzu… hey doll…” I give her shoulder a gentle squeeze, and one eye half-opens. “I come bearing gifts.” I set aside my remaining sticky bun and pass the rest of the bag and contents to her. “This should keep you going for a while.”

Suzu looks at me for a while with a heavy-lidded and weary expression, clutching onto the book with one hand and the bag with the other. Then she looks inside and says “Oh! Thank you.”

“No sweat, doll! Anything to make you happy.”

Just then, I hear animated conversation from the stairwell outside.

“Hey... instead of me explaining it to you, why don't I just show you?" I’d know Neko’s voice anywhere. Who else around here speaks Japanese with a faint Australian accent?

“But... dinner?” I can’t quite place this second voice, although it is familiar.

“We have time to get to town, eat, get back, and still make it back here. It’ll be a perfect place…” The echo and footsteps in the stairwell reduce the rest to noise.
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Re: The Neko Story: Book 1 (...And Nakai Makes Three) releas

Post by NekoDude » Mon Feb 17, 2014 1:31 am

MASTER OF ROMANCE

On the day of the festival, it looks like I’m alone as usual. Nurse would undoubtedly scold me if I were to sample the various, mostly fried and unhealthy foods for sale, so it looks like I’ll be having a picnic with Kenji. I can only hope he’s gotten enough of his feminist ranting out of his system to allow me to enjoy the day.

As I climb the stairs to the roof, I have to stop several times to catch my breath. To my surprise, I come across a girl who appears to be doing the exact same thing at one of the landings. She catches sight of me and asks between rapid breaths, “Up, or down?” I take as close a look as politeness will allow. She’s perhaps fifteen cm shorter than me, a bit curvy but in a good way, and has a wave to her shoulder-length jet black hair. Beneath her skirt she is wearing stockings that rise above the knees, which seems a bit odd for such a warm day.

“Up. I’ve got nowhere in particular to be and almost nobody to be nowhere with, so I thought I’d head up to the roof. Maybe that way I’ll grab a seat for the fireworks later before the place fills up.”

She shakes her head followed by an upward gesture, saying “Only one guy there, no rush. I was just up there myself. I find going up stairs to be easier than coming back down them, and I don’t need a tumble today. The handrails... well, it kinda helps…” She raises her left arm to reveal a split hook, and adds “...when there’s a hand to put on the rail.” She shrugs and smiles, and slides to the ground at the base of the wall she had been leaning on.

My lightheadedness from the stair climb has mostly subsided, but I find myself a bit stunned at the gesture. There seems to be an unwritten protocol that you don’t discuss these things before you even know someone’s name. “Um, I, uh…” I manage to sputter, making a few meaningless gestures.

“Cat got your tongue? I suppose you could start with your name.”

“Nakai. Hisao Nakai,” I offer, and I give a small bow while politely not looking at her hook and pretending not to notice the way she fills out her blouse.

“«Bond. James Bond,»” she retorts with mock gravitas, laughs, then stifles the laugh with her forearm over her mouth. “Katelyn Rogers, ‘Kat’ for short, but everyone here calls me Neko. Do you like coffee? I know where to find the best! Or best around here anyhow.”

“I, uh, yeah, that would be nice. It’s hardly past noon and I’m already dragging.”

“Mind helping me up?” She reaches a hand toward me, this one flesh and blood.

As we start back down the stairs, she takes them sideways rather than one leg in front of the other. It’s slow going, and she says, “I can take them quite a bit faster if you don’t mind me leaning on you.” I try to smile and nod casually, and she holds out the prosthetic arm for me to link with. “I’d much rather keep my hand free, in case things start to go pear-shaped.”

Neko stays close to the wall and hovers her hand over the outside rail but only occasionally grabs it. I seem to be enough stabilization to keep her from that unwanted tumble, and she is able to descend in a forward-facing, foot-over-foot manner. As we get to the bottom, there are a few people milling about, and Neko waves her good arm to a small group. The split hook opens and closes, seemingly of its own accord, with a quiet clicking sound.

Once on level ground, the pace quickens considerably and she no longer needs my support. Raising her arms in front of her, she shambles like a zombie toward a festival stall, chanting cooooffffeeeeee in a monotone voice. I let her charge ahead, since I’m fairly certain of which stall she’s headed for. The crowd is currently not excessive, yet I weave my way slowly through it, taking great care not to bump into anyone. When I manage to get there she’s nowhere to be seen.

From behind me, I hear an unfamiliar voice say “Looking for someone, Nakai?”

I spin around to see Neko holding a carry-out box with two iced coffees in it, complete with whipped cream and powdered chocolate on top. “Whoa, you had me fooled there for a second!” I say, as she spins the box to let me pull one cup out. There’s an alluring glint as the sun catches the corners of her eyes, revealing them to be a stunning emerald green.

“Good! I like to keep in practice,” she replies in her normal voice as we make our way to a nearby bench. “I’m not real good at not being seen, so instead I’ve had to learn to be seen but not noticed, and if noticed then not recognized.”

“Are you training to be a secret agent or something? Is that why you called yourself James Bond?”

“HAA! No, that was just me thinking about your overly formal introduction. Any time someone introduces himself the way you did, I think of ‘James Bond’. I don’t usually say it out loud though!”

I take a sip of the iced coffee. She wasn’t wrong, it is some damn good coffee, if you like it sweet and creamy. Neko’s phone buzzes. Glancing at it, she smiles, then frowns, then smiles again.

“So, I didn’t expect you to pay for my drink. What do I owe you?”

“Dinner will do,” she says with a wink and presses a slip of paper into my hand as she stands up. “Right now I have some business to catch up on, but I’ll be free a bit later.” After taking a few steps she turns and makes the universal thumb-to-ear, pinky-to-chin “call me” gesture before continuing on her way.

I gaze at the scrap of pink paper with (0)3 8675-3099 =^_^= written in neat red print. I can only guess she filled it out while standing in line. I wonder exactly when I’m supposed to call, but I decide there’s no better time than the present. At least it will get my number into her phone and allow us to text. After three rings, it goes to voice mail. The outgoing message sounds like Neko, but I only understand a small fraction of it as it’s in a dialect of English I’m not familiar with – and English is far from my best subject to begin with.

“Neko, it’s... Nakai. Hisao Nakai.” She seemed amused enough by this before, I might as well use it again. “I wanted to get this to you as soon as I could, so you’d be able to reach me back when you’re done with whatever it was you needed to do.” After a pause I add, “Please let me know if you have an idea where you want to go... because I don’t.”

I wander among the crowd on my own, pausing to look at the offerings from each booth. Nurse was right, everything here is bad for me. Unfortunately, the smell is too much to resist, and I end up with a bowl of good but not great oyako donburi. At least it’s not fried, maybe it won’t kill me.

After a while, I head back up to the roof as I originally intended, only this time to let Kenji know I’d made other plans.

“Who goes there? What’s the password?” demands a voice from amidst a pile of blankets.

“It’s Hisao, and you didn’t give me a password. You want me to make one up?”

A disheveled face with the familiar coke-bottle glasses appears from the approximate center of the blanket pile. So does a bottle with a black label and an amber-orange liquid. Kenji leans toward me, then away, then toward me again, blinks twice, and says “You’re late.”

And you’re drunk. What I actually say is, “Not really, fireworks are still an hour or two away and you still have the roof to yourself.”

“Then why does the door keep opening?”

“How would I know? I just got here myself. But it doesn’t matter, I’m not staying."

Kenji takes a pull from his bottle, then offers it to me. I politely decline as he starts to speak. “They got to you already? Shit man, I can’t even keep the new guy out of their clutches for a whole week, how am I ever going to infiltrate their network? Don’t tell me they’ve tapped into your life force already! Even if they have, it’s not too late. I escaped before they could devour me!”

“What.”

“You know who I mean!” He takes great pains to look in every direction but it seems more comical than functional. I quite doubt that he can see if there is anyone else on the roof, let alone who they might be if they were there. “Fine. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.” He disappears back into the blanket pile.

As I turn to leave, my phone alerts me to an incoming text. “They tracked you here! Get! Get! I’m not here! Go away!” Kenji begins pounding on my foot with an empty bottle.

I wait until I’m well inside the building and on the way down before stopping to look at the text. It’s from Neko: “Sorry, sporadic E couldn’t wait. Phone was off. Where are you?”

I have no idea what a ‘sporadic E’ is, but I text back that I’m pretty much in the same place she originally found me. Looking through the stairwell windows, I can see that the sun is beginning to drop behind the booths. Some of them are packing up for the day, and the crowd continues to thin out. My phone buzzes again. “Good, stay put. See you in 5.”

A few minutes later, Neko comes down the staircase from the roof, descending with caution as before. Was she up there the entire time, watching my exchange with Kenji and waiting for the right moment to intercede? I don’t recall seeing anyone else – the roof was clear from the blanket pile all the way across to the small cinderblock room at the far corner.

She is still a couple stairs from the landing when she launches into a rapid-fire prattle. “Lithuania! Eight thousand kilometers on 6 meters, with a hundred watts and a mismatched antenna! He’s sending me a QSL card!” Neko’s excitement is palpable, and her smile is more like 1000 watts. She extends her left arm for my assistance and we continue the descent of the stairs together.

I haven’t the foggiest notion what this means, but I decide to play along. “So you were talking to Sporadic E, in Lithuania, through a window that was closing. Huh. Would I know him from anywhere, like does he make records or something?”

Neko sighs heavily and pouts. “I guess I have to explain. Many amateur radio enthusiasts, myself included, try to reach people in as many countries as we possibly can. It’s like a badge of honor. In fact, you get a badge if you can prove you reached one hundred countries. So now I have twenty-seven, but this is the furthest one I’ve reached on 6 meters!”

“And this has something to do with sporadic E?”

“Yes! Exactly!” Then she sees that although I spoke the words, I have no idea what I just said. “Okay, have you ever heard of picking up TV stations from way, way far away? Ones you didn’t even know existed until they just show up on what should be a vacant channel?” I nod, as this is something I’ve heard of. “That’s sporadic E. It means there’s a special cloud reflecting the signal instead of it shooting into space. It’s not incredibly rare, but it’s far from common, and it only lasts maybe twenty minutes at a time. I used it to talk to someone in Lithuania, who happened to be aimed at the same cloud at the same time. The other guys are gonna be soooo mad that they missed it!”

“Other guys?”

“The radio club. With five people sharing one rig, we have to take every opportunity that presents itself. Generally when these things happen, it’s someone else’s turn. So it was today... but Hideki passed on it to chow down on teppanyaki. I owe him one!”

“So you take turns trying to reach people as far away as you can? Is that the idea?”

“Well, no... Of those of us who can work solo, I’m the only one who speaks good English, and it’s pretty much the lingua franca of international amateur radio. The others pretty much use their time slots for rag chewing with other people in Japan.”

This time a raised eyebrow is sufficient to show that I missed something.

“Rag chewing – just hogging up the airtime talking about everything and nothing. There’s nothing wrong with it per se, but it’s time they aren’t using to DX.” Up goes the eyebrow again. Neko sighs. “You’re cute when you do that, but don’t wear it out. DX – long distance contact. Hey... instead of me explaining it to you, why don’t I just show you?”

“But... dinner?”

“We have time to get to town, eat, get back, and still make it back here. It’ll be a perfect place to watch the fireworks from too!”

“I take it, then, that you have a place in mind already?”

“Best bento in town! Or at least the best I’ve found so far.”
Last edited by NekoDude on Tue Feb 18, 2014 4:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Neko Story: Book 1 (...And Nakai Makes Three) releas

Post by NekoDude » Mon Feb 17, 2014 1:38 am

NEKO

I text our orders in advance to save the twenty minutes or so we would otherwise be waiting for our meals to be prepared. I wouldn't mind spending those twenty minutes at a table with the bishonen on my arm, but the schedule is somewhat tight if we are going to catch those fireworks from the radio tower. Although hills don’t bother me near as much as stairs, I still use the slope as an excuse to get closer than absolutely necessary.

“So Neko, I’ve been meaning to ask you something.” Uh-oh. “Why do you speak such good English?”

Oh, is that all? I relax. “Simple. Pops is Australian. Mum and I are Japanese citizens, but he still isn’t since Japan doesn’t recognize dual citizenship and he doesn’t want to relinquish his Aussie passport.”

“You don’t look foreign though, I would expect European roots to show through a bit more.”

“They do,” I say and make a hair-twirling gesture. “I don’t curl it. Besides, he’s of mixed parentage himself. His mother, my grandmother, is Korean.”

“So you’re half-Japanese, a quarter Korean, and a quarter…”

“A quarter nobody-knows-what. We don’t think it’s aboriginal blood, but his family history is kind of a foggy subject. Gramps was an orphan, and his records were lost in a fire before he could read. Nobody knows what his ancestry was. Even our family name, ‘Rogers’, is plucked more or less from thin air.” I stumble slightly over a stone and find he is quick to catch me.

“I’m sorry…”

“Don’t be sorry about things you had nothing to do with. Besides, it’s not like I’m going to accidentally marry my half-brother or something because of the lost records. It’s vaguely frustrating, but ultimately not all that important. It’s kind of interesting to be a human bento box. What about you, do you have some interesting story to tell about your past?”

“I... well I suppose that depends on your idea of ‘interesting’. Your life seems quite a bit more exciting than mine." He seems to be choosing his next words carefully. "I seemed to be a normal boy doing boring things with ordinary friends, until I wasn’t any more. Now I’m here. Seems pretty boring, when you can travel the world with just a radio.”

“Then I’ll make you a deal. I’ll reveal some of my exciting life later, and you reveal some of yours. But now, we eat – because we’re here.”

Our meal passes in near-silence, both because the food is good and because we are in somewhat of a hurry. I ask that our edamame be packed in a paper box to take with us, and slip it into my small purse. We find ourselves back on the street just as the last glimmer of sun slips below the horizon.

“I think we’re going to have to hustle, unless you have enough pull to keep them from starting without us.”

“Me? Pull? I’ve barely been here a week, what kind of pull would I…”

I resort to my best impersonation of Misha. “WAHAHAHA~!” Judging by his astonished reaction, he obviously gets it. “I’ve seen you getting dragged around by the student council, couldn’t you tell them to wait for us?”

“Oh sure, I could tell them anything you want. Won’t matter, the fireworks are run by a hired crew, and they’re going to do this on their own schedule.”

Oh well, a girl can try.

On the way back up to the gates, it is Hisao that is having difficulty. Several times he has to stop to catch his breath, each such time coming after successively shorter intervals even though the slope is flattening out.

“Hisao, is there something wrong? Do we need to stop? Do you need help?”

He is bent at the waist, one hand on his knee, but he shakes his head and holds up a hand as if to indicate that this is somehow normal. We continue after about thirty seconds, making it back to the gates of Yamaku just as the first test fireworks are shot into the air.

Damn. “We have about a minute and a half before they start for real, maybe we should find a decent place to watch from down here. We’ll never make it back to the radio tower in time, let alone get up it.”

Hisao nods his agreement and we find a bench where he half-stumbles to a seat. Something is most certainly amiss. I take a seat next to him and place two fingers to his neck. His pulse is racing and erratic, and his skin feels as if it were about to catch fire. “Bloody hell! Are you sure you’re alright, Hisao?”

He nods and forces a smile. “I will be, soon enough.”

A flash of light is followed by a thunderous BOOM. Then another, and another. Soon the sky is ablaze with sparks and a diffuse glow from the lingering smoke. I clasp his hand in mine and try to tell myself it’s just to keep tabs on him, as a familiar tune fills my thoughts.

«I can show you the world
Shining, shimmering, splendid.
Tell me princess,
When did you last let your heart decide?»


----------------------- 

THE FASTEST THING ON NO LEGS

Dawn sets the world alight, but color sleeps in.

The sky begins an emotionless shade of gray, turning to pastel crimson hues on the horizon. I make an effort to stretch just a little further, and hold it just a little longer, any time I notice the team captain glance in my direction – which he does often enough, despite his stated preferences. I don’t even bother pretending not to stare. He’s fully aware how I feel about him.

“Not happening, Ibarazaki,” says Miki as she takes a seat beside me in the stands.

“Yeah, yeah, like I needed a reminder. Since when do you run in the morning?”

“Since I started to sleep alone, I guess.”

“Huh. Something amiss between you and your miss?” I smile despite the weakness of my pun. “Or did you need a night off to make sure you slept sometime?

“Damn, Emi, you really need to get laid.”

“What can I say, I have a knack for picking ‘em,” I say as I tip my head in Kenta’s direction and rise to head down to the track.

“Not every boy here is a gaylord, and most of them are easy to catch. A lot of them won’t even see you coming, if you’re into that sort of thing.” She grins at me evilly.

Easy for you to say. She could catch the eye of just about any boy she chose, and have him wrapped around her finger by afternoon. She could probably do as well with any of the girls that swing that way, though it might not be her finger they’d be wrapped around. No, let’s not go down that road, it only leads to trouble.

Once on the track, I catch up with Kenta easily. He never seems to be pressing outside of wind sprints, but I suppose that’s the life of a distance runner. He’ll likely put in four times my distance over the course of the day. A few laps later, I catch him again. “Good work, keep it up!” he offers in encouragement as I pass on the outside. The one I can’t catch, contrary to my expectations, is Miki. No matter how I try, she remains exactly half a lap ahead of or behind me, depending how you want to look at it. If that’s her training pace, maybe I need to keep closer tabs on her.

As our morning run time winds down, I pour on the speed as if making a final push. I notice my rival doing the same, and I manage to gain about ten meters on her over the course of our final lap. It looks like my role as the anchor leg on the relay team remains secure. Back in the locker room, I can’t resist the temptation to needle her just a bit. “Still haven’t found fifth gear, huh?”

“More like I can’t downshift into third. I can keep pace with you all day, but I can’t match your turnover rate when you sprint. Never have, never will, and longer legs aren’t enough to make up the difference.” As we head back toward the main building, she takes the chance to speak to me one-on-one. “What do you think of the new kid in town?”

“Nakai? Nurse got him to run with me in the morning for a bit, but his heart wasn’t in it.” I don’t mention that I almost ran him into the ground. I still feel bad about that.

“I don’t know, I think he would if he could. You might try that stretching routine in front of him, it might give him cause to reconsider.” She has a point. I might have to work harder at charming someone than she does, but I do know how. Maybe it’s time I aimed the Emi-beam at a less reflective target.
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Re: The Neko Story: Book 1 (...And Nakai Makes Three) releas

Post by NekoDude » Mon Feb 17, 2014 1:46 am

HISAO

The first couple hours of class pass quickly and uneventfully. Misha and Shizune are absent, probably attending to post-festival council business. Miki keeps shooting glances my way, but doesn’t actually say anything. I can see that she’s clearly itching to ask me something, and I’m not sure I’m prepared with an answer. Just the same, trying to anticipate her question is even more nerve-wracking. Finally I decide to be proactive, shooting her a short and simple note bearing a single word: What?

Her eyes flash as she reads the single word, then she bites her lip in thought and sets to writing. A minute or two later, the paper comes back with a sketch of a cat making a kissy face and a big question mark. I shake my head no, and Miki pouts. Apparently that isn’t what she wanted to hear – not nearly juicy enough.

Before long it’s time for Mutou to trade with Ms. Miyagi, the English teacher. Oh joy, my favorite subject. Still, the change-over gives us all a couple minutes to chatter, and not surprisingly, Miki bends my ear immediately.

“Why not, she not cute enough for you? Or are you scared? That’s it huh, you’re scared, gaylord!”

“Bloody hell! I’ve known her less than twenty-four hours…”

Miki completes my sentence, “...and she already has you talking like her! Just remember kitties have claws. Those of us with only five keep them that much sharper!”

Lunch mercifully arrives before I can fall asleep to endless explanations of irregular verbs and conjugation. «To go, going, goes... went?» Whoever invented this language should be locked up for criminal insanity. I quickly pack everything into my bag and head for the library, being careful not to be crushed in the flow of humanity through the door.

Upon arriving, it appears Hanako has managed to get there ahead of me, and Yuuko is somewhere in the back, if noises of things falling over and mild curse words are any indication. I take a moment to make sure I haven’t missed anyone, when I feel a hand pressed to my back and hear “«Oi!» No parking on the dance floor!” – and this time, I recognize the voice despite all efforts to conceal it.

“Hi Neko, nice of you to make it. Should we grab something in the cafeteria before you give me that tour, or…”

Neko’s expression turns to utter revulsion. “God no, I don’t think they’ve made anything with a flavor since the Berlin Wall fell. I made some real curry. Best we get to it before anyone finds it, I left it warming up on top of the transmitter!”

“So where is this radio room anyhow?”

“Have you seen a small cinderblock room on the roof with an antenna on top?” So that’s what that is. “That’s it. Quick and dirty. It has to be higher than everything else – longer waves reflect off walls and do all sorts of strange things, and shorter waves just curl up and die.”

We make our way up the stairs to the roof. Sunlight pours down from a cloudless sky, and I spot Emi and Rin. I give a quick wave and follow Neko across the roof to a room about four meters square made primarily of cinderblock. The area from about chest height to the roof is dark tinted glass with metal supports, and the roof itself is slightly slanted and overhangs the room itself slightly on three of the four sides. An antenna with three spikes at its base sits atop a pole extending up from one corner of the roof, perched perhaps eight meters above the roofline. Inside, I’m somewhat shocked by what I don’t see. I was expecting stacks of gear, maybe a whole wall of fancy flashing lights. Instead there’s a small desk, two boxes about the size of a quality hi-fi without the speakers, a microphone, and a bundle of cables going up the wall. That’s it. There aren’t even that many knobs on the bigger one, and none at all on the smaller, just a few buttons. There are blinds in the windows (currently raised), and no windows at all on the wall behind the radio desk.

“This is it? You can talk to someone in Lithuania with this?

“Well no, not on an average day, only on exceptional days with exceptional conditions. Best we can hope for today is Korea, China, or maybe Taiwan. We can hear a lot better than that though, wanna see?” I smile and she starts fidgeting with the radio. “First rule of radio club: no transmitting unless a license holder is present. You can listen all you want, but you can’t officially go on the air until you have a license. You’re welcome to sit in and talk when someone with a license is transmitting though. Second rule of radio club: no swearing or music while transmitting, not even in the background. People can and do lose licenses over petty things like that.”

This makes my eyebrow go up again. “But I thought music was on the radio all the time!”

“From professional broadcasters who pay huge licensing fees to be able to do that, yes. We’re amateurs. We don’t pay, there’s no means for us to pay if we wanted to, so we can’t send music. Not even if we wrote it ourselves.”

Neko fiddles with the buttons a bit more and a high-pitched whine first turns into a low-pitched howl, then finally resolves itself into a tinny-sounding voice. It’s in English, but heavily accented and beyond my comprehension. Neko seems satisfied for the moment and says “Third rule of radio club: never leave your lunch unguarded.” She pops the lid from a nicely warmed tray with quite appetizing-looking curry and passes it to me, then tucks into her own. “Never CQ with your mouth full. That’s the fourth rule. Hard enough to understand single sideband as it is.”

While skimming through the 6 meter band, I catch unaccented English and a strong signal, and stop the search. Neko has wandered off momentarily to look for headphones. A distinctly Japanese voice comes through with a callsign, while Neko returns empty-handed. A bit later, we hear two likely Americans offer their own callsigns. We listen to some rag chewing for a bit, then one of the two participants has to leave. Neko doesn’t miss a beat. She thumbs the Transmit button. “«This is JO7PDX, Juliet Oscar Seven, Papa Delta X-Ray. We hear you, a solid S9, are you reading us? Have we reached America? CQ, CQ.»” There was clear excitement in her voice.

“«I’m reading you fine, but sorry to disappoint. We’re on base in Okinawa, not the U.S.»” Ah well, so much for picking up a DX this lunch.

Neko shrugs. “«No problem, thanks for the contact,»” and turns the volume down to zero.

"It’s that easy. Sometimes you get a neighbor, sometimes you get Lithuania."

I realize my own heart is pounding. I had no idea potentially contacting someone on the other side of an ocean, or the planet, could excite me. I mean, I have had e-mail contact with some American penpals, and did my best to keep up with the occasional newsgroup in English, but this was completely different. This was like dialing a random number and getting someone who was as eager to talk to you as you were to talk to them. “I think I see the charm. Count me in.”

Neko squeezes my hand and grins from ear to ear. She passes me a clipboard and pen and says, “Sign on the line for a real good time.”

“What’s this for?”

“License exam in twelve days. You’re smart, it’s easy, don’t worry about it.”

“But I don’t even know what 6 meters means, other than it’s a wavelength.”

She stands up, hand on her hip, and puts on her best ‘stern professor’ voice. “Nakai! What’s the speed of light in a vacuum?” If she had another hand, it would probably be waving a ruler menacingly. I suppose she could always hit me over the head with the prosthetic arm.

“Uh, three hundred thousand kilometers a second or so?”

“Close enough for government work. What is that in meters?”

“Three hundred million.”

She nods. “So a radio wave at three hundred million cycles per second – three hundred megahertz – has a wave how long?”

“One meter?”

She taps me on the nose with a finger while making a DING DING DING DING noise. “«A winner is you!» If you can convert between meters and megahertz, and remember the first two rules from earlier, you’ve already mastered more than half the test. A cakewalk.”

I sign on the dotted line.

-----------------------

SIMPLE LITTLE BOOKWORM

I manage to hear the shuffling of books, giving me barely enough time to avoid the agony of their rapid arrival, but not enough time to avoid hitting my head in the opening of the delivery chute. “Son of a...”

“Oh I’m so sorry, I didn’t know you were back there!” It’s Hisao, giving me puppy-dog eyes that make it hard to stay angry. It was my own clumsiness that got me in trouble anyhow, not anything he did wrong.

“It’s alright, Hisao. How might I be of assistance?”

“Well I’m looking for a particular set of books, some of which you probably don’t have but I’ll ask anyhow.” He hands me a list, written in a flowery red script. Some of it is in English.

«Looking for a lesson,
In the periodicals.
There I spy you listening to the AM radio.»


Focus, Shirakawa. “I think we can track down a few of these for you. I hope you didn’t need all of them.” JARL License Test Manual. Ham Radio’s Technical Culture. Hmm, I might actually read that one myself. Modern Antenna Design. «Experimental Methods in RF Circuit Design.» A History of Radio: From the Wireless Telegraph to the Wireless Telephone. Some of these sound more like research papers than books.

I do a bit of digging through the card catalogs that we still suffer with, even in this electronic day and age. “We have a test manual, though I can’t say how old it is. The rest I have to request from other libraries, if we can get them at all.”
“Scratch those then, they wouldn’t arrive in time to do me any good. I would really appreciate the test manual though, if you can find it.”

«Everything'd be great and everything'd be good
If everybody gave like everybody could.»


It takes less than fifteen minutes to find the license test manual, even though I still hadn’t put it away from the last time it had been checked out. “Excuse me if I’m intruding, but why the sudden interest in radio?”

His eyes soften, and a blush rises to his cheeks. “I... I’m in the radio club now. There is a license test a week from Saturday, so I’m getting quite a late start on things.” He looks lost in thought, as I return to my own. Hisao’s face transforms into his.

«Sweetest little bookworm,
Buried underneath,
Is the sexiest librarian.»


No. Dammit, NO.
“Is there anything else I might be able to help you with?”
“Hmm? Oh, yeah, actually there is. What’s a cakewalk?”
After tracking down a copy of History of Dance for him, I am once again left alone with my own thoughts.

«Take off those glasses,
and let down your hair for me.»
Last edited by NekoDude on Wed Oct 29, 2014 9:39 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: The Neko Story: Book 1 (...And Nakai Makes Three) releas

Post by NekoDude » Mon Feb 17, 2014 1:53 am

HISAO

Once back in my room, I take a look at the book Yuuko seemed so eager to push on me. It takes me a few minutes, but I finally see why she thought this might be relevant.

Cakewalk: A dance developed from the “Prize Walks” held in the late 19th century, generally at get-togethers on slave plantations in the Southern United States.

This raises more questions than it answers, but I decide to wait a few days before returning History of Dance. I wouldn’t want her to feel she had made a mistake, when she was only trying to be as helpful as possible.

The other book is more than helpful, it’s crucial. If the library had not had the test manual, I would have had to either buy one, meaning a trip into the city, or I would have had to borrow one from another club member, which might conflict with their own studies. It is not a large book, but it is packed with rules, regulations, technical details, and practice tests. Fortunately only the first one-third or so seems to be relevant to my upcoming test, with the rest being for more advanced tests. That’s a good sign, I suppose.

I spend a couple hours trying to catch up on classwork, but it is difficult to concentrate. By 6, I am debating what tasteless lump I can choke down from the cafeteria when my phone buzzes. Neko. My heart skips a beat.

“Most of club in radio room. Join us?”

“I need to eat but then I’ll join you.”

“We have sandwiches.”

You don’t have to ask twice. I slip the manual in my pocket and head out.

When I arrive, there is a small folding table set up with bread, bacon, vegetables, condiments, and sodas. If I wasn’t hungry before, the scent of bacon would ensure that I am now.

“Food or formalities first, that is the question,” says Neko with a grin. “Everything goes better with bacon, so I’ll keep it short. Everyone, this is Hisao Nakai, our newest member. Hisao, this is Hideki, Tadao, and Mariko. Now go grab a bite.”

She nods respectively at a heavy-set but somewhat tall boy, and a pair seated together on the couch that both appear to be blind. Makes sense I guess, that a radio club would appeal to blind students. I bow in the general direction of Hideki, figuring the other two won’t notice whether I do or not.

Whoever chose the fixings has impeccable taste. There is nothing like a simple bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich with wasabi mayo. I grab a can of orange soda and look for a place to sit. It appears we are at capacity, as the only chair remaining is the one behind the radio desk. I wheel it over with an annoying squeak! – I can see Mariko flinch at the sound – and settle myself on Neko’s left.

“I’m glad you could all make it,” Neko mumbles between bites. “I think this is the first time we’ve had five people in here in…” She appears to be counting on her fingers. “...too long. Ran out of fingers.” Hideki looks displeased.

“You should let me teach you to count in binary,” interjects Tadao. “At least then you could count to thirty-one instead of five.”

“I might at that, it sounds useful.” She lets the mock insult slide. “Anyhow, tonight’s radio club meeting is called to order. It’ll be a short one.

“First order of business: when to turn the transceiver off, and when to leave it on. It starts up fast, but thermal cycling isn’t all that kind to it, so please shut it off only for extended periods like holidays, or when necessary for safety. It draws very little power when we’re not transmitting.” Nods all around.

“Second order of business: when you finish, please leave it on the 70 cm band since that’s where Tadao and Mariko hang out most.” More nods, and appreciative smiles from Tadao and Mariko.

“Third order of business: don’t forget the exams a week from Saturday. We leave by vanpool immediately after class.

“Fourth order of business: the roof is starting to leak – not near the radio, thank the gods. But if you ever, ever spot water near our equipment, don’t just turn it off. Shut off the power at the breaker if you can, and call me immediately.” This seems pretty obvious to me, and I don’t even have a license. “Maintenance is supposed to patch it in the next few weeks, hopefully it won’t rain in the interim. But you know how it goes.

“Last item on the agenda: please do not leave any food open while unattended, or in the waste bin at all. Apparently someone saw a rat in 3-4, so this is actually a request being made to all clubs.” Mariko looks uncomfortable with this bit of news. There is a bit of murmuring between her and Tadao, and he squeezes her hand.

“That completes the official business, but I have an unofficial request. Do you think it would be possible for the entire club to be in the room at the same time, next meeting?” She looks squarely at Hideki, who avoids looking back at her. “Alright, that’s it, does anyone else have anything to add?” Murmurs, but nothing comprehensible. “Very well, I assume you all want the same time slots as last month, but change them on the chart if you wish.” She waves at a whiteboard on the wall behind me with the prosthetic arm. “Meeting adjourned. Feel free to make yourselves sandwiches to go.”

Tadao and Mariko practically flee the room, arm in arm. Having finished my sandwich, I wait beside Hideki for a chance to make another. “So what was that about the entire club?” I ask him.

«¡Híjole, chingao!» I don’t know what she expects me to do. Tomiko barely has time to see me any more.” He drops the knife onto the table with a clatter and slinks away to wrap up his likely midnight snack. Once it is bagged, he grabs two cans of ginger ale and leaves. Taking a cue from him, I begin preparing two sandwiches at once – one for now, and one for later.

Neko slides up beside me, and pops a piece of bacon in her mouth. “No rush, I just have to pack everything as soon as you’re done.” She holds two fingers in front of her mouth like rat’s teeth and makes a snickering noise.

“If you bring the lids, I’ll close everything as I finish with it.”

“Thanks, that will save me some time. No reason you have to leave though,” she offers as she rolls away the desk chair. “The couch should still be warm.” Did she just wink at me?

-----------------------

NEKO

“Hey, scoot over.” I nudge Hisao’s left leg with my right as I stand in front of the couch. He complies, but without ever looking up from the JARL guide he is studying. You really are thick as a brick, aren’t you. I plop down in the vacant seat hard enough to make the cushion hiss with escaping air, and I bounce once before settling in. I make sure this bounce accidentally carries me toward him.

I lean over as if I care about what he is studying, only to realize he’s in the wrong part of the book entirely. “What’s this? You’re gonna take the Third Class exam too?” This gets his attention.

“Uh, sorry, this is all just… fascinating. What’s this about another exam?” He looks worried.

“You can take two in one day, but you only get to take the second one if you pass the first. If you plan to do it, tell me this week because I have to send in another form.”

“I doubt I’ll try for that, but I’ll let you know if I change my mind.” He turns back to the practice test for Fourth Class and starts in with a look of intense concentration.

This will not do.

“Ah, Hisao, it’s been a long day.”

“Oh, would you like me to help you pack up for the night?”

“No, not at all. But I was wondering if you’d be so kind as to help me with something else. I hope it doesn’t bother you…”

“Bother? No, why should it bother me? You’re so helpful to me, it’s only fair that I return the favor.” He gives me a blank look. I’m clearly not getting through to him.

“Well, I’m tired of dragging this around…” I say as I rap my knuckles on the prosthetic arm, “...and wondered if you’d help relieve me of it.”

“Oh… okay… uh, what do I need to do?”

“Well first I need to give you access,” I say as I begin to unbutton my uniform blouse. His face is bright red by the time I finish the third button, and I take my sweet time with the other two, fumbling a little bit. Most of this is acting, but not quite all – my hand is shaking more than slightly. Hisao is staring intently at his knees. “Are you sure the shock isn’t going to kill you? I normally do this myself, it’s just easier if I have help.” Actually it isn’t, what I’m going to ask means I have to reassemble things I don’t normally disassemble, but it’s all for a good cause.

“N–no… if you’re alright with it, I am too.” Oh Hisao, I am so much more than alright with this, that you have no clue. As per your reputation.

“Mmm-kay, good.” I reach over my shoulder, grab the blouse dead center below the collar, and whip the whole thing over my head in one motion, turning the sleeves inside-out in the process. He’s holding his breath. Dammit, it’s not like you’ve never seen a bra before. Or… maybe he hasn’t? I keep the blouse held in front of me, and turn my back to him. “You see the cable crossing my back? I need you to disconnect that for me. Can I borrow your book for a second?”

“M–my book? S–sure, I guess so.” He hands me the book, and I clamp it in the split hook.

“There, that should put enough slack in the cable to let you disconnect it.” I hear a quiet click and I stretch my arms across in front of me. I don’t drop the book. “Yup, looks like you got it. I don’t need this any more.” I raise the book and he tries to take it, only to be surprised at the intensity of the grip. With the second try, he manages to pry it out of my cold, dead hand, and the hook slams shut with a pronounced snap. I hope I didn’t dent the cover, but if I did then the library can have my copy instead. “Sorry about that, the death grip is exactly why I don’t use it that way very much.”

“Then why is it like that? I would think you could pick what you want it to do.”

“I can, but it’s for tools, mostly. Or to make absolutely sure I don’t drop things. Now if you’d be so good as to unsnap the harness on my right shoulder just like this…” I unsnap the one on my left shoulder and he follows my example, allowing me to shrug my way out of both. “Purrrrrfect.” I slide off the arm at last and stretch what lies under it, flexing and extending my elbow several times. I know he’s curious, but I also know he’ll never ask.

I feign difficulty with turning my inside-out blouse back the way it should be. After making sure he grasps what I’m trying to do, I hold it out and ask “Could you do this for me? I’m having a bit of trouble.” He straightens out the sleeves and holds it up for me to slip into, like he might hold a jacket. “Thanks, love.” I give him a quick kiss on the cheek and start buttoning up – from the bottom, of course.

God dammit, he’s staring at his knees again.
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Re: The Neko Story: Book 1 (...And Nakai Makes Three) releas

Post by NekoDude » Mon Feb 17, 2014 2:14 pm

MIKI

I am just starting to nod off at my desk when there is a knock at my door. I crack it open a centimeter and peer out – Neko. I let her in. “So what’s a girl like you doing in a place like this?”

“It’s only eight and I wasn’t ready to be alone just yet.” Then she smells it. “Getting a bit less sneaky, aren’t you. Mind if I join?”

“Sure, but we should probably take a walk. If you noticed it when I did it alone, it’s not going to be any better for two.”

“Roof’s empty, I just came down.”

“How do I know you’re not going to molest me or something?”

“Don’t worry about me.” She giggles before holding up her dangling sleeve. “«I’m ‘armless!»”

I can’t help but facepalm. “Have I told you lately that you totally suck?”

We head out and start across the courtyard, and I immediately wish I had chosen somewhat baggier pants because the mint tin is digging into my hip something fierce. “You got a purse?”

“Nope, dumped it in my room along with the arm.”

“A pocket then?” I tap the offending object.

“I can carry it, sure.” I pass it to her and she tucks it into her stocking. “You running low yet?”

“I’m alright, but I’ll ask the crew if they need to reload.”

“Right, but don’t take too long. I’m going home this Saturday since I’m busy the next.”

“Yeah I know, could Snoozu hang with you while I’m at the race?” We make it to the roof without attracting any attention. After crossing to the radio room, we take a seat at the base of the wall. I reach over and pluck the mint tin out of Neko’s stocking.

“Woo, cheap thrills! And here you were worried about me molesting you.”

“What, me worry? You worry!” I tap out the ashes and re-pack the bowl as Neko watches. Then I spark and pass, and she takes a rip. We sit in silence as we hold our breath. Lather, rinse, repeat.

“So just what is a week from Saturday?” I ask.

“License tests. So far it’s me, Hisao, and Hideki signed up.”

“You sure reeled him in fast. Just this morning you were worried he wouldn’t show up, now you have him signed up for a test!”

“Yeah well, I think he really liked the club. I know he liked our bacon sandwiches!”

“You’d better still have some, I’m feeling a case of the munchies coming on.” I pat my belly for emphasis.

“I have enough for that and breakfast, don’t you fear, though I thought for a moment Hideki was going to clean us out.”

“He’s a big boy alright.”

“Alas, not where it counts.”

***

There’s nothing like a buzzed shower, especially when shared. “So should I start molesting you now, or wait till after?” I ask as I oh-so-casually stretch.

“Mmm. As tempting as that sounds… better wait. I’m liable to fall over right now.”

At least tonight I won’t have to sleep alone.

***

I slip away at first light, pausing to crank the volume knob on Neko’s clock radio. I may forgive, but I don’t forget.

I check on Suzu, and head for the bathroom. Though last night’s shower should prove adequate for now, I still need to drain my bladder and wash my face and hand-and-a-half. Then it’s off to the track. I wouldn’t want Emi to think I no longer need her to perform the mission of distraction by attraction.

I smile as insincerely as I can manage at everyone stretching, given how good I actually feel this morning. I perform the morning run without talking much to anyone, or even making much eye contact. I don’t challenge Emi during the sprint at the end. I walk away from the track hanging my head. There is a tug at my sleeve.

“Oh, hi Emi. How’s your morning?” Even my disinterest is fake, I very much want to know what she’s plotting.

“It’s great so far, and bound to get better. I took your advice – I’ve got a little lunch date set up!”

Oh really. I’d like to thank all the little people who made this possible, and the good folks at the Academy who voted for me. I always knew this acting gig would pay off. “I’m sure you’ll tell me all about it tomorrow. Good luck, and see you around!” I let her resume her usual whirlwind pace across campus, barely able to resist skipping the rest of the way myself.

“Morning, Radiohead!” I call out to Hisao as I enter 3-3. Hanako, the only other person present this early, cowers even further behind her book. I cross to the far side and sit at Misha’s desk. “I hear you have a secret rendezvous planned?”

“I do?” He looks confused.

“Never mind, Radiohead. Keep your secrets.” I stick out my tongue and take up my usual seat. That little bitch better not be jerking my rig. Looks like I’ll be enjoying lunch on the roof myself today.

-----------------------

NURSE

“B–but why?” Emi is practically spitting her words at this point. I suppose I might do the same in her position.

I sigh and take a seat on the examination table across from her. “Emi, there’s something you need to know. Your mother and I have already discussed this, since we knew one of us would have to tell you sooner or later. I was just hoping for later rather than sooner.” I was not entirely surprised she had confessed her affection to me. That particular tension had been there for several years, after all. However, I was surprised by how she showed it. Hopefully this news would prevent such an attempt from ever crossing her mind again.

“Rather than drag this out, I’ll give you the short version first, then bring you up to speed. Emi… I… you know I could get fired for this, right?”

“I wasn’t planning on going public.”

“I hope you feel the same way after this. You see, your mother and I are… engaged. We were intending to announce this just after you graduated, when it would no longer be seen as a conflict of interest on my part.”

I wasn’t expecting a laugh, but the one that comes is chilling. “Of all the people in the world. Cock-blocked by my own mother.”

“It’s not like that at all. I mean… I’ve noticed how you looked at me for a few years now. But you knew it couldn’t be that way, and you know it couldn’t even if it weren’t for this situation. I was just hoping we could continue to dance around it a little bit longer.”

“So just how long has this been going on?”

“Five years. I know that’s an awful long time to keep a secret…”

“Especially from me! I trusted you. I confided in you. Yet you couldn’t even tell me that you… you…”

“No, I couldn’t. As much as I regret that it had to be that way, I think you know why. Now that you know… I have to trust you. We both have to trust you.”

She stares at the floor and kicks her blades rhythmically. When she finally does see fit to speak, I have to strain to hear her. “I don’t see what good it would do you, me, mom, or anyone else if I blew this up. But I still think that was a pretty shitty thing to do. Both of you.”

“You know what, Emi? You’re right. If we’d just been more open about this and married before I took this job, we wouldn’t be having this discussion right now. I regret that we did not do this. But you know this changes nothing between us, right? I loved you first. I have always loved you, and I will always love you. I cannot replace your father, but you are still family to me. This is why I transferred to stay on your case, and this is why I took the opening at Yamaku the moment it was available. In a very real sense… you are my daughter.”

This breaks the dam entirely. Emi bounds off of the exam table and throws her arms around me, legs not reaching the ground, and cries into my lab coat. After half a minute or so of this, I help lower her feet to the ground. She may still be small, but I’m not as strong as I once was. I run my fingers through her hair as the sobbing slowly diminishes.

Suddenly, she lets go and takes a small step back, forces a smile onto her face, and tugs the tails of her uniform blouse to straighten it out. “Well, I suppose I’d best make myself presentable before I’m seen in public again. I wouldn’t want to get you in any trouble, now would I?” She throws the characteristic Emi grin and heads for the attached half-bathroom to wash away the signs of crying. I return to my reports, or at least pretending to care about my reports, and keep an ear out for her. After a few minutes of hearing nothing, I check on her only to find that she has already slipped out. I guess I’d better call Meiko.
Last edited by NekoDude on Wed Oct 29, 2014 10:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Neko Story: Book 1 (...And Nakai Makes Three) releas

Post by NekoDude » Mon Feb 17, 2014 2:27 pm

JUNPEI

“I need you to do a little favor for me.” Miki never asks for all that much from me, nor all that often, but the look in her eyes still makes me wary.

“Business or pleasure?” Keeping the questions vague minimizes my chance of suddenly contracting foot-in-mouth disease, something she’s quite good at inducing.

“Mmm, could go either way. Don’t worry, all you need to do is keep your ears open. Emi said something about a lunch date, but my little birds have not been able to get any further word about it. I’ll be on the roof in case she turns up there. Your job is to find her if you can, and see how this little lunch date went. If you don’t find her, see if anyone else knows anything. That’s it.”

“I think I can manage that, but this sounds much more like pleasure than business.” I can’t see Emi involved in our line of work in any way, shape, or form. “And Emi’s none too fond of me. I think she sees me as a slacker.” I give my best mock-offended pout.

Miki simultaneously snorts, giggles, and punches me in the shoulder. “That’s because you are a slacker, Jay. It doesn’t matter though, she sees me the same way. There are only two speeds for that girl: ludicrous, and plaid. Besides, it’s not like I expect you to actually talk to her. Just be a fly on the wall.”

“Gotcha. I’ll…” I stammer, just before she leans in and kisses me on the cheek. Dammit, why do you have to do that? Why do you have to play me for the enamored fool, and why do I always have to fall for it?

“Good. We’ll talk business later. Now hop to it, gaylord.”

Miki’s taking the roof, and I’d be conspicuous at the track, so I decide to check the cafeteria. I listen for the chatter as I stand in line, but nothing seems relevant. I wander the floor slowly while looking for a seat, also listening to the chatter. I finally settle in near two of the less fanatical members of the track team and wait to see if they have anything to offer.

“…it’s not like Miki to turn up for morning practice once, let alone twice… she said something about sleeping alone…”

So maybe, just maybe that kiss was more than I thought? Like I would ever be so lucky. She’s not just out of my league – we’re not even playing the same sport.

“…maybe she should take longer distances. We’ve got nobody competitive at 1500 right now, and she’s got the right body type.”

“That ain’t all that body would be good for.” Dream on, Suzumiya.

“…I heard she almost ran over the new guy in the halls the other day. Good thing she’s still the size of a twelve year old.” Now we might be getting somewhere.

“I’ve seen twelve year old boys with bigger tits.” Harsh. Possibly true, but still harsh. I’m starting to remember why I don’t hang out with guys like these.

“Maybe so, but twelve year old boys don’t put on the cameltoe show she did yesterday. I might have to start making morning practices myself if she’s gonna keep that up.”

“Are you kidding? If you tried to get between her and Kenta, she’d break her foot off in your ass, put on a spare, and keep on kicking.”

It’s all I can do not to laugh with them. I wouldn’t want them to know I’ve been eavesdropping. As the lunch bell rings, I hang back and take a moment to text Miki. It’s not like anyone ever expects me to be on time for anything. Why start now?

Walking back to class, I spot Emi. She is walking rather slowly (for her, anyhow), and although she wears a smile, her eyes tell another tale. Eyes like that generally mean one of two things. Either she’s been crying, or she’s baked – and I don’t think she’s capable of the second option. Sharing this news will have to wait though. I saunter in exactly as the bell rings.

By my reckoning, that makes me early.

***

I arrive at the Shanghai, fashionably late for my 6 o’clock meeting. As is customary, I seat myself at a circular table near the door. Moments later, my awaited stranger arrives, followed mere seconds after by Yuuko, wearing her usual worried look.

“One coffee, one tea… and the check please.”

Yuuko bows and leaves hastily, as if afraid to see or be seen too much. My latest ‘Merlin’ sits with his hands on the table, interlaced. “It’s a shame they don’t serve any real food here. Not everyone is on a hit-and-run mission these days.”

I give Merlin a look over. It’s good to know a little something about your clientele, even if your business is handled by higher-ups. He’s smartly dressed, his suit still buttoned and his tie straightened. He appears to be in his late thirties or early forties, with a receding hairline. I would guess he’s on his way home from work. “Morgan has a gift for you.” I pass a moderately stuffed red envelope under the table.

“And I have a sudden need to visit the restroom. Excuse me, my friend.” He pockets the envelope and heads for the back, seconds before Yuuko returns with our drinks and the check. I smile at her to let her know she’s doing just fine. Otherwise she would be inclined to hang around like a lost puppy, waiting for approval.

Merlin returns a few minutes later, all smiles. “Morgan’s gift is quite acceptable.” He sniffles a bit and sips at his tea for a few moments as I drink my coffee. “I take back what I said about them offering real food here. I seem to have lost my appetite.” Small wonder, if I know the contents of that “gift”. He picks up the check, glances at it, and leaves exact change plus ten thousand yen as he makes his way to the exit. “Thank you for the message, Arthur.”

This Round Table bullshit gets a bit tiresome, but it beats standing around outside the convenience store all day.

-----------------------

NEKO

“Dress nicely, but wear shoes you don’t mind walking in. Mum’s a sucker for style, but she also appreciates practicality. She’ll pick us all up after class Saturday.”

“All? Who all is going?” Hisao seems more intrigued with each new detail.

“Miki’s got a race to run, so we’re entertaining Suzu for the day, and Junpei wants to check on his father’s horses. That makes four of us.”
“You have horses? Sounds like a big place. I’m looking forward to seeing it.”

“Horses, a greenhouse, and a few crop fields. You’ll get the whole tour, hence the recommendation to wear practical shoes. Bring an overnight bag too. It’s not often that company is invited to stay over, but it’s been known to happen. Even with the stable hands living there, we have more house than we need.”

Lunch is a simple affair, consisting of the leftover bread from the club meeting, and deli meat and cheese from the convenience store, but it’s the best we can do given the cooking facilities in the radio room – which is to say, none at all. Hisao has taken to making his own coffee in the common room each evening, and keeping it in the back of the top fridge shelf where it turns to slush. It’s not just cheaper than canned or instant coffee, it tastes better as well.

There are many things I’d like to say, but it’s Tadao’s time on the radio this lunch hour, and he has sharp ears. Even under the headset, I’m quite certain he can hear every word we say, and he has a memory like an elephant. I’d almost call it photographic memory, but I suppose it might be better termed phonographic memory. Luckily for me, his visual abilities are all but nonexistent, which allows me to feel safe in whispering in Hisao’s ear, “plan on staying over,” as I give his leg a gentle squeeze.

***

Friday brings rain, and with it, a need to check for leaks. After securing some towels, a large bucket, and a tarpaulin from maintenance, things appear to be under control. I concede my lunch slot to Hideki to pay him back for the one he gave up during the festival, but the room is hardly fit for just hanging around. The couch is under plastic, there’s a bucket on the coffee table, and it’s just generally muggy and miserable. It would be a bad day to open windows, but it would be nice to at least have the option.

In the library, I run into the usual suspects: Hanako, Suzu, Lelouch, Lezard, Akio. The latter four seem to be having a deep discussion about life, the universe, and everything, and how it relates to the number forty-two. I tousle Suzu’s hair as I pass. “We’re getting picked up right after class tomorrow. Don’t forget your towel.”

To the rest, I say, “I hope you’re reading it in the original English, it loses so much in translation. «Share and enjoy!»” I can feel three pairs of eyes trying to burn holes in the back of my skull as I walk away, but I can’t help ruffling a few feathers when the peacocks line up to strut their stuff. Suzu certainly isn’t going to.

***

“Sorry, love. It’s not supposed to rain in Yamagata tomorrow. I’m not even sure if it rained there today. You’re going to have a dry course.”

“Figures,” Miki sighs. “Oh well, longer legs are an advantage on hills, both up and down. I won’t let her stay close enough to make a move at the end.”

Can’t you put aside your rivalry with Emi for one day? You’re supposed to be running as a team, after all. No, never mind, whatever you need to use as motivation is fine. Just don’t lose the plot. “So you figure she’s good for third even with the hills and the legs and all?” I know how much difficulty inclines give me, particularly downslopes, and I don’t even try to run. I’d think Emi would be even more hard pressed for lateral agility and stopping power – but then again there’s only about three-quarters as much of her to turn or stop.

“Better be. All Suzumiya’s good for is staring at my ass, and if that equalled speed, Emi would cruise home in Kenta’s wake. 3K may be a long day for her, but she’s all we’ve got. I just feel like I can’t escape her shadow. Even when she’s not the fastest, the whole team is still riding on her.”

“Maybe the best move would be for one of you to help pace her, since the only thing that matters is which team can get three runners to the end first. Yamaku has never won an open meet before, and it sounds like we actually have a chance this time.”

“That would fall to me then. I expect Kenta to lag behind at first, but mysteriously pass everyone about two thirds of the way through and never be seen again. He takes a while to warm up, but then he puts it on cruise control and there’s no stopping him after that. I’ll give it some thought.” She pours us each another small cup of sake. Raising hers, she offers, “For the first, and possibly last, time in my life – a toast to Emi. May she be swift as the wind.”

***

Bloody hell, is that ever loud. I’d make a note to bitch at Miki for it later, but I’m not entirely certain I didn’t set the alarm that way myself. After putting myself together (cosmetic arm today, mum’s more comfortable that way even if it’s totally useless to me) and making sure the air raid siren is off and not just snoozed, I take a peek out the window. The sky is slate gray and the trees are swaying, but the ground is dry. Breakfast is an egg sandwich and leftover “Nakai’s Finest” iced coffee with a shot of Irish cream. I take a moment to change my sheets and stuff them into my travel bag before heading off to classes I won’t remember later. I never do, on the days I get to go home – or the closest thing I’ve got to a home in this country, anyhow.

I open the door of 2-3 to find the partition between it and 2-2 has been opened to form one large classroom. In between the two opposing sets of desks stands a substitute teacher I have never seen before, speaking English at the level of a five year old. I decide the potential consequences of truancy pale in comparison to the trouble my mouth is liable to get me into, and don’t even set foot in the class. They’d have done better asking me to teach English, or Lilly, or Tadao, or half a dozen other students that pop to mind, or even Yuuko. Any one of us would be better than his «I am Sam, Sam I am» bollocks.

I need to empty the rain bucket anyhow, so I head up the stairs to the radio room only to find Tadao has beaten me to the punch.
“«Morning, sunshine. Whatcha up to?»”

He unplugs the headphones, allowing the dulcet tones of Received Pronunciation to fill the room. “«Getting a proper English lesson from the Beeb. What about you?»”

“«I’m not in the mood for green eggs and ham either. Just came up to dump the rain bucket. Could you open the door for me? This arm’s about as useful as tits on a bull.»”

I pour the rain bucket slowly into the gutter running along the edge of the roof, but not slowly enough to avoid soaking my shoes in the process. This morning just keeps getting better and better. What the hell, if I’m already wet, I might as well go for a swim while most everyone else is busy.

Swimming has always been an escape for me. It’s one time I don’t need extra hardware added to my body just to get around. Underwater, it’s like I press the mute button on the world. Even when I break the surface, I concentrate on my rhythm and breathing. Kick-kick-left, kick-kick-right, kick-kick-left, kick-kick-breathe. Years of experience keep me going in a straight line despite the uneven forces at play. Turn and push. I break the surface a bit past the fifteen meter mark. I need to work on that, but for now a short session will have to do.

Drying off, I can feel the burn. It’s been too long, and I need to get back in the habit. I put the leg back on, but carry the arm. No point wearing it if I’m going to take it right back off again. Crossing campus back to the dorm for a shower, I run into Hisao, who looks rather glum. I have to step directly in his path before he even notices I’m there.

“A penny for your thoughts?”

“Oh sorry! I was just thinking.” Gosh, I couldn’t tell. You hide it so well. “Nurse just said that if the running thing isn’t working out, I need to find another exercise program. Maybe I should get a bicycle.”

“That’s not a bad idea really, but I might have a better one. Pack a swimsuit.” He finally seems to notice I’m still wearing one myself. “You can swim, right?” I poke him in the arm with rubber knuckles.

“Um… a little bit. At least I learned how to not drown.”

Now that I have stopped moving, the chill in the air is starting to show. The speed with which he averts his eyes tells me he noticed too. I’d love to stand around and give him a show, but I really do need that shower before mum shows up. She’d kill me if I got chlorine on the seat.

“Sounds like a good start to me. Meet me at my room in twenty, I may need some help waking Snoozu. If that fails, we may have to carry her. 206.” I blow him a kiss as I leave. Lacking the time to deal with my feelings properly, I settle for a hurried shower – a really, really cold one.
Last edited by NekoDude on Wed Oct 29, 2014 10:15 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The Neko Story: Book 1 (...And Nakai Makes Three) releas

Post by NekoDude » Mon Feb 17, 2014 2:36 pm

SUZU

I open my eyes to find two faces peering back at me. Neither one is Miki. “H–how did you get in here? Oh no, I’m not making us late, am I?”

“Nope, we still have a few minutes to spare.” Neko holds up a key. “I have the key to Miki’s room, and she has the key to yours. I’m glad she didn’t take it with her to Yamagata today, that might have been... inconvenient. Are you packed?”

“Packed? For what?”

“Fifty-fifty chance we’ll spend the night. Plus, I figured we could hang out around the pool, so you’ll want something to wear.”

“But me, and water, and…” I can’t help but yawn.

“You seem to do pretty well at our place, but if you’re really worried you can just sit on the side and kick water at us. Either way, plan on getting wet.”

We? I look past Neko to the boy standing behind her. “Oh, hi Hisao. Sorry I’m not all there yet.” I yawn again. Luckily I’m already dressed, and it takes only a minute or two to toss together a quick travel bag. “I don’t really have anything for swimming.”

“That’s okay, I have spares that’ll probably fit you. Can’t say the same for him,” she says as she tips her head back, “though it might be amusing to see him try. Anyhow, get yourself ready while I return this key.”

As she slips out, Hisao retreats to the doorway as if unsure what to do, so I try to make him feel useful. “Hey, would you mind grabbing my Tank Fuel out of the common room fridge? Just the one that’s already opened.”

“Uh, sure, no problem. I’ll be right back.”

I’m almost packed when Neko returns with two travel bags slung over her left shoulder. A moment later, Hisao returns with my life blood. “It’s kinda slushy, it must have gotten pushed to the back.”

“That’s not an accident. It gets pretty nasty once it goes flat, and this way I don’t have to taste it so much.” I take the can from him, give it a good shake, unscrew the lid, and chug it in a few big gulps. “That should get the motor running.” Too bad it doesn’t. One moment I’m closing my drawers and zipping up my travel bag, the next I’m waking up with my head on someone’s shoulder, in the back seat of a car.

I hate my brain.

-----------------------

SALLY

“No, the other...” I start to say as I lower the window, a bit surprised Junpei would make that mistake, until I realize it’s the back door he’s headed for. Behind him, Kat and another student struggle to half-carry and half-drag a sleeping figure wearing a knee brace. That poor girl. The three of them pile into the back seat in order, and Junpei closes the door behind them before tossing everyone’s bags in the trunk and walking around to sit on my right. A quick glance in the mirror assures me that everyone is properly secured, and we’re off.

“I’m sorry if I kept you waiting in the cold. Are you getting enough heat back there?” Mumbles and nods. Meanwhile, Junpei drops an envelope in the glove box while I lean slightly to the left to get a better view of the figure seated directly behind me. “I hope it’s not too cramped, this is the biggest car we’ve got. It won’t be a long ride in any case. Sorry for just scooping you up and leaving, but hustling an unconscious girl into the back of my car is just a wee bit suspicious and I didn’t want to stick around to see who might have noticed.”

“It’s not like it’s the first time, nor is it likely to be the last. Mum, this is Hisao Nakai, the new radio club member I was telling you about. I may have just been pressed into service as his swim coach too. Hisao, this is my mum.” Like he couldn’t figure that one out.

“Sarii Tanaka-Rogers at your service, but I’ll answer to Sally or Ms. Rogers, depending on how formal you’re feeling at the moment.”

“Or Morgan,” Junpei mutters. I give him a backhanded swat on the thigh. You know better than that!

“I take it you’ve had time to get acquainted with Junpei here? His father is boarding a few horses with us while he travels, which makes him the stable inspector for the week. I’m sure he can arrange to take you for a ride if you ask.” I shoot him a dirty look before he can say or do anything stupid, and shut up myself. I would have thought I’d know better by now.

Just then there comes a yawn from the back, and I see arms flailing in the rear view mirror. Welcome back to the land of the living, and thanks for bailing me out.

“Are we there yet?” is followed by another yawn.

“Shit, you’d think I had three children instead of one. Wanna make it four, Hisao? We have a big house.”

“Uh, I already have two parents, and I’m not sure how they’d feel about me gaining a third one. But thanks for the offer.”

“Your loss.”

“Mum!”

“«Don’t worry, love. I’m already spoken for.»”

“«You’re incorrigible!»”

“«Then don’t incorrige me.»”

She facepalms. I win.

It is only a few kilometers from Yamaku to the ranch, and the remaining drive passes quietly. “This is the end of the line, everyone off the train. Have your baggage claim checks ready and please return all cabin attendants to their usual upright position.” No response from the peanut gallery. That’s a first. Then I realize Kat is poking at her phone, Hisao is crashed out against the C-pillar, and Suzu is crashed out on him. Junpei is just staring into the distance. I don’t think he has even noticed yet that we’ve stopped. “Are you coming in the house or shall I just lock you all in the garage with the car?” I give Junpei another backhand swat on the thigh.

“One second mum, this is too cute.” I hear a simulated shutter noise squeak from her phone. “It’s always good to have dirt on someone. You taught me that.”

That’s my girl.
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Re: The Neko Story: Book 1 (...And Nakai Makes Three) releas

Post by NekoDude » Mon Feb 17, 2014 2:43 pm

HISAO

“Hmm, dirt? What?” It looks like what I have on me is girl, not dirt. “I swear it’s not what it looks like.”

“And just what does it look like?” Neko sticks her tongue out at me. “Don’t deny it, you just slept with Suzu. In the back seat of my mother’s car, no less.” I suppose this is literally true, but it’s still not what it looks like.

Suddenly the door opens on my left, and the only thing still holding me in the car is the seat belt. Unfortunately, I can’t access the buckle without having to insert my hand into places it is potentially unwelcome. Ms. Rogers has one hand hooked under my left arm and the other on Suzu’s head, trying to get her to straighten up. Somehow we manage to get unbelted without anyone accusing me of lewd acts, and Neko has managed to drag Suzu about halfway out the door on the right by the time I can get around the car to help her. I don’t know what is going on with Junpei. The lights are on, but nobody’s home. Then she changes her mind. “Maybe we should use the cart.”

Ms. Rogers lets out a shrill, piercing whistle, and the front door of the house opens. A balding male head pokes out, nods, and disappears again. A few seconds later the door re-opens, and the balding man in jean overalls walks out with keys in hand, disappearing around a corner. A few more seconds pass, and he reappears behind the wheel of a small orange electric vehicle.

“Yeah boss, where do you want me to dump the bodies?” He cracks a gap-toothed smile.

“Ben! I’ll not have you dumping any bodies today!” Ms. Rogers acts deeply offended. “Leave us the cart, I think we can take it from here.”
We assist Junpei into the passenger seat of the cart (on the left where it damn well should be!) and lift Suzu onto the flatbed in back. To my surprise, Neko takes the driver’s seat of the cart while Ms. Rogers helps me load the bags onto the flatbed next to Suzu. The cart slowly whirs back into motion, and Neko cheerfully sings as she pulls away.

«We’re off to see the Wizard,
the Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
We hear he is a whiz of a Wiz,
when monkeys fly out of my butt!»


I’m pretty sure that’s not how the song goes. I turn around to see how Ms. Rogers is taking this odd sequence of events, but she isn’t there, and neither is the big black BMW. This day is just getting stranger by the moment. I’ll try not to be too shocked if I find myself surrounded by dancing dwarves and flying butt-monkeys.

It looks like Neko is driving around to a side or back entrance, rather than the front door. She’ll probably need my help unloading the cart, so I figure it’s best to take the same route, whatever that may prove to be. Around the side of the house is a double door, both fully open. The hallway is lined with rubberized throw rugs which show clear tread tracks, so I just follow the marked path laid out in front of me. At the end I find the electric cart, stopped less than a half meter short of the end of the trail of rugs. All passengers have disembarked but the bags remain, so I scoop those up and carry them out into the kitchen, two to each hand.

Just calling it a kitchen doesn’t do it justice. There are many restaurants that have to make do with less equipment and space than are available here. Everything is white or stainless steel, right down to the countertops. Aside from the standard appliances and large refrigerator (which bears a sign I can’t make out from here), there also appears to be a second refrigerator-like box mounted horizontally, the entire lid of which doubles as a countertop. I never have learned to cook very much on my own, but I’d change my tune if I had access to facilities like this all of the time. I can hear my footsteps echo as I walk across the tiled floor. I should probably take off my shoes I suppose.

Just as I wonder which of the multiple exits I should choose, the decision is made simple by blaring, growling guitar riffs coming from one particular direction. That makes things simpler. I trudge down the hall, shoes in hand and bags dangling, while the music is turned down two or three times. I step out into a room with a high ceiling, and see that the house has a second level that does not extend out over this room. This is filled with still more white: white leather couches, white upholstered chairs, and although the tables are natural wood, the lamps and vases that they bear are all white.

I don’t know exactly where everyone has gone, but I’m getting tired of dragging the bags around so I set them on the floor at one end of the L-shaped couch along with my shoes. As I set off to find the source of the music, the front door opens and Ms. Rogers steps inside. She sees the collection of baggage around me and says, “So how’s that bellhop job working out for you?”

“The work is not so bad but the pay sucks. Where the heck did everyone go?”

She shrugs and smiles. “You know how cats are. Don’t worry, we’ll find them. Kat! Where are you, darling?”

Neko steps out of a room I walked by on the way down the hall and closes the door quietly behind her. “Just letting them both rest. Jay is still a bit off from his spell and Suzu… well, she’s Suzu.” She shrugs as if this needs no further explanation and turns toward me. “Thanks for bringing in the baggage, love. We didn’t mean to make you our pack mule but Jay and I couldn’t carry Snoozu and the bags at the same time.”

“At your service, Miss Neko. It was my pleasure.” I give a slight bow. She looks at me oddly.

“Too much standing and not enough relaxing. Follow me if you will. I, for one, could use a drink.” Ms. Rogers heads for the kitchen. “Let me guess, you’re the sweet white wine type,” she says to me in the hallway. Once back in the kitchen, I see that the cart is gone and the side doors are closed, though the rugs remain.

Neko whispers in my ear, “I think she likes you.” Oh. Shit. “Don’t worry, you’re too old for her.”

***

“Here you go.” Ms. Rogers hands me a wine glass, and I take a sip. It’s fruity and sweet, but it finishes just a little bit sour, making me want another sip. I nod my approval. “Australian muscat is getting a good reputation around the world, and we’re the third largest distributor of Australian wines in all of East Asia. Business is good. Wine is better.”

“So you’re wine merchants?”

“Oh, heavens no, we just warehouse and move things. There’s very little risk in it. If the product doesn’t sell at the other end… not our problem. Excuse me a moment.”

As she exits, Neko turns to me. “Yeah, she likes you. She didn’t even bother with the cheap stuff. Not that this is high-class – there’s no volume in expensive wines so we don’t bother courting those clients – but it’s still pretty good don’t you think?”

“It tastes good, but as far as I’m concerned there are only three types of wine in the world: white, red, and sake. Beyond that it’s all Greek to me.”

“Might wanna keep that to yourself when mum’s around. «It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt.»”

Ouch. I resemble that remark. I take a chance to read the sign on the fridge that I noticed earlier. DO NOT DISTURB UNMARKED CONTAINERS. WE BREED HORSES. Eww.

Ms. Rogers returns shortly as promised. “How’s he doing?” Neko asks between sips.

“He’s got a light-sensitive headache, but I gave him a cookie. He should be alright before too long, but I don’t think he’ll be in any shape to check on the horses today. I guess that means he’ll have to do it tomorrow. I hope you don’t mind sharing the guest room upstairs with him,” she says to me. “He doesn’t snore... much.”

-----------------------

JUNPEI

“I’m in for two thousand.” I toss a couple thousand yen notes on the table and pull up a seat with Suzu on my right and Neko on my left. Suzu seems to be cleaning out the table, and I want to bet after her, not before. Neko drops the cash into the chip case and deftly lays chip stacks in front of me – fifteen white, twenty green.

“It’s one-two no limit.” Neko’s ready to deal. “You wanna post or wait for your blind?”

“I’ll wait.” This gives me a chance to grab a bite anyhow. Behind me, I can hear chips being riffled and stacked as I break off half a cookie and pour myself a glass of milk. I finish the half cookie before returning to the table with a hand well in progress. The board has come up A♣ A♥ J♥.

Hisao is in the small blind and has to act first. “Bet.” He tosses two white chips in front of him.

“I’m out.” Abe tosses in his cards.

Suzu bites her lip and glances at her chips. “Raise.” She cuts out ten white chips and pushes them toward the center of the table.

Hisao makes the call. Neko pulls the bets into the pot, then burns and turns 4♠, and Hisao raps on the table. Suzu takes a moment to count her opponent’s chips, then cuts out a stack of twelve more white chips and pushes them forward. Hisao hesitates a little bit before making the call that costs nearly half of his remaining chips.

Again Neko pulls the bets into the pot, and burns and turns 4♣. Hisao immediately raps on the table, and Suzu makes a waving gesture with both hands toward the center of the table. “I’m all in.” It’s more of a theatrical move than anything, as Hisao only has enough chips to cover 15 white.

Hisao grimaces, takes a peek at his cards, and throws them into the pot. “Take it,” he mutters as the K♥ flips over.

Suzu starts raking up the pot, but before she orders and stacks the chips, she tosses her cards into the muck face up: 5♣ 3♣.

It takes a moment for Hisao to register this. No matter what his other card was, he had her beat. “Cash me out. That swim is sounding like a better idea by the second. Maybe I’ll get lucky and drown.” He pushes away from the table. Neko glances at Sally, gets a nod, then follows after him.

“Seat open!” Sally yells to nobody in particular, and Ben pokes his head into the hallway.

“Yeah dad,” adds Abe, “don’t let the game die. This is just starting to get fun!”
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Re: The Neko Story: Book 1 (...And Nakai Makes Three) releas

Post by NekoDude » Mon Feb 17, 2014 2:59 pm

NEKO

“Calm your tits. So she bluffed you out of a pot, what you do expect?”

“It’s not the bluff, it’s how badly I blew that read. I was sure she had an ace.” Hisao shakes his head.

“She certainly was acting like it, so don’t have a heart attack. She’s had her entire life to practice bluffing. Who knows how many times she has woken up somewhere, not knowing where she is or why? Have you ever seen her panic? Compared to that, pushing her lunch money into the pot seems pretty tame. What did you have, anyhow?”

“King and queen of hearts. I came up blank.”

I open the door to my room and pull him inside. “The bags are in here.” Closing the door behind us, I throw my arms around his neck and plant a big kiss on him. He stiffens for a second or two in surprise, then wraps his arms around me and starts to kiss back. He’s not bad at it, and it’s nice to be the one in the lead for a change. “Shall I let in some light, or would you rather fumble in the dark a bit longer?” I suppose I can take another kiss for an answer, but we do have to get moving before anyone gets too suspicious. After adjusting the blinds to let in some light, I select two bikinis – a pink one for myself, and a yellow one a couple years old for Suzu. I drop hers on the arm of the loveseat and whip Hisao on the backside with my top as he digs through his travel bag. “Take the bathroom,” I say as I gesture towards a door. Still not having found his swim gear, he takes the entire bag with him.

It doesn’t take me long to dump the less-than-useless cosmetic arm and get changed. While waiting for Hisao to emerge from the bathroom, my phone buzzes. It’s from Miki.

“Kenta first, I placed fourth, Emi right behind. Next stop: Sapporo!” I let out a whoop and a cheer, and shout through the bathroom door. “We won! They pulled it off!”

The bathroom door opens, revealing Hisao in blue swim shorts, a white T-shirt, and flip-flops. “What did we win?”

“Our cross-country team! They just won the open meet in Yamagata! Woo!”

“Sounds wonderful! What’s an open meet?”

“It means the best teams from each of four prefectures all ran in one race, a race Yamaku won! Do you have any idea what that means?”

“Uh… it means they’re fast?”

“No shit it means they’re fast. But beyond that… it means a shot at nationals! If they can win the next meet, they’ll represent all of northern Japan, in front of the entire country!”

“Just how many high schools in this country specialize in taking on disabled students, anyhow?”

“There are a couple of others, but you’re missing the point. Hisao, they didn’t race against other schools for the disabled. They raced against the best high schools in four prefectures, period. And they won.” I do a little victory dance as I head back toward the kitchen, waving my arms in the air like I just don’t care. Suzu and Abe are the only ones remaining at the kitchen table, and they have switched to backgammon. “Where’s mum?”

“Dunno,” says Abe. “Last I saw, she was with Junpei. I think they’re both a little…” He rolls his eyes and sways back and forth in his seat.

“Ah well, I guess I can fill them in later. Suzu, love… Miki and company did it! They won the meet!” Her eyes sparkle as I muss her hair. She always seems to come to life when she visits us, and this time she has Abe in the hole another two thousand yen to go with her haul from the poker table. “Try not to bankrupt the kid too fast. We’ll be in the pool. I left you something to wear if you care to join us.”

“Pool, hmm.” Suzu thinks for a bit. “Hey Abe, want a chance to win some of this money back? How about a little snooker, say, five hundred a frame?”

“You’re on!” You’d better hope she’s not ‘on’, or you’ll be broke for the next two weeks.

I head out the rear exit of the kitchen to the pool area, the slapping of flip-flops assuring me that I’m being followed. I can hear the washer running as I fetch towels for us from the laundry room. I toss one over my shoulder and the other, still rolled and tied, at Hisao. “Think fast.”

He allows it to bounce off his upper chest, kicks it into the air, and heads it back at me. “Your turn.”

I catch the twirling towel roll and toss it into a chair. “Nice moves. Where’d you pick those up?”

“Eh, that’s nothing. I’d have gotten laughed right off the pitch if I couldn’t manage that. Now if I could still run… or take a hit…” He looks wistful.

I take a seat at the edge of the pool, remove the leg, and toss it into a chair before sliding into the water. “I never could run, but I’ve taken many a hit in my life. Are you going to stand there and watch, or are you coming in?” He slips off the sandals and slides into the water as well, still wearing the T-shirt. “Really? You’re going to swim in a T-shirt?”

“How am I going to swim at all? I mean it’s great to have an indoor pool and all, but there isn’t so much room for activities.”

“«I find your lack of faith disturbing.»” I start up the treadmill current, and start swimming against it to demonstrate. After a few moments, I surge forward and grab the bar at the front. “It’s an endless pool. I can adjust it anywhere from a lazy crawl to over nine thousand! Just say the word.” I release the bar and let the current push me to the far end.

“Lazy crawl sounds good to me.” I dial it back a bit, but not as low as it can go, as he slips into the stream and starts flailing like a drowning rat. I let him struggle for twenty seconds or so, then cut the current.

“You were right about that not-drowning bit. Now let me actually teach you to swim. First, you need to stop kicking like you’re trying to ride a bicycle underwater. You have two options, the scissor kick or the dolphin kick. Scissor kicks tend to make me go in circles so I prefer the dolphin style, but you’re free to choose.” I turn the current back on, swim up to the bar, and demonstrate both types of kick. “Your turn. Just hang onto the bar and don’t worry about your arms right now.”

Even his most awkward scissor kick is a vast improvement over dog paddling, but he surges forward when switching to dolphin. I turn up the current. He alternates a couple more times between the two, then lets go of the bar and floats back to me. He’s out of breath, but looks quite satisfied just the same. “It feels like there’s more power in the dolphin kick, but it wears me out so fast. I think I’ll have to stick with scissor for now.”

“Dolphin kicks require a very strong core, since a lot of the force comes from the body rather than the legs. You’re probably right to lean toward scissor kicks at this stage, but I wanted you to see for yourself. Work on that a little bit more once you catch your breath. Strength is something you build, but you want to have good form right from the start. Excuse me for just a moment.” If everyone else is going for baked goods, I’m going to indulge just a little myself. Half a cookie shouldn’t mess me up too much.

-----------------------

HISAO

I cannot resist watching as she hops her way back into the house. I tell myself I’m watching out for her safety, but I doubt there’s anything I could do in time if I saw a hazard. I enjoy watching the bounce from behind as she leaves. I look forward to the bounce coming back even more. I decide to work on the kicking motion from my back, so as not to sacrifice the view, and it is not long before she returns with bottled water for the both of us.

“I like your legwork. Lose the shirt, and I’ll show you how to time the arms, and where to breathe.”

I’m not ready for this. I don’t want to do this. Please, not today. “Do I really have to?”

“Loose clothing means drag, and drag means wasted energy.”

“Couldn’t you just turn down the current a little instead?”

“What, and go easy on your legs? I don’t think so. I mean it’s not like you have an alien bursting out of your chest or something, right?”

“No, not as such…”

“Then what’s the issue? Look, I’m willing to compromise here.” She dangles her bikini top in my face, then throws it onto one of the deck chairs.

Oh. My. God. “You’re going to get us…”

“What, busted? Very funny, Hisao. I’ll stay under water. You can too for all I care, but the shirt has to go.”

A voice calls out over the noise of the pool motor. “Just moving the laundry!” Abe has his hand up beside his face like blinders on a horse as he edges around the pool.

“Alright, alright. You wear this.” I surrender my T-shirt, and she squirms into it. I’d forgotten how difficult it can be to put on thoroughly soaked clothing, but I was unaware it could be that much fun to watch. Not only that, it really doesn’t do much to obscure the view. “Very nice. I think it fits you better than it fits me.”

“Mmm-hmm. Try not to lose the plot here. It’s time to work on the arms and the breathing. Even limiting the kick style, there are still two options: four-beat and six-beat. I’m only going to show you four-beat right now. This means that for every cycle of your arms, you kick four times.” She demonstrates, and seems to have no trouble at all with the current that was a struggle for me. “Now whether you breathe on the left or the right is up to you, but be consistent about it. Also the longer you can go between breaths, the faster you’ll be, because you have less of your head breaking the surface of the water – but don’t worry about that too much right now. Just breathe whenever you need to. Your turn.” She slips off to the corner where the current doesn’t reach.

My turn. I feel like I’m flailing about with my arms, and trying to get everything to synchronize is making it hard to propel myself. I feel like I’m going slower than when I was just kicking, but then I don’t have the bar to hang on to any more. Worse, my legs keep sinking. I’m about to stop and let the current carry me to the far end when I feel a pair of knees lifting my midsection from beneath. I’m able to continue for another twenty seconds or so before I get pushed downstream. “What was I doing wrong?” I shout while trying to catch my breath.

Neko drops into the current and floats down to my end. “Two things: you were thinking too much, and you were going too slow. Both will fix themselves with practice.” She dials the current up a bit. “I also forget about buoyancy.” She glances down, drawing my eyes down with hers. “I’m naturally gifted at floating.” That’s putting it tactfully. “Let me know when you want to give it another shot. You can recover in the spa if you want, if it’s warm enough.” She launches forward into a swimming style I’ve only seen on television, with both arms working together and her whole body seeming to lift out of the water between strokes. It’s a marvelous sight. She seems so at home in the water, like a mermaid in disguise. Finally she dives beneath the surface, driving through the current by leg power alone for long enough to make my lungs hurt just watching. She surfaces and floats back down to my end.

“What was that called?” I ask as she bobs up beside me. “I’ve seen it before, but never in person.”

“Butterfly.” She pauses to catch her breath. “Train with me and we’ll get to it… but not today, it’s the most demanding of the four. For one thing, a dolphin kick is part of the rules for the ’fly, so let’s stick to the crawl for now. Are you ready for another go?”

“Maybe a short one. I’m starting to feel heavy already, and I’m not in a drowning mood any more.”

She dips her hand into the water on the other side of the divider. “It’s finally getting warm in there. Tell ya what, you put in another five and I’ll give you a treat.”

“I might need you to prop me up again, like you did last time.”

“Just give it a shot the way the current is now. It should be fast enough to keep you from sinking. And don’t think. Just do.

That’s easier said than done, but it does have a certain easy rhythm to it. Did I have to think when I first started to run? I don’t remember that I did, but I could have forgotten. “Five minutes you say?” She nods. “Let’s do this.”

At first I think I might actually be able to make it, but then my legs start to burn. I try to take up the slack with arm power, but I can still see that I’m slowly slipping backward. Come on, you can do this. It’s just five minutes. But it’s no use, the current wins and I find myself back at the far end of the pool. I catch my breath and prepare to apologize for my poor performance, but Neko is giggling. She turns the current speed back down from where she’d ratcheted it up to as I tried to fight it.

“You’re a good sport, Hisao. You earned that treat, five minutes or no.”

Mmm, yes. I did earn this. She can prank me all she likes, if it means she does the backstroke in a wet T-shirt again.

“Now that we’re sharing secrets,” she says as she pulls up beside me, “it’s your turn.”

“I dare say those weren’t much of a secret.” My eyes drop for less than a second.

“No, they are kinda hard to keep secret. But this was.” Her right knee makes contact with my left thigh. “Fair?”

“Fair.” Several possible questions run through my mind, none of them pleasant to answer. “What would you like to know?”

Her finger lands on my chest. “This. Why do you have your own Harry Potter mark, only on your chest instead of your face?”

I didn’t think it looked much like a lightning bolt, but I suppose maybe it could. “It’s my ticket to Yamaku.”

As I explain the incident from the beginning – the note from Iwanako, the confession, the heart attack, the time in the hospital – it's her turn to say “I'm sorry…” I repeat her sentiment that she has nothing to be sorry about, but she disagrees. “No really, I didn't get it. I have my issues, but none of them are going to kill me. I'm going to grow old like everyone else. I'm going to get gray hair like everyone else. If fate wills it, I'm going to have children and grandchildren like everyone else, and I don't have to worry about them inheriting my condition. I had no idea your life was in danger.”

“It really isn't, once I learn to live within my limits. From what I understand, I don't have to die young, although I still might if I'm unlucky, stupid, or some combination of the two. I'm still trying to come to terms with just what those limits are. You saw that Sunday.” Has it really only been six days?

“Well I suppose luck can't be helped, that's why it's called luck. But learn to not be stupid, I'm starting to like you.” She kisses me, gently but not briefly, and pulls back slightly.

I take her hand and place it over the scar on my chest and whisper, “Now that you know, I'm still here if you want me.”

“Hisao, everyone on this planet is a little bit broken. Some of us are more obvious about it than others, but not one of us is perfect.” She wraps her arms around me and pulls me in tight.

That wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. But something else is.
-----------------
NEXT CHAPTER
Last edited by NekoDude on Mon Nov 03, 2014 1:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Neko Story: Book 1 (...And Nakai Makes Three) releas

Post by NekoDude » Mon Feb 17, 2014 4:06 pm

EDIT: Spreading out over more posts. Broke the board.
Last edited by NekoDude on Tue Feb 18, 2014 1:06 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The Neko Story: Book 1 (...And Nakai Makes Three) releas

Post by forgetmenot » Mon Feb 17, 2014 11:42 pm

The formatting has changed, and the first "book" runs 326 pages. You can get it here.
So I decided to bite the bullet and just read the whole thing in one sitting, so I just have to get this out of the way now: Dude. What. The. Fuck.

Okay, now that that's over, I must admit it reads well. That is to say, it's well written, and the story certainly kept me engaged. I never felt like I had to force myself to continue reading. Your dialogue, albeit unconventional for the setting, is also well-done. So needless to say I'll be monitoring for future updates.

I also can't really comment on any out of character-ness I felt like I saw, because for the most part, you utilize characters that have very brief canon appearances or none at all. Whether or not Suzu is akin to her Scissorlips counterpart is irrelevant, as to base whether or not any character (that has no dialogue and appears in one CG in the actual game) acts according to their fanon-generated personalities is ludicrous. That being said, I almost wish you would have taken it further into left field personality-wise (not in the sense of the whole meth-snorting thing, but she's still characterized as the oft-dreamy sleepyhead who occasionally has a witty remark or two to dispense). As far as Hanako and Emi go, it's not beyond reasonable doubt that they'd act the way they did, so I'm willing to let those two slide for now mostly because drunk Hanako and Kenji are a match made in heaven and we all know Emi likes the older guys anyhow. I also believe that KS fanfic can do whatever it wants with Hisao - he's pretty much a blank slate and varies so much in canon that I really don't even have a problem with him blazing one up, even though it's extremely stigmatized in Japan to the point of being like cocaine or heroin in the States or the UK. Schedule 1 substances = no, no.

I gotta say, you really got me with the twist. There were hints peppered in all over the place, too, which is the irritating thing. I should have figured something of that sort was going on. How the fuck else do you explain every goddamn person Neko knows having pretty much worry-free access to a seemingly limitless supply of weed? So well done, I guess, even if the story does go a bit off the rails from there.

Slapping in a Miki+Neko+Hisao threesome in there is a cheap form of wish fulfillment on your part, don't even lie about it. It plays with the story nicely, I suppose, but the whole Miki as the slave daughter, betrothed to some anonymous drug lord's son is super over the top. And if I say something is over the top in the context of this piece of writing in particular, it's over the goddamn top.

The whole impression I get from this is the same impression I get from Rian Johnson's Brick. Insomuch is that it's not necessarily believable that high schoolers, much less in Japan, would get into some of the shit they're into in this story. However, if we throw aside the presumption that they wouldn't, it sure as hell makes for an entertaining ride.

TL;DR: I liked it. Get your head checked, you lunatic. :roll:

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Re: The Neko Story: Book 1 (...And Nakai Makes Three) releas

Post by NekoDude » Tue Feb 18, 2014 1:28 am

forgetmenot wrote:I also believe that KS fanfic can do whatever it wants with Hisao - he's pretty much a blank slate and varies so much in canon that I really don't even have a problem with him blazing one up, even though it's extremely stigmatized in Japan to the point of being like cocaine or heroin in the States or the UK. Schedule 1 substances = no, no.
That probably would never happen if he had not first accidentally eaten the cookie and suffered no ill effects other than getting high as a kite. And when I was in high school, amphetamines and cocaine were around (if expensive) and the people who used them were sometimes the "criminal types", but often weren't. There was very little stigma around cocaine, and practically none at all in the adult world that I've seen.
forgetmenot wrote:I gotta say, you really got me with the twist. There were hints peppered in all over the place, too, which is the irritating thing. I should have figured something of that sort was going on. How the fuck else do you explain every goddamn person Neko knows having pretty much worry-free access to a seemingly limitless supply of weed? So well done, I guess, even if the story does go a bit off the rails from there.
That wasn't really intended to be all that surprising, but if the story "goes off the rails", it's because it has to. Everything is going somewhere, even if you can't tell where just yet. If you think it's gone insane now, just wait. The Russians are coming, and anything they touch is guaranteed to be crazy.
forgetmenot wrote:Slapping in a Miki+Neko+Hisao threesome in there is a cheap form of wish fulfillment on your part, don't even lie about it. It plays with the story nicely, I suppose, but the whole Miki as the slave daughter, betrothed to some anonymous drug lord's son is super over the top. And if I say something is over the top in the context of this piece of writing in particular, it's over the goddamn top.
The threesome was actually fairly difficult to set up, and was for plot purposes -- though admittedly, once I set it up, I wasn't going to waste it by not describing it fully. It's fanservice, but not wish fulfillment (there is a self-insert, but it's Daisuke). If Misha's "disability" was being lesbian, then Neko's real problem is being polyamorous. She just realizes she needs to use the frog-in-a-pot method to keep Hisao from jumping overboard, and what happened there did not fit into her plans one bit. At the same time, Sally is also working the "small steps to the moral event horizon" game on Hisao, and he's starting to catch on. It's just that so far, none of the steps actually seem to have hurt him any.
forgetmenot wrote:The whole impression I get from this is the same impression I get from Rian Johnson's Brick. Insomuch is that it's not necessarily believable that high schoolers, much less in Japan, would get into some of the shit they're into in this story. However, if we throw aside the presumption that they wouldn't, it sure as hell makes for an entertaining ride.

TL;DR: I liked it. Get your head checked, you lunatic. :roll:
It's not so much that high-schoolers wouldn't get up to all of this (ok, maybe not so much in Japan), because I know from personal experience that they can and do. It's just that they probably wouldn't all be bunched up in a tight little group like this. That, of course, is for reasons of reducing complexity.
Last edited by NekoDude on Tue Feb 18, 2014 1:35 am, edited 1 time in total.
Art is never finished, only abandoned.
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