Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (#61—'Paralysis')

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Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (#59—'Smoke Gets In Your Eyes')

Post by Scroff » Mon Aug 12, 2019 8:26 am

I'm not at all ashamed to admit to brushing a manly tear from my eye after reading this. Misha didn't have an easy time of it in AtD so giving her many years of happiness here was wonderful.

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Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (#59—'Smoke Gets In Your Eyes')

Post by brythain » Thu Aug 15, 2019 11:21 am

I'm honoured to be the effective cause of so many manly tears. I can only say that I had good material to work from and with. :)
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

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Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (#59—'Smoke Gets In Your Eyes')

Post by Feurox » Thu Aug 15, 2019 12:15 pm

Scroff wrote:
Mon Aug 12, 2019 8:26 am
I'm not at all ashamed to admit to brushing a manly tear from my eye after reading this. Misha didn't have an easy time of it in AtD so giving her many years of happiness here was wonderful.
brythain wrote:
Thu Aug 15, 2019 11:21 am
I'm honoured to be the effective cause of so many manly tears. I can only say that I had good material to work from and with. :)
We've got to stop making Scroff cry Brythain... :lol:

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Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (#60—'Roofrunning')

Post by brythain » Sun Sep 22, 2019 3:39 am

The following post was written in response to Stiles Long's writing contest. Each participant was given a list of KS character pairings and a list of locations. One of each was chosen for this fic. There were a limited set of options available to participants in the contest and it may be that this fic resembles others. Any such resemblance is coincidental.
Kenji spends a lot of time on the roof. Why?


Roofrunning

“Well, shit, it serves you right. You knocked down that kid, running around like the usual idiot you are. Now he’s back to square one just after heading for square two, you know what I mean? You’re lucky he’s not dead.”

The smaller girl burst into tears. “How am I supposed to know what you mean?? Nurse won’t talk to me, Coach won’t talk to me, and I’m… I’m… barred from the track till further notice! For at least THREE WEEKS!!!”

The taller girl sighed. “Hey now, that last one, that’s tough. I’ve seen it on your face, last few days. I wouldn’t be talking to you otherwise. We’re not exactly friends.”

“Miura, you’re the only runner in that class! Can’t you talk to Hakamichi for me? Maybe she can talk to the Principal? If I don’t run, I’ve got nothing to live for!”

“Ibarazaki, to tell you the truth, if you don’t run, I’ve got nobody I want to beat.”

“In three weeks, you could probably beat me with a walking stick.”

“Beat you with a stick? Sounds good.”

“I didn’t mean that! I mean, if I don’t train, I’ll be useless at the next meet.”

“And I’d win it, but not fair and square the way I’d normally do.”

“Ha! You’d never win it if I could train,” Emi Ibarazaki said, her pigtails swinging furiously while she glared daggers. She turned on one composite heel and stomped off, the floor vibrating under her departing tread.

Miki Miura grinned, then frowned. Much as she liked to see her rival’s discomfiture, there wasn’t much she enjoyed more than winning a hard-fought race. Having Emi lose from enforced lack of training was a bummer. Thoughtfully, she tightened the elastic bandage on her left arm and raised an eyebrow to herself.

*****

Dark night, dark city. I am the hunter of the wicked, the scourge of evil, the bane of feminists. From the heights of the world, I will descend on those who deserve my wrath. Let those who deserve to fear, fear me. For I am the…

“Argh! Let go of me you evil bitch!!”

“Hey, Kenji!”

“No! Never! You’re an underhanded cold-hearted witch!”

“Come back here!”

Upon the rooftops, no man can evade my gaze, the gaze of justice. For while justice is blind, still it sees all, and even though the scales of justice are delicate, the judgement they bring is the force of the law, and all men must bow before…

“Woman! Unhand me!”

“It’s nice that you still think I’m a woman, Kenji. I think you’re quite a man. Don’t run away from me!”

“No! What? No! I know what evil power you keep hidden beneath those bandages! It is the ancient Egyptian power of the dead! You’re Mummy Miki Miura, everyone knows that!”

“Aww, c’mon Kenji, I only need a small favour. And only you, the manliest man of them all, can give it to me!”

“I’m not letting you go full Mummy on me!”

“Don’t flatter yourself, Kenji, I’m not letting you make me a Mummy.”

“Lies, Miki! I saw what you did to the new kid! He’s in a coma, where that deceptive two-faced fake medico is keeping him under heavy sedation until he joins the ranks of your brainwashed male feminists!”

“Well, that wasn’t me. I don’t do that kind of shit, he’s not in a coma, and he’s not a feminist. He got knocked down by a fembot, as you should very well know!”

“A fembot?! You’ve led them right to me! You were distracting me all along! How could I have trusted you?!”

“But you’ve never trusted me!”

“Not since that night!”

“We were both drunk!”

“Argh!” Kenji screamed and broke free.

“Shit!”

I run through the night. When I was a younger hero, I fell once or twice, but I always rose again. Dark night, dark city. I am its avenger, its sword of doom against the corruption of the ages! I am…

“Kenji! Listen to me! I’m not the threat you think…”

Miki stopped dead in her tracks.

“I’ll be damned!” she whispered to herself as she saw the blanket-cloaked figure land silently on the roof of the next block and vanish into the gloom. “He really is a hell of an athlete. How the heck does he do it on nothing but pizza and whisky?”

*****

“You want to meet me up on the roof tonight? With my running legs? What the heck for? You can always join me and Rin for lunch if you want. Not that you need to be around.”

“Ibarazaki, do you want to train or not?”

“Miura, Coach has banned me from every school facility, and if she catches me loitering anywhere near any of them, it’ll be a darned sight more than three weeks! I’d be lucky to run ever again!”

“I’ve got a personal trainer. And trust me, he’ll give you a helluva workout.”

“Oho! You pervert!”

“No, it’s not like that!”

“I don’t trust you, Miura!”

“What’s it with you people and your trust issues? Dammit, you meet me up there tonight at midnight—and if you don’t, I won’t give a shit any more about helping a fellow runner.”

“It sounds so sketchy!”

“Fuck off then, Ibarazaki! I guess I’ll just have to anchor the sprint relays instead of you.”

“Miura!”

“Go to hell!”

*****

Why on earth am I up here on the roof? It’s ridiculous. I’m Emi Ibarazaki, fastest thing on no legs! One day I’ll run again, and I’ll beat that conniving Miura with one hand tied behind my back just to show her…

“Ibarazaki, you there?”

Speaking of which, how the heck did she get me to go along with this?

“Yeah, I’m here. Where’s this superstar secret coach of yours?”

“Ta-da! Look over there in the corner, skulking behind the potted plants.”

Emi squinted into the shadows cast by the night security lights. That shape looked somewhat familiar. Where had she seen that profile before? Maybe it was one of the people she’d knocked down over the years.

“What? No! Are you out of your mind?” she hissed furiously. “Isn’t that the weirdo from 3-2, the one who’s always staring creepily at Lilly Satou as she walks past?”

“Calm down, Ibarazaki. He’s pretty short-sighted, has to use special lenses, that’s why he looks as if he’s staring creepily at people when he’s not.”

Hands on hips, Emi glared at her rival. “How come you know so much about him, and what’s he doing here? He’s no coach! I don’t think he even goes for P.E.!”

“Well, he has wonderful fucking secret. And I, Marvellous Miss Miki Miura, am very good at finding out people’s damn secrets.”

“Secret?”

“Yeah. Watch this.”

Miki took two steps towards the figure in the shrubbery. “Hey, Kenji. Guess what? I’ve brought the fembot.”

“Argh! Treachery! You said she was deactivated! You’ve betrayed the Feral Brotherhood Of Nightrunners!”

Kenji turned swiftly and leapt to the edge of the roof. He teetered for a moment, but just as Emi was about to scream, he seemed to flow across the gap between the ladies’ dorm and his own. His distant silhouette now established on the other side, he flapped his arms in an absurd parody of a victory dance and sprinted away like a demented turkey.

Miki closed her eyes and shook her head. “This is gonna take a bit more work than I thought, Ibarazaki.”

“What the hell was that?!”

And can I learn how to do it?

*****

“Kenji, she is deactivated. They grounded her and her circuits are done. Now she can be a practice bot for you.”

“No! It’s a trick! When you told me you had sworn yourself to the Brotherhood by sacrificing a hand, it was all lies, wasn’t it?!”

Miki looked deep into his eyes and tried on her best puppy-dog look. She’d never beat Emi at that, but she was damned if she wouldn’t give it her best shot.

“Kenji, look at me. I have only one hand now. Would anybody do that just to play a trick on you?”

“Ha! But your other hand is lethal, it’s dangerous, it can suck the life force out of a man!”

“That it can… but… wait, Kenji! Come back!”

Miki sighed. It was going to be another late night, and her grades were already tasting the mud on the floor. Not to mention, she had an overpowering urge to wash her remaining hand very, very thoroughly.

*****

“Bot. I command you, stand still!”

“What? Miura, what the hell is he saying?”

“Shhh! Let me do the talking.”

“Ssstop whisssspering!” hissed the cowled figure on the parapet.

“Dark Avenger, I have brought your training fembot to you.”

“What?? Fembot?!”

“It ssssseeeeeemmmmss that she is dissssobedient.”

“Erm, no, she is pretty obedient. When they stopped her circuits, she went a little deaf.”

“I’m not shouting my secret plans into her ears,” said Kenji firmly.

“You don’t have to. We can tune her pickup.”

“Pickup?!!”

“Shut up!”

Miki glowered at her rival, who was already glowering in the gloom. If anyone there wasn’t glowering, they would have felt quite left out.

“Ha! A lot of training to do, then. Fembot, you’re not human, so if you sexed a human, you wouldn’t consume their life-force, right?”

“Not human? Sexed?! Life-force?!! I’ll give you life-force!”

No longer capable of restraint, Emi launched herself at the Dark Avenger.

Three things happened shortly thereafter.

Miki released a heartfelt and very loud, “Oh shit!”

Kenji swirled his cloak dramatically around him and leapt off the parapet.

And Emi charged through the empty space where Kenji had been standing scant seconds before.

*****

“Oh, thank Buddha and all the bodhisattvas. You’re alive.”

“I have to admit, hurdles and long jump aren’t my events.”

“Did you catch him?”

“Once. Then he dived into a third-storey window and I lost him. He’s a maniac!”

“Did you have fun?”

“Damn, Miura, that was the most fun I’ve had since I lapped you in the 4x400.”

“You did not!”

“Okay, it’s the most fun I’ve ever had, then.”

“Just remember, you never beat me in any 400m race.”

“You don’t run 400m anymore, must be a reason.”

“Ah, fuck off.”

*****

Dark night, dark city. Even darker school. I sit on Mount Aoba and consider the memory of the great warlord Masamune Date, the One-Eyed Dragon of Oshu. Only one eye, but he saw everything. And I will continue his legacy, watching without watching, alert always to the threat of…

Kenji felt a disturbance in the force. He rose silently to his feet.

“Hi, it’s me. I just wanted to…”

“Fembot, I am immune to your Feminine Wile software!”

“What? Why do you keep calling me a ‘fembot’?”

“I know that you machines would prefer I thought of you as human, but I can only feel pity that you’re not truly so. Look at your carbon-fibre composites and titanium bones, you have no true soul!”

“I don’t get it, but I wanted to thank you for the run last night.”

“Fembot, you’re pathetic, you will never catch me!”

“Them’s fighting words, moron. Haaaaaarrgh!”

These training exercises, they build a man’s immortal spirit. The one-handed succubus, no matter how unclean her motives, she has found a worthy test for me. I will respect that.

As if he had a sixth sense, Kenji evaded the lunge and danced nimbly across a table and onto the parapet. A quick flick of his reinforced scarf, a moment of vertiginous suspension over innocently patrolling night guards, and he was on his way to the next block.

Fire in her eyes, Emi narrowed her gaze and sprinted for the roof’s edge. Her composite legs flexed as she sprang through the air. By the time she hit the other roof, her adversary was on the run.

He’s quite a runner. Where the hell did he develop the skills?

She’d catch him for sure now. This roof was perfectly flat, and unlike that on the girls’ dormitory building, it had a security fence on the sides facing the hillside and the forest.

“Ha! I am more than your match, fembot!”

“Come down right now, and we’ll find out!”

Kenji looked down at her from the top of the security fence. “I think not. Everyone knows that at close quarters, fembots are deadly. Even with my lacquered body-armour and superior masculine fighting skills, I am not made of carbon-fibre composite materials.”

Daintily, he picked his way along the narrow steel framework on which the fence was mounted. “Thanks for the preview, fembot. This was only a short run. Even if we started at the gift shop or the swimming pool, I’d beat you to my home roof.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Of course. I am the Dark Avenger.”

“I’ll see you tomorrow night at the museum, moron!”

“Any time, fembot.”

*****

“Miss Ibarazaki, what can you tell me about pyroclastic aquifers?”

“Hm?”

“Have you been paying attention at all? It has been one whole week in which your usual lack of academic concern has been replaced by total indifference to life in the classroom.”

“Erm…”

“Go and wash your face. Come back and when you have a more coherent answer, we can decide on whether you have detention class after school or not.”

“Sorry, Miss Haraoka.”

*****

“I can’t keep chasing you around the school at night.”

“Then don’t! I release you from your programming.”

“It doesn’t work that way. My grades suck. I might beat Miura on the track, but I’d hate to lose to her at studies!”

“You can just download stuff from the internet into your brain.”

“I wish!”

“Right. Your circuits are broken.”

“Broken?”

“You’re a sad, pitiful shell of a has-been fembot.”

“You… what? Aarrrrggghhh!”

“Get your hands off me! I let my guard down just once to give you some advice and you…”

Kenji wriggled free, his marginally superior mass winning out over Emi’s unfocussed fury.

“We can do this every night, fembot, and I’ll keep winning!”

*****

‘Exhilaration.’ She’d looked it up in English class. In English, it meant ‘something that made your hair stand up’—or at least, it was what she thought the dictionary was trying to say.

That’s what she’d felt for the last few nights. She’d never been able to get in more than a touch, occasionally a few seconds. But something was happening.

“Nurse, you know how you smell something, and it makes you feel something?”

“Oho! Like when you smell your mother’s bento, the one when she sprinkles cherry blossom petals on the rice, and your saliva leaks out?”

“That’s gross!”

“Or maybe when I smell cherry blossom, and everything leaks out?”

“Euuuuwww, that’s even more gross!”

“Maybe you’re having an olfactory hallucination, or olfactory-induced hallucination.”

“Wha-at? Stop throwing confusing language at me!”

“Emi, is it lemons this time?”

“Nurse!!”

The Chief Nursing Officer at Yamaku stood up and stretched, almost like a cat.

“Miss Ibarazaki, will that be all?”

She looked so downcast that he almost felt sorry for her.

“Nurse, it’s pizza. I smell pizza everywhere. It’s like it’s following me around, and it’s… it’s… ”

“Cough it up, young lady.”

It’s turning me on.

For once in his life, Nurse was left completely speechless for more than a few seconds.

*****

Dark night, dark city. The distant streetlamps beckon. I see the neon of the city below. It is tainted with the rich sweet scent of corruption. A true Japanese restaurant would never call itself ‘The Shanghai’. A true purveyor of curios would never call himself ‘Othello’, nor make jokes about it when asked. And what does, “You will always want more things,” mean in that context anyway? It is as bad as the Scottish mafia and the Catholic church. But as for me, I will remain…

“Ha! You almost got me that time!”

“I’m beginning to enjoy this!”

“No! Your kind cannot really enjoy anything! You have no souls!”

“Oh, really?”

“Aaaaargh!”

At the back of his mind, Kenji Setou was beginning to have flashbacks to the innocent days of his youth, when he’d watch cartoons in which one animated creature chased another around a pastel landscape. He felt strangely alive. A worthy foe, at last!

He laughed as he leapt across the gap to the cafeteria roof. It was a mistake—he knew at once that his wind was gone. And there, she trapped him.

*****

“Emi, you’re glowing.”

“Rin, shut up.”

“You look like you’ve been to the track shed at night again.”

“Rin, shut up!”

“Have you been doing the thing which I don’t have words for because it makes my soul itch?”

“I’ve been training!”

“It’s okay. Nobody likes talking about things that make their souls itch.”

*****

The evil in mankind is profound. The only reason to have congress with feminine robots is that feminine humans are more evil and drain a man’s life-force. Even so, fembots are fembots. One should remember that they are deadly at close range.

“Setou, how the heck did you get up there??”

“A true warrior never shares his secrets.”

“I’m coming for you.”

“You don’t have to come for anybody.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Here we go again.”

*****

“Thanks for everything, Miura.”

“Ibarazaki? Thanking me? Wow, even Marvellous Miss Miki Miura is surprised.”

“It’s been a great experience! You should try cross-country training more often.”

“Nah, I’ll still be gunning for you in the sprints.”

“I’ve decided to train for the long jump and hurdles.”

“You’re kidding!”

“Nope. I’ve been inspired to conquer other heights. Your funny friend, he’s taught me a lot.”

“Oooooooooh, does that mean what I think it means?”

Emi blushed, but only a little. “Yeah, he’ll always have a little pizza me.”

=====
alt index
Last edited by brythain on Sat Oct 05, 2019 9:42 am, edited 2 times in total.
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

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Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (#60—'Roofrunning')

Post by NuclearStudent » Tue Sep 24, 2019 3:23 am

thanks I hate it

classic brythian pun

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Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (#60—'Roofrunning')

Post by Feurox » Fri Oct 04, 2019 3:41 pm

Competition over. Congratulations Brythain. Truly. This story was some seriously good fun and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's quite light-hearted, and if I'm honest, I doubt the practicality of running-blades for roof-running - and I'm sceptical of Roof-running as a form of exercise anyway, but the heart-warming essence of this story supersedes that. I utterly adore the idea that much to Kenji's ignorance, he's a massive help for Emi's morale (and by implication Miki).

Seriously, a wonderful story. Thank you for writing it Bry, and again, congrats.

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Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (#60—'Roofrunning')

Post by Hanako Fancopter » Fri Oct 04, 2019 10:31 pm

Miki and Kenji, huh.... now there's a pairing with some potential. And you showed us such! Nice story!
An Unusual Friendship (Misha x Hanako Route)
Riposte (Rika Mini-Route)
One-Shots Thread (Random Smut/Meme Stories)

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Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (#60—'Roofrunning')

Post by brythain » Sat Oct 05, 2019 1:48 pm

Thank you, gentlepeople, for your kind comments. Yes, this was uncharacteristically frivolous of me, but I enjoyed it and I'm glad you did too! :)
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

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Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (#61—'Paralysis')

Post by brythain » Sat Oct 26, 2019 1:32 pm

The following post was written in response to Stiles Long's writing contest. Each participant was given a list of KS character pairings and a list of locations. One of each was chosen for this fic. There were a limited set of options available to participants in the contest and it may be that this fic resembles others. Any such resemblance is coincidental.
This is connected in some ways to '72 Hours', which is partly about Saki, and partly about something weirder.
This one has Suzu in it, so…



Paralysis

I am an obsessive list-maker with a list of things to do. Some time ago, I decided to switch to a laptop, even though I’ve always preferred a fountain pen or a brush. Laptop keys are easier to handle, for me.

I look at my list. Moriko, bless her horribly mixed-race heart, has got me a font so that the text at least looks like my horribly fashionable calligraphy. No point being sad about it—there are reminders of my diminished status everywhere.

I might be eighteen going on eighty-eight. The end is in sight, and the sight is at an end. I write poetry, badly; I paint lovely pictures that are now unsightly. I started porcelain painting, but that’s now too depressing.

And I look at my list. Taro? Check. Ritsu? Check. Shizune Hakamichi, my heir and successor who will be only too happy to take over as class rep? Check. I’ve checked off so many. I point my index finger at the list. Bang! Another crossed out. It’s a check-off gun. Yeah, one of my patented literary jokes.

Who shall I do today? Miki? No, not quite up to it; besides, that part’s easy. Wait. Yes, of course. Sigh.

*****

“Well, she was just seventeen, you know what I mean…”

Mutou looked at his younger friend grimly. “This is no time for your strange musical jokes, Goro. Is she going to be all right or not?”

“I asked you what had happened, and you said that you just saw her standing there, so…”

“Well?”

Nurse grinned. “Our aqua-tinted friend got tired, she fainted. Fortunately, the one-armed bandit caught her before she fell more than one flight. A small emergency.”

“How is she?”

“She’ll be fine. A bit concussed, some bumps and bruises, nothing broken. I’ll let her have visitors starting tomorrow. Best she sleep through tonight, if she can.”

“Let me know when she comes round.”

“She’ll be coming round the… sorry.”

Mutou rolled his eyes. Nurse’s oddly inappropriate sense of humour could be tiring at times. At least nothing serious had happened to Suzu. Yet.

*****

I’m Suzu Suzuki, Four of Five—always happy to be alive. I fall down the stairs, I get up again, no luck with women, no luck with men.

Where’s my head? Oh yes, in bed. Which smells like hell of antiseptic, that’s the life of a narcoleptic.

Hey! Hey who? That’s not me making hey, that must be you, or it must be… they.

“Suzu!”

“Oh hello,” I say, finding my outside voice. Things are becoming focused, or coming into focus. “Honey blonde, good dye job. Saki!”

“How are you?”

“Can only move my mouth, but that’s all I need, as the hooker said to the bishop.”

“How are you feeling?”

“Saki, you aren’t always this chatty, right? Do you expect me to return the favour?”

“I heard you couldn’t be moved. Concussion.”

“Ahahaha. Actually, I have these episodes where I don’t feel like moving, and I lie here enjoying the feeling of helplessness and inability to summon the effort to move my limbs. Apart from that, I’m fine.”

“I had to talk to you. Sorry you’re in this situation. Probably better though, since you can’t run away from me.”

“Run away from you? Why would I? I normally stay far enough away from you to not have to run.”

“We’ve had good times before.”

That gets to me. It gets to something deep inside. It gets to something very deep that I have tried to hide.

I try to raise my disobedient head and look at her, but all I can manage is, “What? Why are you saying that?”

“Because it’s true, and I’m sorry and I’ve got to go.”

“Now you’re sounding a lot like Hanako.”

“Still with the rhymes, dear Suzu? You’ll never change, and I hope that remains true.”

“My outside voice is in prose, mostly. But sometimes I speak in haiku.”

“If I can see you one last time, I will. Otherwise, best of luck. Remember: guillotine, corsage, horseshoe, chameleon.”

Ow. When I wake up, it’s dark and cold in the medical centre’s ‘cargo hold’. I don’t know why there are tears in my eyes—all that is happening is quite a surprise.

*****

“She slept like a baby, your student did.”

Mutou raised an eyebrow over his raised whisky tumbler. He was a Tsingtao man, but sometimes life needed a shot in the arm.

“Yep, totally out. Your class rep visited her, they had a nice chat, then Suzuki just rolled over and went to sleep. Enomoto kept talking for a while, but there was no further response. It’s as if she just didn’t want to talk to Enomoto anymore.”

“Hmm. That’s interesting. They were friends back in First Year, then in Second Year, they…”

A frown appeared on the science teacher’s face as he tried to find the right words.

“Broke up?”

“Not the words I would use, but something along those lines.”

“The two have something in common, as you know. They’d suffer from spells of inability to move, which can be quite frightening. Suzuki got a support group—the people who sit around her in class. Enomoto isolated herself, and when it got extreme, the two of them just got more distant.”

“Should I be prepared for the worst?”

“Yes. It will come soon. I’ve already signed the transfer documents. Enomoto will be going home soon. She wants to take the special entrance examinations, although she’ll probably not see university.”

“That’s sad. The girl has a wide range of talents, and a precious love of learning.”

“My friend, you know what we’ve signed up for in this school. Some of them just won’t make it. And some leave nothing behind at all.”

Mutou raised his glass. “Memory eternal, to all of them.”

Nurse raised his can. “Memory eternal. You have more Sapporo in your fridge?”

*****

It happens one peaceful night in 2009, just as the sakura season begins in Osaka. As the lights dim and flicker, and just before the red ones come on and the beeping begins to get furious, an electronic signal is sent out. It releases a message.

Sometimes, complicated people do devious things. And they have complicated friendships that require it.

*****

In 2008, Miki Miura is busy, and not in a good way. In fact, she has gone in such a way that it is likely her friends will not want to know her. She lets people touch her, and she shuts it out, and she makes a living. There are people who love a cripple in their own sad way. There are many ways towards eternity.

In March 2009, she is in a much better state. She is finding a life for herself, doing something happier. But her phone beeps during an off-hour, when she was falling asleep, and a message appears, with some instructions and words of thanks.

“What the fuck,” says Miki tiredly to herself. But because it’s such a strange message and a personal one, she calls Suzumiya Suzuki, because friendships don’t die so easily. There are tears in her eyes before she calls, and even she doesn’t know who those tears are for.

*****

I’m Suzu Suzuki, Four of Five—always happy to be alive! That’s not quite true, as my four sisters know, but I’ll run with the sun and go with the flow. That’s interesting, my phone is a-ringing, my social life isn’t exactly swinging.

“Hello?”

“Hey, sleepy Suzu, it’s marvelous Miki Miura here. It’s been a long time! How are ya?”

“Miki! It’s been a year since we last spoke! How’s your work in the big city?”

There’s a curious silence that promises violence, a large lump of quiet so big you can’t tie it.

“Didn’t quite work out, but I finally got a place to stay with a roof over my head. One day I’ll tell you more. Maybe. Anyway, I got this fucking weird message from an old friend. Well, sort of.”

“What kind of message?”

“I’m gonna tell you something, then hang up.”

“What? Hey, what?”

“Guillotine, corsage, horseshoe, chameleon.”

*****

The last few minutes drain from Suzu’s mind, as the paralysis takes hold. Miki hangs up. She hangs up. Something begins to unspool in her head. She’ll wake up, free at last, and there’ll be something left behind.

*****

Dearest Suzu,

If you’re reading this, then it’s finally happened. I can’t move anymore, I can’t speak anymore, and my emergency is greater than yours. What I’m doing now is a big ask, the ultimate selfishness I’ve ever imposed on you, and I’m sorry for that.

There’s nothing more personal than to share one’s body with another, and there’s no greater loss than to not share what was once freely shared. So I had a difficult time convincing myself that I could do this at all, and that it would be fine if I did it to you. I’m still not sure.

This is me, Saki Enomoto, vulnerable and alone, naked in your head. Or at least, it’s the part of me that I’ve shared with you, but selfishly did not tell you about. And now that I’m in my last few days, it’s time to remove this last intrusion, this last unwanted sharing in your head.

It’s called a post-hypnotic suggestion. Some people say you can only be hypnotized if you really want it, subconsciously. I’m going to bet that you do want it; if you don’t it won’t happen. And if it doesn’t happen, it’s no loss to you, and it won’t matter to me, since I’m going anyway, and I’ve made my peace.

All this elaborate effort, for what? Well, it’s to say that I still do love you, I’ve loved you, and knowing that I was dying, I decided to avoid loving anyone else again. That included you, and I didn’t tell you. I couldn’t tell you. You would just have tried to hold on till the end.

Yet, that’s what I did. I’m doing this very selfish thing because I can’t bear not to hold on to the end. So when you were half-conscious in the Medical Centre, I decided to plant my last goodbye in your head. Right now, you’ve taken out the blank piece of handmade mulberry paper and removed it from its plastic wrapper. You’re writing this with the pen I gave you, that somehow you always kept with you without really wanting to get rid of it. If the ink’s dried up, well, that’s something I couldn’t fix. I’ll just hope you press hard enough to make it visible.

Suzu, you have been the brightest fixed star in the bowl of my night. And now that bowl has just gotten darker, and is almost completely black. There is one last fire in that darkness, and it’s my dream of you. You and I, and a small house along a beach, and a little cat who kept interrupting us while we laughed and ate cherries. In my mind, the house disappears, one white plank at a time, each brick, each window. The cat walks away. The cherry stones lie lonely in their bowl, and then they too vanish.

I’m holding your hand. You’re holding mine. We move each other’s hands, and everything else falls away in the heat. Neither of us can move, for one brief moment. And then it all unwinds in your memory, and flows out through this writing, and that is you and me forever.

The air is cold outside. And soon it will be cold inside. Remember me, if you will. Goodbye, my Suzu.

Saki

******

I’m Suzu Suzuki, Four of Five—always happy to be alive! That’s not quite true, as my four sisters know, but I’ll run with the sun and go with the flow.

What is this stuff I seem to have written? A doodle of a bowl and a kitten…


END



Note: ‘paralysis’ comes from the Greek for ‘broken down on one side’.

=====
alt index
Last edited by brythain on Sat Oct 26, 2019 9:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

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Razoredge
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Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (#61—'Paralysis')

Post by Razoredge » Sat Oct 26, 2019 1:52 pm

Well, I have to say, this is really a beautiful piece. That's fucking sad, but beautiful as the same time. You managed to make me sad, which is a hard thing, to be honest.

I really liked how you have written this letter, such as the rest of this piece, sad and beautiful.
You did it well, really.
Lilly = Akira > Miki = Hanako > Emi > Rin > Shizune

Stuff I'm currently writing : Beyond the haze : A Lilly Satou pseudo-route & Razor's One Shots & misc.

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Scroff
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Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (#61—'Paralysis')

Post by Scroff » Sun Oct 27, 2019 3:10 pm

While reading this beautiful story it occurred to me that After the Dream is a fractal rather than a mosaic: wherever you look there's more and more intricate, surprising detail to be found.

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brythain
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Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (#61—'Paralysis')

Post by brythain » Mon Oct 28, 2019 6:40 am

Very recently, I had a death in my family—the day I wrote this piece, in fact. Actually, the last few years have been pretty bad.
Some of that has come out in the five years that I've been writing KS fanfic, and it has honed my art somewhat.
So when I read the wonderful comments that people have written about my writing, I just want to write more.
Thanks very much, people!
Razoredge wrote:
Sat Oct 26, 2019 1:52 pm
Well, I have to say, this is really a beautiful piece. That's fucking sad, but beautiful as the same time. You managed to make me sad, which is a hard thing, to be honest.

I really liked how you have written this letter, such as the rest of this piece, sad and beautiful.
You did it well, really.
I was thinking that's indeed an achievement. I'm happy you had that particular type of enjoyment out of it!
Scroff wrote:
Sun Oct 27, 2019 3:10 pm
While reading this beautiful story it occurred to me that After the Dream is a fractal rather than a mosaic: wherever you look there's more and more intricate, surprising detail to be found.
It's like life. There will always be more details, and they surprise me too. When I write characters, sometimes it's as if they sit down with me for a jam session, an interview, or a quiet meal.
Last edited by brythain on Mon Oct 28, 2019 9:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

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Feurox
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Location: England, Oxfordshire

Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (#61—'Paralysis')

Post by Feurox » Mon Oct 28, 2019 7:14 am

This was a wonderful story, if actually quite heartbreaking. I’ve been thinking about doing another Saki story myself, and this certainly captures the trapped poetic beauty i’m aiming for. Suzu’s final act of reading the letter, and then drawing subconsciously, I can see them with Suzu gently crying, and somehow being given a small carthasis.

Brythain, simply wonderful. Thank you for writing it.

Oh, and I’m not your judge, just thought I’d leave my thoughts anyway.

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brythain
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Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (#61—'Paralysis')

Post by brythain » Mon Oct 28, 2019 9:58 pm

Feurox wrote:
Mon Oct 28, 2019 7:14 am
This was a wonderful story, if actually quite heartbreaking. I’ve been thinking about doing another Saki story myself, and this certainly captures the trapped poetic beauty i’m aiming for. Suzu’s final act of reading the letter, and then drawing subconsciously, I can see them with Suzu gently crying, and somehow being given a small carthasis.

Brythain, simply wonderful. Thank you for writing it.

Oh, and I’m not your judge, just thought I’d leave my thoughts anyway.
Trapped poetic beauty is very close to it; Saki has immortalised herself by remote action. At the same time, it's purgative for Suzu, and she can now get on with her life, free of what encumbered her unknowingly. Thanks!
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

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