Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (#54—'Night Terrors')

WORDS WORDS WORDS
User avatar
brythain
Posts: 3430
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 8:58 pm
Location: East Asia
Contact:

Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (44—'Wingbeats') (20151231)

Post by brythain » Thu Dec 31, 2015 10:04 pm

I had some really odd feedback about #44. I wondered why, until I realised I'd accidentally cut and pasted an old draft instead of the final work, one in which I hadn't worked out a large chunk of it. Oops. #44 is restored now. For those of you who were wondering... well, I'm truly sorry. Happy new year!
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

User avatar
brythain
Posts: 3430
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 8:58 pm
Location: East Asia
Contact:

Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (45—'Bear & Tears') (20160119)

Post by brythain » Tue Jan 19, 2016 3:54 am

I suppose this is a kind of thematic sequel to #18—A Bear Discovers Fire.
However, it isn't from that continuity or any other I've written so far. It can't be, for obvious reasons.



A Bear Discovers Tears
being an excerpt from the secret sections of ‘The Autobiography of Hakamichi Jigoro’ (2008 Edition)

My name is Hakamichi Jigoro, and I am writing this in ink, using the traditional style. This is to make clear the difference between the document I am creating here and the one that is my official autobiography. The reasons for such a difference may become obvious to the discerning reader. If you are not so discerning, too bad.

(Editor’s Note: In this English edition, I have attempted to preserve the nuances and atmosphere of the original. Sadly, in Mr Hakamichi’s case, the potency of his words and the forcefulness of his directions with regard to editorial policy render such attempts challenging at the very least, and often impossible.)

*****

This story, which I have, in uncharacteristic indecision, not yet decided to include in my autobiography, is one that began a long time ago. I will tell the real story, and then I will tell you the story I would have written, if I could. Alas, I am not a god.

It is awkward. I am doing what a father must. I am in the quiet place that I am at, every March, every May. There are several occasions in each year you can rely upon for me to be in this place. Of course, I am someone who is more dutiful than that, and indeed, for years, I visited at least once a month, or even more frequently. Now I come here for inspiration, when my mind is tired and the elegant phrasing of my words is broken.

“Kitsune,” I whisper, using the nickname I had given her in my youth, “My voiceless fox-child, I hope you can somehow understand that I wish that you were happy.”

It seems needlessly sentimental. But I look down, and Shizune does seem happy. She says nothing, of course, as usual. She is dead, as is her mother. My heart was broken the first time around, and a broken vessel is already broken—further breaking doesn’t make it more so. Broken is broken. Or so I thought.

I am useless with stories, I sometimes think. But I have a book, I have written a book. So I imagine this is just another chapter of my ‘Art of Juggling’, and I keep on writing. Let me set it down, and you will see.

*****

One day in spring, which is beautiful in my chosen home of Saitama, I am cleaning the stones and offering the favourite food—a delicacy of Hokkaido, milk biscuits from the Sapporo Agricultural College. If you are a foreigner reading this, think of it as a common folk ritual carried out to respect those who have gone before. My Shizune always liked those biscuits, which my wife Mayoi used to receive from her brother’s company; and so I always associate these treats with the females missing from my life.

It is then that I notice the woman watching me. With my lightning eye, I profile and outline her. Younger than I am. Slightly busty, a little fleshy, medium-brown hair which is naturally that colour and hence unusual. Also, indulging in behaviour that is awkward to say the least, and impolite to some extent.

With a start that shows lack of deliberate intent, she realizes she is being rude, and bows swiftly in my direction. “Honourable sir, very sorry for intruding on you, very sorry. Hai, very sorry.”

Of course I am irritated. This is my quiet personal time. I have not even brought the sprout today, because he has work to do at home, and I thought it best to let him apply his will to industrious behaviour.

Yet she has apologised intensely, if not elegantly, and so I respect that. She is not bad-looking or unkempt. She is just a little blousy, or whatever word you would use to describe a typical housewife type. She is wearing a long-sleeved well-knit top, and long skirts too. Her clothing lacks transparency, being quite modest.

“You are forgiven,” I reply courteously. Courtesy is one mark of the gentleman, in certain situations. I am about to turn away and resume my meditations when I think to add a few more words: “To what do I owe your ‘intrusion’?”

The woman blushes. I wait. Then she speaks, rather shyly, softly, almost as if she expects me to swing a blade at her or something. “Those biscuits, they were my daughter’s favourites as well.”

With something almost akin to horror, I see her uncover a cream-coloured box almost exactly like the one I’m carrying. The familiar, rather plain but descriptive, design elicits immediate recognition from me: Sapporo Agricultural College milk biscuits.

I sigh. I am Hakamichi Jigoro, not some mendicant priest to be importuned by the ignorant for the telling of fortunes or some idle chit-chat. But I don’t think this is the situation. Perhaps the gods are tweaking my beard, and I should respond cautiously.

“My family name is Hakamichi. I too have lost a daughter.”

“My family name is Kobayashi. I’m very sorry to have annoyed you.”

Annoyed? Am I really annoyed? Surely not… well, yes, I am. I chastise myself momentarily for lack of control over the visible aspects of emotion, and try to give her a genuine smile. I haven’t managed it since Mayoi went away, to be honest, and I haven’t even tried since Shizune left me.

“No, it is no trouble, Kobayashi-san.”

Somehow, time passes. One thing leads to another. And a month goes by. A month, and another month, and another month. It turns out we are both quite dutiful in our observances, and becoming more so.

*****

Almost a year has passed. We are sitting in a little café just around the corner from the cemetery. I have no idea when Madam Kobayashi and I became ‘we’. She is an almost-divorced widow, in that strange world where halfway through divorce proceedings, normally quite short in my country, one party is removed from the face of the earth. She has just told me she would much have preferred to be an almost-widowed divorcee.

“That is a most peculiar sentiment, madam,” I exclaim drily. If anyone can exclaim in a dry and unexcitable fashion, it is my son Hideaki. Let it never be said that Jigoro refuses to learn from others.

Actually, it is indeed peculiar, but I understand why she feels that way. I have done my research. As a Hakamichi, one learns to use the tools of the trade: the Family network and its various appurtenances, and one’s own native intelligence and ingenuity.

“It’s not so strange, Jigoro!” she says fiercely. “My soon to be ex-husband should have been beaten and tortured first, and then allowed to live in a jail cell forever. He and his inane laughter, together as life companions!”

“Inane laughter?”

“Yes!”

She says no more. But I know what she is hiding. Her husband was a maniac. He thought he was an emperor’s illegitimate son, something that would never be countenanced in our society. He thought that gave him the right to beat his wife and daughter, the bastard!

The daughter would’ve been about Shizune’s age. Let me tell you something about that daughter, from her own mother’s lips.

The poor girl had been cheerful, although unfortunately prone to loud outbursts of laughter. She had always wanted to be friendly and helpful. These traits did not change, even after several stiff beatings over the year, and a diet of daily abuse. One beating left her half-deaf. Another left her perpetually dizzy. One day, a little blood vessel in her head burst, and it ended there.

I find myself musing aloud. Before I can stop myself, I ask a rather forward question. “If your daughter had lived, what would she have been?”

Madam Kobayashi is somewhat taken aback, but she considers my interrogation calmly enough. A brief pause, as if to collect the right words, and then she answers with a series of heartbreaking words.

“My Shiina, she wanted to be an interpreter for the deaf. After she lost part of her hearing, all she could say was that it must be very hard for those who were deaf in both ears. She dreamt that she’d meet a deaf friend and between them they would share an ear together, she used to say. But before she got to high school, she was… gone.”

Years may pass, but grief doesn’t diminish. It just spreads from intense pain to a dull, broad ache of melancholy. Sometimes, it pulls itself together, in a flash, a moment of sudden agony. That can bring clarity, it can bring an opportunity to unburden the soul. I know, because it has happened to me.

I look at the grieving widow, this lady in which ‘grief’ and ‘widowhood’ are separate and unrelated. She fixes me with her intense golden gaze as if asking me to respond, and it surprises me even then, that I do so.

“My Shizune, she was deaf, and along with that, unspeaking. We tried to get along, but I was stubborn, and in the end, after my wife left us, I… sent her away to a school where she would be better taken care of. She would write letters to me, wishing for a friend who could share her problems and difficulties as she grew up. She never found one.”

“What happened?” Madam Kobayashi asks, her eyes large. It’s a very impolite question, but I have come to understand that with her, it is genuine and comes from deep personal concern. So, it is not rude at all.

“She fell off the school roof,” I say bluntly. I can’t say more.

*****

Things happen. More months pass. One day, I walk through the front door of my own home, my manly posture much recovered over the months. Hideaki looks up from the book he is reading, some foreign book. It is one of a set about ‘The Art of Computer Programming’, by an unpronounceable author who doesn’t know how to number his volumes. My son seems to like that kind of thing.

“Father,” he says in greeting. He actually stands up to give me a nod, what passes for a bow these days.

I favour him with the steely gaze of the father who expects more, but I’m in a good mood, so there is nothing more biting than that. “Son,” I reply.

Normally, that’s most of our conversation. But my male offspring is looking at me with what I can only think of as a dodgy look.

“What?” I ask. “Is it the ‘Art of Computer Programming’ that makes you want to analyse your father’s face? Better you should read my ‘Art of Juggling’ instead, and learn something more broadly useful!”

“Have you done all those things that would have been most optimal yet?”

“What?” I ask again. Stop that, Jigoro! I say to myself. Repetition is not a sign of cultural excellence.

“Madam Kobayashi, Father. I estimate it is of high probability that you should have by now eliminated her evil husband and courted her towards resolution. Mother’s been gone a long time, and we both need a replacement. Your cooking is terrible and you never remove the eggshells from the omelettes.”

I am suddenly aware that my mouth is hanging open. “Wh…” I begin, somewhat weakly, before realizing that to say the same something three times in a row is silly and only happens in fairy-tales. I disguise my lapse by continuing, “Where did you get all these funny ideas, sprout?”

“You’ve taught me to be observant. So I have observed. You have repeatedly ranted about how one should use the computer for informative and educational purposes. So I have done so.”

I raise an eyebrow, daring him to continue. To his credit, he blinks, and does.

“She’s rather pretty, Father. And I am sure Big Sister would have approved.”

Even Jigoro of House Hakamichi has a breaking point. I stride towards him and embrace him in the manly fashion. It works well so that he cannot see my tears. Unfortunately, I leak upon his roof, in a manner of speaking, and he complains about the wetness.

*****

Now, more than a year later, we are a happy family. But when we go together to pay our respects, I sometimes exchange glances with Kobayashi, whose personal name is Minori. We’ve often wondered how our lives would have changed, if Shizune, my little fox-girl, and Shiina, her little helpmate, could have met and become friends.

Perhaps, in some other universe, this was true.

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

User avatar
brythain
Posts: 3430
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 8:58 pm
Location: East Asia
Contact:

Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (46—'Ghostbusted') (20160229)

Post by brythain » Mon Feb 29, 2016 12:36 am

They say that a leap day is the one day in a year on which time isn't quite what it's supposed to be.
It's when we can think of 'ghoulies and ghasties and long-leggedy beasties' as part of daily life.



Ghostbusted

“You can’t be serious, Lils!”

This is indeed the tone of voice my sister adopts when she speaks with me. She’s older than I, by about seven years, and never lets me forget it. In a sense, that’s a lot like Father, who is even older, and who has retired for the night in a fit of Japanese apoplexy—which is to say, he had a little too much sake and had my mother escort him upstairs.

“Are you out of your mind?” she continues, somewhat predictably.

I sigh. “Edinburgh is now our second home, Akira. Surely as small-business owners we should support local enterprise?”

“This isn’t ‘local enterprise’! This is bollocks!”

I wince. My sister can bring herself to be charming for a brief span of time about once a month. This is not that time.

“Let me read this to you again, Lils.”

Hi. I’m David, and I am the foremost spirit investigator in this part of the Old Town. I investigate any kind of paranormal activity and report back with my findings. It is like ‘The X-Files’ but without the drawback of having to explain my conclusions to a scientist…

By the time she reaches the part about having his cards misprinted as advertising for a ‘goat hunter’, we are both laughing uncontrollably and Father’s single-malt whisky collection has taken yet another memorable hit. Nevertheless, there’s something I need to tell my overprotective elder sister.

“Akira, I know this sounds foolish.” I put up a hand to forestall resumption of her rant. “But I’ve told you that sometimes, when I’m walking down the Royal Mile or even around our restaurant, I do feel an inexplicable chill. Can you imagine the effect it might have on our clientele?”

“Lils, that’s nonsense! Edinburgh has been said to be haunted for centuries, and it doesn’t hurt tourism or local business at all!” She sounds frustrated, impatient. She’s my dear sister, but as usual, she’s missed my point—a point which I realize I haven’t quite made yet.

“I’m not talking about hurting our business, but… Akira, imagine what would happen if we had a reasonably reliable and relatively harmless ghost around Northern Light?”

There’s silence. I can tell she’s caught on; as usual, she’s as quick to catch up as she is to judge or to express her views.

“That’s a brilliant idea, Lils.”

*****

‘David’ is charming, but he’s not really a David. He’s actually a Michael, or perhaps a Peter, or some other Biblical character. Maybe a George. And he can’t really find ghosts. He just pretends to hunt them.

Or so I have begun to think, the day I decide to terminate our contract on the specific grounds of non-delivery of services. What’s painfully ironic, as I feel it is later on, is how he actually does find a ghost.

I’m dictating a letter of termination into my voice terminal when I hear a commotion in the outer office. “Tsk!” I whisper, tutting my irritation. Can’t the new office intern keep the riff-raff out?

Apparently not. Michael, or Peter, or David, or whatever his name is, comes into my inner sanctum, all excited. I can tell it’s him from the odd scent of incense that he wears around him like a shroud. Excitement, I can tell from the tone of voice he was using while railing at Celia outside.

“Lilly!” he exclaims, brandishing something left-handed in the air. I hear his cheap but heavy stainless-steel watchstrap clink as he does that.

“It’s Miss Satou to you. What is it?” I respond primly. He’s about to get fired, after all. I’m proud that I’ve never let him call me ‘Lilly’ unquestioned. It’s called professionalism, although some call it ‘bitchiness’.

“I’ve got proof of your ghost. And one helluva scary bugger he is too!”

George Michael, or Peter David, or Gilbert Sullivan, or whatever his name is, he’s no true Scotsman. He’s certainly not Dunedain; I’ve lived long enough in Edinburgh to know one when I hear one.

“Here!” he yells. Or perhaps, “Hear!”

There’s a click-tap and I hear the hiss of an unfiltered digital recording. I don’t hear anything significant for a while.

And then it comes. There’s a faint, rather un-Scottish voice whispering in the background. If I listen harder, there’s also the unearthly tinkling of some music.

“If you cheat Lilly Satou, I will haunt you forever. I will make sure you have a manly supper with Kenji and taste bad pizza made of your own sliced sausage and cheese for eternity. Tell her that I love her. And then never go back!”

A voiceless hiss of relative silence follows, and then the whispering repeats itself. The voice is suddenly familiar. Gently, I switch off my dictation microphone and cover my face with my hands. Quietly, so softly that nobody else can hear, I say to myself, “Oh, Hisao, I love you too.”

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

User avatar
TubaMirum
Posts: 119
Joined: Fri Feb 19, 2016 12:11 am
Location: United States

Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (46—'Ghostbusted') (20160229)

Post by TubaMirum » Mon Feb 29, 2016 1:20 am

Oh that was just a charm :lol:
Gustav Mahler wrote:If you find you're boring your audience, go slower not faster.

User avatar
brythain
Posts: 3430
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 8:58 pm
Location: East Asia
Contact:

Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (46—'Ghostbusted') (20160229)

Post by brythain » Mon Feb 29, 2016 12:14 pm

TubaMirum wrote:Oh that was just a charm :lol:
Glad you liked it! It's also likely one of my shortest stories ever. :)
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

User avatar
brythain
Posts: 3430
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 8:58 pm
Location: East Asia
Contact:

Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (47—'Singlehanded') (20160318)

Post by brythain » Thu Mar 17, 2016 11:44 pm

Alternate routes are fine, but they often mean tragedy to someone else.
Shizune vs Misha, Lilly vs Hanako... and there's this one.



Singlehanded

If there’s one thing I could always beat Ibarazaki at, it’s dealing with people. She’s all wrapped up in how shit her life is and things like that, but she got away with it because of her puke-green puppy-dog eyes. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate her, but she wasn’t the most considerate person on earth.

So there I was, queuing up to get my arm checked, when I heard the old pervert say, “Maybe you should take him running, would be good for his heart.” Or something like that, because as you know Miss Miki Miura ain’t so smooth with words.

Something snapped inside me, y’know. Good for his heart? Whoever it is, whatever’s wrong with his heart, I said to myself, Ibarazaki doesn’t do coaching well. Heck, even now I remember her main idea was to push and push and push until something gave way and then say, “Hey you loser, come on, you can do it!”

That kinda thing doesn’t work for everybody. And so that’s how I made the fateful damn decision to help out the new guy in my class.

*****

“Hi loverboy, I’m home!” I yell, only too happy to be back in the small apartment that Nakai-san’s rich parents are able to afford. I take off my working shoes and try to feel less like a slut as I wiggle my feet into comfy home slippers.

No reply. That’s my boyfriend for you. It’s evening, he’s home from the university, what a bright boy he is, and still he can’t stop working. So I sigh, take off my spare hand and dump it in its bracket by the door, and shoulder my way gently into our home.

He’s there, gazing into space. I snap my fingers at him, and if I had two sets I’d snap both.

He startles, shifting in his fake-leather ergonomic seat at the computer. “Hi, Miki,” he says, in a tone of voice that’s unenthusiastic even for Hisao Deadpan-san. In the past, both of us needed a long lead-in before we could get comfortable—we both have body issues—but now I’m a lot better at being intimate, and he’s still awkward.

“What’s up, Hisao?” I try not to sound pissed-off, even though I am. I’ve had a hard day, how can a day at the university be worse? Come on, leave it all behind, enjoy a quiet dinner or maybe a stroll around town or something.

“She’s dead.”

Wow, that’s deadpan even for Deadpan-san. Or maybe he’s in shock.

“Who’s dead?”

“Tezuka.”

Well, sorry, that’s sad, but it’s not the end of my world. I mean, someone our age goes down, that’s cold. Always is. But it’s not the pit of despair for me, hardly knew the woman, that kinda thing.

“Aww, that’s sad,” I say softly, because that’s what you have to say, and it’s part of what I feel. Me, I mostly just say what I feel, but not all of it. Some people get offended if you say everything.

“She just starved to death.”

I look at the screen in front of him. There’s a news article. I scan it quickly. I’m not illiterate, you know. Miki reads fast, it’s just retention and reflection that are problems, as many, many, many teachers have told me.

Apparently she was found in her studio above the art gallery where she lived. She’d been smoking, but not eating; the piece mentions that she was very thin. I feel a deeper sadness. Nobody looked after her. Nobody cared. Her art just about paid the bills and she left very little else.

I turn away.

“Miki?”

“Yeah?”

“You ever feel you could’ve done more for some people?”

I look over my naked shoulder at him. I just want to get my black tube-top and my hot pink wraparound skirt off and have a warm shower, get the filth of my workplace, the stink of the smoke, the stench of money off me. But yeah, Hisao Nakai, I feel that sometimes.

“Yeah,” I say. “And sometimes you do more, and someone else gets less.”

It’s on nights like this that our usual closeness and sexiness and happiness just don’t show. Between us there’s that shadow. Two years ago, before we graduated, Ibarazaki’d killed herself. She’d been depressed, and lonely, and after her workout, she just took a bunch of pills she’d sneaked out from the infirmary. The creepy head nurse got sacked over that, and offed himself too.

Maybe, if I hadn’t taken an interest in Hisao, she’d have had something to live for. Or maybe not. Who knows? You can’t singlehandedly make the world work. It’s all broken, and even people with two hands sometimes can’t keep their shit together.

I strip quickly and toss my clothes into the basket. I know what’s left of me looks good. People pay big money to watch me pole-dance with my ‘magic hand’. My own Nakai-san gets horny just looking at my butt and the way my muscles ripple. But tonight? I think neither of us is going that way.

“Having a shower,” I say unnecessarily. “You wanna get dinner?”

There’s silence for a moment. Without turning around, I hear him get up and walk to the kitchenette. He’s good that way. Me, I’m not a very good person. Sighing, I head to our little bathroom. I just want to wash everything away, one hand at a time.

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

User avatar
Dannflor
Posts: 16
Joined: Tue Mar 01, 2016 3:04 am
Location: Oregon - Raining

Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (47—'Singlehanded') (20160318)

Post by Dannflor » Fri Mar 18, 2016 12:24 am

That was shocking. Miki's tone was perfect, and I liked the stripper choice. With very little you managed to elicit a very strong emotional reaction from me. The way Rin died, or even the Nurse and Emi. Hisao's reaction, MIki's callousness. That was great.
Rin > Lilly > Hanako > Shizune > Emi

Kenji's Destiny - A One-Shot

User avatar
Sharp-O
Posts: 894
Joined: Sat Jun 20, 2015 7:03 pm
Location: UK
Contact:

Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (47—'Singlehanded') (20160318)

Post by Sharp-O » Fri Mar 18, 2016 7:00 am

Shit... I could easily see Rin going that way and that makes this worse, somehow. Not so sure on Miki's callous attitude. I always imagine her as blunt, sure, but she would care. But then this future is a little bleak and there's probably more to the circumstances soooo, I dunno.

Way to bum me out first thing in the morning, Bry! :lol:

User avatar
brythain
Posts: 3430
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 8:58 pm
Location: East Asia
Contact:

Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (47—'Singlehanded') (20160318)

Post by brythain » Fri Mar 18, 2016 7:36 am

Dannflor wrote:That was shocking. Miki's tone was perfect, and I liked the stripper choice. With very little you managed to elicit a very strong emotional reaction from me. The way Rin died, or even the Nurse and Emi. Hisao's reaction, MIki's callousness. That was great.
Sharp-O wrote:Shit... I could easily see Rin going that way and that makes this worse, somehow. Not so sure on Miki's callous attitude. I always imagine her as blunt, sure, but she would care. But then this future is a little bleak and there's probably more to the circumstances soooo, I dunno.

Way to bum me out first thing in the morning, Bry! :lol:
Ah, but it's not callous attitude—it's her callous exterior. She feels a deeper sadness when contemplating Rin's fate, but she doesn't show it on the outside. She's brutally honest with herself, but perhaps not so with those around her, which is possibly how she can do what she does for a living, without 'bringing her work home with her'. Also, she's not so good with words, she claims—and I've tried to convey that in her diction. :)
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)


User avatar
brythain
Posts: 3430
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 8:58 pm
Location: East Asia
Contact:

Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (47—'Singlehanded') (20160318)

Post by brythain » Sun Mar 20, 2016 10:29 pm

Sharp-O wrote:You've got a point there. Miki's never been good with words, or putting feelings into words at least.
I like writing Miki because she's got a unique voice. I think of her as being foul-mouthed but embarrassed about it at times, and secretly wanting to be a bit more of a lady. :)
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

User avatar
Sharp-O
Posts: 894
Joined: Sat Jun 20, 2015 7:03 pm
Location: UK
Contact:

Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (47—'Singlehanded') (20160318)

Post by Sharp-O » Mon Mar 21, 2016 8:09 am

I can get behind that, my take has always been that she just needs some encouragement. Abandoned by her mom, coming from a poor country background, losing her hand... All major factors to her having a shitty outlook and probably feeling like she won't amount to much but with the right people around her; nudging her in the right ways to do better, to be better - she can be so much more than her humble origins.

She just needs a helping hand from time to time :wink:

Plus it's just fun to have that one character who will tell someone to shut the fuck up or throw a punch at minimal provocation :lol:

User avatar
Gajzla
Posts: 245
Joined: Mon Mar 09, 2015 6:52 pm
Location: England

Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (47—'Singlehanded') (20160318)

Post by Gajzla » Mon Mar 21, 2016 1:48 pm

Well that was certainly darker than I was expecting. A good read still though. I’ve been nervous about reading other stories with Miki in them in case they somehow effect how I write her. But it’s been a year now so I think Miss Miura is probably safely secured in my head at this point.

Your voice for Miki is great, she comes across as grizzled and perhaps a little uncaring. But firmly grounded in reality, or at least a realistic way of thinking about things. Like she says, you can’t fix the world, it’s broken. Yet you still have to live there.

Nice work. :D

User avatar
brythain
Posts: 3430
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 8:58 pm
Location: East Asia
Contact:

Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (47—'Singlehanded') (20160318)

Post by brythain » Mon Mar 21, 2016 10:42 pm

Sharp-O wrote:I can get behind that, my take has always been that she just needs some encouragement. Abandoned by her mom, coming from a poor country background, losing her hand... All major factors to her having a shitty outlook and probably feeling like she won't amount to much but with the right people around her; nudging her in the right ways to do better, to be better - she can be so much more than her humble origins.

She just needs a helping hand from time to time :wink:

Plus it's just fun to have that one character who will tell someone to shut the fuck up or throw a punch at minimal provocation :lol:
We have similar Mikis, though of course with different 'origin stories'. Mine had heroic parents who were taken away in an untimely manner. Then she got slung into the same orphanage as Hanako... :)
Gajzla wrote:Well that was certainly darker than I was expecting. A good read still though. I’ve been nervous about reading other stories with Miki in them in case they somehow effect how I write her. But it’s been a year now so I think Miss Miura is probably safely secured in my head at this point.

Your voice for Miki is great, she comes across as grizzled and perhaps a little uncaring. But firmly grounded in reality, or at least a realistic way of thinking about things. Like she says, you can’t fix the world, it’s broken. Yet you still have to live there.

Nice work. :D
Well, your Miki is certainly a great piece of work too, distinctive enough to not be contaminated by my own. :) Thank you. Dark isn't necessarily all I do, though...
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

User avatar
brythain
Posts: 3430
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 8:58 pm
Location: East Asia
Contact:

Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (48—'Manhood') (20160419)

Post by brythain » Tue Apr 19, 2016 1:00 am

What kind of consultancy does Jigoro run? And is that even his real name?


Manhood

It is tonight that it will happen. I read books, both Japanese and foreign, and I know what it is that they will want. I am a very logical person. One of my father’s many nicknames is ‘The Thunderer’, and sometimes I think that it is because he makes a lot of noise, but does not appear to do much else. That and the Hawaiian shirts together both convey the sense of someone not to be taken seriously.

So I lie in bed, my teenage loins alert, and yet I am feeling like a girl about to be deflowered for the first time. Out there are the men, or the women, all in black. They are coming tonight. I shiver a bit. How does anyone know about the moment of their death? This is the point in the long seasons of the serial that a minor character gets written out of the plot. I am a minor character. I am not an adult yet.

Did you get my joke? No matter. I am used to people not getting my jokes. They think I am a girl, and serious, and not able to make jokes. After all, I am myself a joke, just like my sibling. We are both jokes to our father, the Juggler. No, he is never called ‘The Joker’: his hair is not green enough. Ha, ha.

Father is not at home tonight. “If I am always at home, how will you learn to take care of yourself?” he always says. This is why I think they will be here tonight. I always think they will come for me in the moments deep in the night when father is not around. They will come for my sibling, and then for me—or the other way round, depending on their mission and their objectives. It is like a game. They will earn victory points for doing this.

*****

It’s a large detached house in Saitama. In the old days, it would have been wood, with all the hangings and the creaky boards—the classical ‘nightingale floors’—of more traditional times. Now it’s all concrete, and glass, and steel, and other things that make the master want to spit.

Three? Three! Now he wants to curse. In the old days, it would have been one, drawn by lot, highly skilled at what he or she knew, a shadow in the smoke of the silence. A dance in the night, moonlight gliding over the still air like a crane in flight, and then a death needing no explanation.

But this is a training mission, an easy target, something thought up by idiots who have been to the Kennedy School or the Business School at Harvard. His very tiny whisper of disloyalty hints that his masters are more foreign than Japanese. Yet, they are still his masters. So, training missions.

Technology moves with the times. It’s not eggshells and pepper anymore. It’s laser spotters that can blind, mist pellets that can spot lasers and sonic scans, optically confounding designs in microscales and microfibres. The two young dolts with him love the stuff. He sighs silently.

And then they’re in across the alley without touching the ground and they arch around the window frames like elegant spiders with dainty feet and three of them outline a triangle of death around the known location of the target. One braces above for entry, one embraces shadow to the side, supporting. The master twitches, irritated at the sloppiness he sees.

Slash out a circle in the darkness, and the window becomes a gate. Enter the gate, and if you have initiative, the target is as good as dead. But only dead is really as good as dead. The first student finds this out the hard way. The second finds out something else, in a marginally easier way, but still as hard as death.

That damn Juggler. How did he ever get to be so skilled? He acts the buffoon all the time, a traditional role, to be sure, but why Hawaiian shirts? It smacks of disrespect. And he’s not even at home, to decently score his triumph.

It is no shame to lose to Jigoro Hakamichi, but it rankles. Silently, the master disappears into the friendly streets of Saitama, just another salaryman finding his lonely way home. He leaves the two dolts behind. He smiles silently to himself; it’s a smile that anyone viewing would mistake for a snarl of anger.

*****

The Juggler is home punctually at midnight. He staggers in, looking like yet another businessman who has had a hard day. His awkward perambulation masks a careful look at all the key points of his home’s defences. He notes that some have been reset, and that minuscule shards of glazing indicate forcible entry. The boy has cleared up well.

He changes out of his suit and shoes and dons slippers and a robe. Cautiously, he ascends the stairs, dares a quick look by means of mirror and optic fibre. His son is resting, breathing slowly and steadily but in full alertness. There are two packages, their hearts still beating in the darkness near the kitchen. One day, the Juggler will come home and find two lumps of dead meat instead. He grins.

Better let the boy get his rest. Jigoro scans his environment once more and then goes to the study. Minutes later, he notes the credit report. 330 points for the two ‘kills’. Not bad. At this rate, the boy will reach manhood ahead of the curve. One day, the Hakamichi Clan will have a new Sword, and it is likely to be sooner than later. The Juggler grins once more.

Ah, but first things first. He has some writing to do. Before bed, another chapter of his autobiography must be completed. It’s useful cover. His one hope is that his daughter Shizune never finds out where all those brain-damaged cripples really come from.

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

Post Reply