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

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brythain
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Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (#53—'Festival') (S8)

Post by brythain » Thu Feb 22, 2018 9:32 am

This one's also written for the 2017 Secret Santa project initiated by ProfAllister.

Victim: QuietlySomething

Prompt: My prompt is a fic about Shizune and Lilly from their early Student Council days, trying to work together to organize a project or festival (or something to that effect).



Festival

L

[We. Will need. 20 more stalls.]

I feel her fingers digging emphatically into my palm. She doesn’t need to do that; my hands are sensitive and responsive enough to catch a butterfly without squashing it. Talking with Shizune always hurts, and yet, she’s family. Without the Hakamichis, I wouldn’t have a home outside the school, and I wouldn’t have a place in this school.

I gently turn her hand over and let it go, to signify that I’ll be replying. It’s a tense little hand, and when fully open, it gives off the scent of passionate stress, as if it’s been clenched for far too long.

In my mind and body, I feel the space between us fill with possibility. I move my hands, I shape meaning. It’s almost like making love. I don’t have to see my hands to know that I’m communicating.

[You’ll get your 20 stalls. My classmates are more hardworking than those in any other class.]

My hands, suddenly free, have perhaps been a little too free in expression. My cousin will probably take that as a sharp rebuke. There’s a little of that, I must confess. I hadn’t meant to put quite so much in, though.

I hear her sigh. It’s like a pent-up bubble of sadness and fear and anger has suddenly burped its way up from where it used to hide in the depths of her skinny waist. She seizes my hand, as she always does—I must have developed additional forearm muscles just from the incidental resistance training—and resumes her assault on my palm.

[I. Am not insulting. Your class. I. Only want. To show others. New members of Student Council. Are capable. Are worthy successors. To. Outgoing Student Council. Who did not do much.]

It’s my turn. Gently again, turn and release. Shape the space.

[I understand. I’ll fill out the requisition orders for planks as well. Here are the accounts for the month just past. You can show them to the outgoing President, if he’s still interested.]

Grabbed. I’ve learnt to go with her actions.

[We. Don’t have to show. Documents. To anyone. We. Are in charge. Now.]

I suppose we are. Her hands are warm and twitchy. Is she upset? Have I made a mistake? It’s always so hard to be Shizune’s friend. The cousin bit I can’t avoid.

I hear, in the distance, the skip-scuff cadence that belongs only to one person in the school. Mentally, I dial down my hearing acuity. There’s no point listening hard when everyone two rooms away can probably feel the vibrations. The door clunks open and I prepare for a new kind of onslaught.

Clearly, my cousin senses this through our hands. Shizune’s body makes a half-turn toward the door, and I feel her muscles tense. She lets go of my hand before I can do anything else.

“Shicchan! Richan! Sorry I’m late, I went to get extra buns with the red-bean filling and also with cream and some fried octopus balls with cheese sauce!”

It’s always been a mystery to me quite how Misha manages to sign intelligibly with what must be both hands full of food. But she has the skill of communicating with both of us simultaneously. I get audio, Shizune must be getting video. I can even hear things swishing through the air.

She closes the distance quickly. I can smell the strawberry fragrance she uses, clashing with the wild-apple scent of her shampoo. Anyone else would think Misha’s a fluffy girl who likes giving hugs. I’m quite sure the fluffy part is a façade, and she actually is very protective of her body space—unless it’s my cousin. For some reason, she has a thing for Shizune’s sharp little elbows.

Contemporary accounts tell me that they had some sort of bust-up just before I transferred into the school, but that they became the best of friends again. I have long since stopped doubting Natsume Ooe, who likes ‘setting the record straight’ but will not otherwise opine on current affairs.

I do, however, wonder what that was all about. Perhaps it was a communication problem. Misha is likely an inaccurate translator, from what I can gather, but she is fast and effective on the fly. I suppose it’s a trade-off, and maybe she thinks it’s something like artistic license.

“Hi, Misha!” I say brightly. I point my face at her and smile. Positive vibes, I tell myself. I have to keep telling her to call me ‘Lilly’, even though it’s a lost cause for many of my schoolmates. I will always be ‘Riri’ to them. Misha, on the other hand, wants to speak English like an American. She’ll have to learn to give ’em L.

*****

S

My cousin infuriates me. She is unfailingly positive, especially in the assumption that slow and gentle action will lead to hugely successful outcomes. This is not always the case.

Communication with her has always been a problem. To be honest, this is as much my failing as hers. I am not good at projecting meaningful sounds in a way that is pleasing to me. The air comes out of my mouth and feels all wrong. I can see people flinch when I speak, and worse, they fail to understand anyway. So I do not. They can flinch when Misha speaks. She does not mind.

Speaking to her is literally only within the reach of my arm. Then I can grasp her wrist firmly, and she will open her hand as she has been taught, and I can speak to her through her palm. I can tell she does not like it. Maybe I use my nails too much, but in my opinion, it makes for greater precision.

Today, I feel I have successfully conveyed the shortfall in the number of stalls for our next school event. She is right. Her class works hard, so she deserves the credit for their efforts, as class representative.

The problem is that working hard is not always working efficiently. Most of the people in that class are visually impaired—that is true. But I know for a fact that visual impairment does not mean they cannot make the stalls the same shape and size. Yet, that is what they fail to do.

Having different-shaped collapsible stalls is inefficient. If they are not the same size when collapsed, it is hard to calculate how many we can store in each standard storeroom, and it always means there will be odd stalls we have to put in temporary locations like the music rooms. I once stored one in the archery range, and some fool thought it would be funny to use it as a target. Storing another one in the track and field shed just led to other difficulties.

And here is Misha, just in time. I am starving. It takes a lot of effort to be patient with my cousin, even though I have had a lot of practice doing so.

[Shicchan! Richan! Sorry late! Extra buns red-bean also Hokkaido cream! Fried octopus balls! Cheese sauce!]

I observe that she is somehow able to convey meaning while swinging food around like a crazy person. Over the months of our friendship, I have learnt to read her distinctive motions. It helps. But she could just have shown the food to me. Maybe she is signing as a courtesy while telling my cousin all about it.

[Hi Misha. Thanks for bringing all that food.]

[Is the meeting over already?]

I sigh. I do that a lot. [Not really. We are just addressing a shortfall in resources.]

[How come we have a shortfall?]

Because we listened to your stupid suggestion to have a big Christmas party, that’s why. Immediately I feel guilty for thinking it, and apologise to Misha in my head. Of course, I do not let any of that appear in my hands.

We all agreed. And it felt like a good idea. It was a good idea, actually, until some of the lighting got caught on a stall and the wiring got exposed. It was my cousin who caught the scent of burning first. She has an almost supernatural sense of smell.

We had not a large number of stalls in the first place, so this shortfall we are discussing is just larger than otherwise. It has very little to do with Misha.

[Well, we never had many collapsible stalls in the first place, so now we should stockpile them, because our Christmas party was a small one, compared to the schoolwide festivals we are going to have.]

I put a lot of enthusiasm into my signs, so that Misha will not think back to Christmas and worry about whether it was her fault. It is one of the things I must do because she is my friend, and because we had a past misunderstanding that was very painful to her. I cannot afford to do that to her again.

[Shi’chan! You’re so ambitious!] She grins and somehow manages to drop all the food onto various convenient surfaces. All the while, her mouth is delivering what must be parallel commentary to my cousin. It must be some sort of gift, to be able to multitask somewhat effectively while acting like a dizzy schoolgirl.

Wait. With her vertigo and all, she is a dizzy schoolgirl. The corners of my mouth twitch before I manage to fully suppress my laughter. Misha would want to know the joke, and this is yet another of my insensitive moments. Bad Shizune!

*****

M

I’m Misha. It’s so hard being Misha!

But I tell myself everyday that I deserve to be a fun person, I deserve to be a good person! I’ll get food for everybody because that’s what a good person does.

Look at Shicchan. She’s skinny and neat and eats like a horse. Me, I look at cheesecake and I grow an extra layer of fat cells. She, one bucket of KFC later, is just about full and will be hungry again for dinner. I don’t begrudge her that! It’s part of the fantastic person she is!

Look at Lilly. She tries to be easy-going about being teased. She tries so hard not to feel offended when I call her Richan instead of Lilly. Everything with her is control, down to her daily tea ceremony. But on the outside, she always looks so calm. It’s kind of sexy. And she’s so tall!

I know I’ll be late for the meeting. But face it, Misha, those two don’t need you to get stuff done. What they need is someone to remind them to eat, someone who can distract them from the stuff they dislike about each other. They’re cousins! Family shouldn’t fight! Family should work together.

“Hi everyone!” I exclaim, signing badly because my hands are full of food. “I’m late (but you don’t need me anyway) and I got lots of good stuff for you to eat!”

I can see the burning light in Shicchan’s eyes. She gets so passionate, especially when she sees good takoyaki. And of course, she loves desserts too, and I have a couple of Hokkaido cream buns. I got two because Lilly loves those too, and she’s tall enough to eat them and not show it. True enough, I can see her sniffing the slightly fermented bread yeast fragrance.

They need the extra food! There’s a lot of work coming up, and I think it might be because we didn’t have many collapsible stalls to begin with, and I went and got some of our stalls burnt in an electrical fire. Silly Misha!

They’re probably unhappy at being landed with extra work, I think it’s 25 stalls and Shicchan and I will probably make five just by ourselves in the carpentry shop behind the main block. It’ll be hard work, but it’ll be fun!

I have to keep telling myself that because otherwise I’d be sad. On a bad day, I realise I don’t really have anyone who loves me. But on a good day, I realise I’m still young, and there’s always a good chance that someone will like a short, fat, happy girl…

Meanwhile, I compliment Lilly on her accounts, which she’s thoughtfully placed in the in-tray, and I compliment Shicchan on her ambitious ideas. Sometimes it’s hard to keep two conversations going at the same time, sometimes it’s relatively easy. Sometimes, you also have to keep track of the interpretation you’re putting in the conversations, just in case people get the wrong idea.

On a bad day, I think people hate me for being such a scatterbrained idiot. But on a good day, I’m doing so many things at once that I must be some sort of genius.

My real wish is that some day, when we graduate, we’ll be able to take a picture, just the three of us. It’ll show us celebrating, the most successful Student Council executive committee in our school’s history! Yay Misha! And also Shicchan and Lilly of course.

I put one of the cream buns in Lilly’s open hand, and a box of takoyaki balls in Shizune’s. “Enjoy!” I tell them.

Then I stuff bad-day Misha inside where she belongs, and feed good-day Misha a red-bean bun. “There’s enough for everyone!” I say brightly, through the thick sweetness in my mouth.

=====
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)

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QuietlySomething
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Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (#53—'Festival') (S8)

Post by QuietlySomething » Thu Feb 22, 2018 11:02 pm

I really enjoyed this! And thanks for going out of your way to write for the prompt; I thought it was a shame that it seemed it would never see the light of day.

You added a lot of little touches that I thought added atmosphere really well- the way Shizune's speech is all broken up from Lilly's perspective, the fact that Misha can't pronounce Lilly's name. The fact that Shizune and Misha both scold themselves in the third person, lol.

Overall you captured the sort of scenario I was envisioning when I suggested the prompt. I enjoyed the perspective switching as a way to focus the story primarily on all the characters' internal monologues and reactions to each other.

Nice job!
Last edited by QuietlySomething on Sat Feb 24, 2018 1:54 am, edited 1 time in total.

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brythain
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Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (#53—'Festival') (S8)

Post by brythain » Sat Feb 24, 2018 1:48 am

QuietlySomething wrote:
Thu Feb 22, 2018 11:02 pm
I really enjoyed this! And thanks for going out of your way to write for the prompt; I thought it was a shame that it seemed it would never see the light of day.

You added a lot of little touches that I thought added atmosphere really well- the way Shizune's speech is all broken up from Lilly's perspective, the fact that Misha can't pronounce Lilly's name. The fact that Shizune and Misha both scold themselves in the first person, lol.

Overall you captured the sort of scenario I was envisioning when I suggested the prompt. I enjoyed the perspective switching as a way to focus the story primarily on all the characters' internal monologues and reactions to each other.

Nice job!
You're very welcome, and thank you for all that positive feedback! :)

I was trying hard to capture the fact that the three have obvious and profound differences, but also subtle (and less-subtle) similarities. I hoped it would work!
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] (#53—'Festival') (S8)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Sun Feb 25, 2018 4:47 pm

Very nice story, but [insert my usual reaction to the vertigo running gag]. :-)
All characters are spot on, though I especially liked Misha's interior monologue ("I’m Misha. It’s so hard being Misha!")...
Somehow it reminded me of some god wearing an elephant mask (not sure how many people will know what I'm talking about...)

Also I updated the index - we're slowly getting towards completion...
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

My collected KS-Fan Fictions: Mirage's Myths
griffon8 wrote:Kosher, just because sex is your answer to everything doesn't mean that sex is the answer to everything.
Sore wa himitsu desu.

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Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (#53—'Festival') (S8)

Post by brythain » Tue Mar 06, 2018 10:05 am

Mirage_GSM wrote:
Sun Feb 25, 2018 4:47 pm
Very nice story, but [insert my usual reaction to the vertigo running gag]. :-)
All characters are spot on, though I especially liked Misha's interior monologue ("I’m Misha. It’s so hard being Misha!")...
Somehow it reminded me of some god wearing an elephant mask (not sure how many people will know what I'm talking about...)

Also I updated the index - we're slowly getting towards completion...
Ha, sorry about the vertigo thing. My take is that Shizune believes it's true but Misha does it to disguise something else...
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] (#53—'Festival') (S8)

Post by Oddball » Sat Mar 17, 2018 7:54 pm

This is wonderful little story. if I have any complaint, it's that it's too short. I would have loved to see more of this. There's just so much personality you've packed in such a small space.
Not Dead Yet

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Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (#53—'Festival') (S8)

Post by brythain » Mon Mar 19, 2018 9:06 am

Oddball wrote:
Sat Mar 17, 2018 7:54 pm
This is wonderful little story. if I have any complaint, it's that it's too short. I would have loved to see more of this. There's just so much personality you've packed in such a small space.
That's a great compliment! I wrote it to blend in with AtD, so in a sense there's more of it. But I realise this has a much more upbeat mood, and I'm glad you like it. I suppose one reason it is so short is that I wrote it under time pressure, in about an hour before I had to run off and do something else. Perhaps someday it will get expanded.
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] (#54—'Night Terrors')

Post by brythain » Wed Aug 29, 2018 11:29 pm

Night Terrors

Aaaaaah!

What did they do… ? Where… am I? I won’t go down without a fight!

Quick look around. Nobody can defeat Kenji, whose eyes have seen what no man can see.

Oh. It’s dark. I can’t see anything. But I can’t normally see normal things anyway.

They took my arms away! Like they did to my fellow agent! And my legs! They might be turning me into a fembot like the other one!

I turn. I try to stand, but I can’t. Then I know. Okay, that’s good. I’m only tied to a chair. I’ve still got legs and arms and those feminist Catholic yakuza Scottish mafia sympathizers will not defeat me!

Once I get free, that is.

The door opens. Dammit, you’ll never take Kenji alive! You won’t be able to make me speak! It takes a while to realize that I’m not speaking anyway, there’s a gag in my mouth.

No. Nononono. It’s her! It’s Nemesis. It’s…

She sits on top of me. I can feel her warmth. I can smell her. Terrible things are about to happen. I know it. Moonlight gleams off her spectacles. It’s the full moon! That’s even worse!

She shifts her bottom a bit. And then a bit more. After a while, I can’t stop myself. Terrible, terrible things!

*****

Aaaaaah!

I shoot up from my bed. I’m sitting with my back against the wall. I’m always with my back against the wall. That way nobody can stab you in the back.

It was a dream, that’s all. A bad, bad dream.

It’s dark. I can’t see anything, which is just the way I like it. Too many spycams. Cautiously, I reach for my black-light lamp and goggles. I hope the damage this time isn’t too bad.

Quick look around. I will have to send my sheets for cleaning two days early.

*****

Aaaaaah!

I muffle my scream. In this house, you can’t make too much noise. It can have dire consequences.

My heart calms down. That's good. What a horrible dream. It’s enough to turn your stomach, dreaming you’re Kenji, and dreaming that you’re Kenji dreaming he’s you. Or something like that.

“Mmph?”

I look down at the small, dear body of Shizune Hakamichi, concealed by the pile of bed-linen, blankets and all, that she is always mysteriously able to drag over to her side of the bed.

I pat her gently on the bottom. It seems to reassure her and she lets out a soft and slightly erotic sigh before burrowing back into the blankets.

I freeze and listen for a while. You never know when a sword-wielding father is lurking around gathering evidence that you might be mistreating his daughter.

It’s about three in the morning, as the bright blue digits on her bedside clock indicate. I yawn softly and carefully tug back on the blankets till I have enough for myself.

As I go back to sleep, I can’t help but wonder: What if I wake up and find I’m really Kenji?

=====
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)

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