It all finally came crashing down in the year 200X+5 from your current year. The war between Heaven and Hell happened, and the battlefield was Earth. Two great forces with power over eternity thunders out onto the war zones. Lucifer’s forces of the darkness rose from the ground. A vast army of disgusting, vile creatures, horns on many parts of the body, fangs and talons threatening to rip any opponent to shreds. By them stood the dark mages and necromancers, using black magic from centuries past to bring the denizens of death into the killing fields, where they would prove to be invincible monsters with the ability to regenerate their broken parts. But even these creatures were nothing compared to the more humanoid monsters. Vampires and Werewolves and Succubus and Hellhounds, almighty creatures, once human, imbued with dark powers from unwilling benefactors. And in the middle of them stood the great one, Lucifer himself, surrounded by his many generals of darkness. A massive figure, the most powerful creature of them all, whose very presence damned all those near it into eternal decay.
The corrupted pits of Hell were contrasted with the righteous warriors of heaven, shining high from above. The powerful angels swooped down from the sky, their great wings spread proud behind them. The heavenly maidens, singing songs of mystic power and the proud unicorns marching in troops towards their demented enemy. Up next stood the Paladins, great warriors of noble family who had dedicated themselves to their Lord and would willingly be destroyed for this battle, for them no sacrifice would be too small. Then there were the mages and the druids, conjurors of nature and the universal energies. Their power alone was sufficient enough to deal with a portion of the enemy. Around him, the Lord could not help but stand proud, having taken an earthly form for this battle, he knew his children would do him proud. Below him, from the ground that was once a great city, he saw his final opponent; the Lord of Darkness himself. They had not seen each other for quite some time, not since the incident with Job. But both knew that now was the time when one would be decided the true master, it had been ordained eternities ago that this would happen and both were truly, finally ready. The lord found himself looking at the planet around him, their mere presence had upset the planet, Lucifer’s emergence into this realm had caused the city around them to be greatly damaged, the teleportation sphere that surrounded both armies had caused changes in the earth’s harmonics. This reinforced the Lord’s strength. He knew for sure now that this battle had to be won, if not for the planet below them, then for the entire universe.
It had seemed strange that it had come down to this, it had been foretold long ago, but even the almighty forces of the universe cannot truly see the future when it is against beings just as powerful as themselves. A lot of planning had gone into this battle on both sides, neither could risk anything. ‘It would be an all or nothing gamble, the omnipotent presence of the Lord found himself thinking. He stared into what counted as the devil’s eyes, as if they signalled to each other. They both closed the portal’s that their armies had come through and dropped the teleportation sphere’s that surrounded their finest servants. The war to end all wars had begun.
What happened next isn’t entirely clear. Survivors of the incident claimed that they immediately saw angels falling out of the sky, as if they hadn’t quite figured out what the white fluffy things on their backs were for. Others reported seeing a creatures so dark and gruesome that just the sight of them would normally drive them insane, if not for the said creatures currently sizzling and dying of asphyxiation, the oxygen apparently proving lethal to creatures who usually breathed in sulphur. Some reports said that they saw men in armour and old men with beards as well as cute girls also landing in various small craters, right around where Madison Square Garden used to be. Some saw, what appeared to be Vampires stand around looking confused, before somewhat expectantly exploding into dust. Meanwhile, the largest figure of them all in the air was also falling like a rather omnipotent, rather ignorant rock whilst shouting various blasphemous words that echoed throughout the countries, upsetting many a Christian. As he reached the ground, he quickly shrunk in size, it was as if he had thought of the planet for a second and changed to proceed damaging it further. Meanwhile, the other giant creature that appeared to be in charge found himself falling apart at the limbs and reopened his portal throwing himself back inside, not before leaving behind a huge muscular arm. The survivors of New York had quite a feast that night.
God, if he could be truly called that anymore after his horrendous mistake and calculation and somehow forgetting the basic rules of gravity would be found lying on the road of fifth avenue about three hours later in a position unfit for a creator of the universe. A man and his son, the only survivors of their family, would find him later in the evening. Their entire family of fifteen had survived the initial quakes and incinerations of the city at first. However, the last thirteen members of their family were unexpectedly taken from them so suddenly, when around two hundred white Unicorns fell on top of them, crushing and piercing as necessary. Needless to say, the man and his son, who was nine, but was fully aware of the religious controversial and scientific impossibilities that this scene had brought to light and tried it’s best to ignore, were both very angry at their lord for doing these things to them. They had let him off when the family dog was run over that day, but the destruction of their home, family and possible monthly income was just pushing it too far.
They decided that God needed to be put down a peg or two, and let him disappear back to Heaven without his eyes but a profound knowledge about how one can’t break his own laws of physics, which strangely enough appeared to be the boy’s main intention.
Now, ten, perhaps fifteen, it didn’t really matter, years have already passed. Earth had tried it’s best to move on. It turned out it didn’t really need God. It’s just such a shame that there’s all these creatures left on the planet.
I guess you could say I am a loner by choice, but even I doubt that. No one can truly want to be alone. Even if they do, it probably wasn’t their choice really; it was more likely to be a series of events that happened in their life that they couldn’t control. A loner is just someone no one understands at school, maybe they’re a little weird or too intelligent for the other kids, but it is still always the same, they’ll be the last on the soccer team, and sitting on their own at lunch.
People just like to believe that they chose to be alone to make up for the fact it was forced upon them. When all of a sudden everyone they knew just disappeared on them, joined other groups that the loner simply couldn’t be a part of, because neither understood each other. A person finds themselves focusing more on their work, or playing little games on their own, sullen and introverted, calling the other kids stupid as they giggle at everything they see, the only time they talk to anyone is when the local bully flushes their head down the toilet. Even the strong lone wolf type probably didn’t choose his way of life; it was more than likely his parent’s fault. A general lack of trust in early life leads to trusting no one in later life. Even if others find them cool, they find the others boring, or annoying.
Of course many don’t want to be a loner, people need companionship and many going along the path of a loner will desperately try to avoid it, they will become attention seeking, in whatever way possible, but even this ties them to their path. Attention seekers can be the worst, they become lost in the crowd. Everyone surrounds them, but no one is their friend. It becomes worse later, people just try to associate with them simply to make friends with other people. People are alone in so many different ways, many don’t even realise that they are alone.
It makes me wonder if I am the only exception when it comes to being alone, maybe I’m just trying to state I’m different from everyone else. Many do that, trying to claim they’re something they’re not, merely to try and make themselves bigger from what they are. But I would, do truly believe I am truly different from everybody else and just by realising that I may be lying to myself doesn’t confirm that I’m not.
But the reason I say I’m different is because I have seen these things and I am not these things, not really anyway. They are a few exceptions, for one my parents have recently thrown me out of the house, but they didn’t tell me they had, they just removed my stuff from the house and left it lying in the trash area of the apartment where I used to live in. You could say they were abusive, but most of the time they didn’t even notice I was there, so it’s not really.
I wasn’t considered cool in school either, so I can’t be the lone wolf type, I don’t think people admire me for a distance and I certainly don’t find others are boring or annoying or stupid and giggly. Out of my old classmates, I couldn’t call any of them my friends, I think only one or two people even knew I was there, even the teachers didn’t seem to bother. I was in a class of eight people once and I never said anything or even handed homework in, no one complained, no one cared. It’s not that people hated me or found me an outcast. In truth I never even knew what it was like to be bullied like some were.
It’s simply that I was never noticed by anyone, like I registered as some kind of blind spot. They would look towards me, and see nothing there. When people spoke to me, they would act as if I was asking for where the toilet was. I know I am not being noticed, it’s why my parents kicked me out, they simply forgot I existed, and decided to change the spare room into a games room. If I was being noticed and specifically ignored, then people have let me watched some very private acts and not done anything about it.
It wasn’t like I was invisible though, if I was people would walk into me all the time. In the street, people still move to avoid walking into me. If I went into a museum, I would still have to buy a ticket. So people noticed me, but it was more like they noticed me in a way that prevented them for having to notice me. I suppose it is better to notice me a little and walk around me, than not notice me at all and bump into me, meaning they would have to notice me.
Although I guess when it’s all over, I am still like the other loners. I am still alone.
Fifteen minutes have passed since I returned home, simply to realise that I no longer had a home. There was a snooker table where my bed was, and a TV where my end of the dinner table used to be. No one said anything special when I asked what was going on, but they did say that they had nothing to give me, I suddenly felt like I was a homeless person asking for change, only to be ignored by an uptight, penny pincher. Now as I stand outside the garbage area, where my old bed mattress is, I suddenly realise that I am now a homeless person, and hungry too.
I climb into the garbage can, I’ve seen people do it many times on television and hoped never to do it myself, but then I realise it’s not that bad, mainly because there’s not so much smelly rubbish in here, but rather my childhood items. I find my old school backpack, and use it to store a few things, a few changes of clothes that’ll probably now need washing, my blanket and a childhood toy, which I find myself unconsciously grabbing. It seems strange how I’m calmly reacting to all this, and even as I realise it, I remain calm, as if it was all expected, as if it didn’t really change anything in my life or anyone’s life. I guess it doesn’t, now instead of sleeping in a apartment among friends and family where no one knows me, I’ll sleep in a motel where no one knows me. I decide to get some food. As I walk down my old street, I find myself thinking of how I got to this stage in my life.
“Hurry it up kid, I have other customers you know” the man shouted from the kitchen behind the counter “and put that back unless you intend to pay this time” the so-called kid stared in shock as he pulled the chocolate bar out of his pocket and put it back in the basket where he had took it from.
“How? How does you always know?” the kid shouted melodramatically, dropping back down to the floor and looking through the menu one last time. His much taller friend leaned onto the counter and wondered how long this was all going to take this time.
“Because you try it every time, this isn’t a large café you know, you can’t take advantage of the public space and you certainly can’t steal something when the old man keeps stock of everything so well.” He stared at the sweets in the basket, then looked towards the giant whiteboard on the wall, at the very bottom of the giant menu, there was a small list, listing everything in the basket, including the candy pieces.
“I know, I know” the smaller, more lean boy whined “but it would be nice to get around him one day” he threw the menu behind him, hearing it land on the wooden surface above him and jumped back up to meet his other companion as he emerged from the toilet. “Hey Sagara, hey Sagara” the older boy stopped as his small friend bounced up in front of him. His bouncing only got him to the head level of his friend, to Sagara he seemed like a basketball at that moment. “Have you ever got anything off the old man?”
“Teh” the brown haired boy replied smiling “not a thing” he jumped over his friend as he landed on the floor before walking back over to his seat.
“Eeehhh” the boy pouted “but I thought you were the best thief here. Surely the great Sagara can steal a chocolate bar off the one who’s about to fall down dead soon for little ol’ me” the bouncing boy was suddenly pulled back, from his crouching position, he soon found himself on the floor, with the taller boy standing over him.
“You should be a little more polite about Mr. Ishida, Kaze. Especially when he gives us free food anyway,” his much bulkier companion pressed. Kaze looked up and just smiled, flicking at his friend’s nose.
“Whatever you say O-nee-chan” and then stuck his tongue out. The other one clenched his fist at his younger brother.
“Why you little” he swung his hand blindly to the left, causing Kaze to fly in that direction, he crashed into another table, sliding across it and onto his chair. Kaze seemed to ignore this and drank the milkshake that was there.
“Calm down Kage” Sagara said, sitting down to pick at his ice-cream, feeling his head get cold “we keep being this noisy and the old man’s gonna throw us out”
“If I hear someone call me old man again, I’m gonna throw you all out” from behind the counter came Mr. Ishida, a twenty something man in his prime, currently doing the stereotypical bar work of cleaning a glass with a hand towel. He put the glass down on the side and then turned to the boy eating ice-cream.
“Sagara” he said simply, from their table, the brothers looked on confused, as Sagara just stood up, sighing. He walked over to the counter and placed the chocolate bar in the basket. He then turned around and walked back to his seat.
“huh, what, when, boomshakalakaboom?” Kaze said confused, Kage too seemed to have very little idea as to what just happened.
“When Kage threw you across the room” Sagara said simply, sinking back into his seat. Kaze nodded to show he understood, but still looked on in amazement. He was sure he had been looking on the entire time.
“Kage’s here too huh?” the old man said in surprise, looking over to the young, spiky blond child.
“Kage’s always with me, ain’t that right bro,” Kaze said simply, as if it were stupid that Mr. Ishida had somehow missed out Kage’s presence. Kage raised his hand and waved to the café owner.
“Hello Kage” he said as if it were the first time that day “would you like anything?”
“No thank you sir, I’m fine” the older brother replied politely
“Well, shout if you do” he said walking into the back of the place. The café stayed quiet for a few minutes, as those remaining ate the last of their snacks. It was a quiet Tuesday as usual and the boys were the only ones there. Even on a normal day, the café never really had that many customers. It was in one of the many back alleys of the suburbs. The type of place that made very little money simply because those whom it was catered for were too afraid to go there because of the location and those whom were located nearby didn’t go there because of who it catered for were seen as too snobby. It was the perfect place for the boys, since they fell into neither category.
“Hhhmmm, bogey” Kaze mumbled to himself, as his hand played with his nose. He flicked into onto the window as another group of boys walked passed. One of the boys stopped to stare at him and quickly got angry. He was about to walk into the café to teach Kaze a lesson in the finer points of bone removal when his friend stopped him. He whispered into his ear, the boy stopped and they both moved away rather quickly, ignoring Kaze’s insulting faces. Sagara just found himself sighing again. “Hey Sagara” the small one shouted in his ear, causing him to sigh again, “what’s the job for tonight”, Sagara put his spoon down in disgust, he had been through this earlier.
“Wait until everyone gets here, as I said before” Sagara replied, annoyed “sheesh kid, that’s the fifth time”
“But no-one’s coming. I’m sure Shariku killed them all this time. She was bound to do it sooner or later” Kaze bounced onto the window, practically sticking to it as he scared an old woman walking past. He peered around the broken street. Even ten to fifteen years on, some places were still reeling in the after effects of the huge series of earthquakes and various other natural disasters that had taken place without warning or reason. Even so, life had moved on, a lot of the mess had been cleared up, but buildings still needed fixing. It was a time where you were more likely to make money as a decorator than as a lawyer. Kaze’s eyes glued themselves to the window as they scanned across the street, searching for any of the others; he knew he would spot them instantly if they came.
“No one’s coming Sagara” he continued to whine, “let’s just get on with this”
“Erm, Kaze” the kid turned around to his oneechan’s voice to see other people had entered the café “they’re already here”
“Huh” he looked towards the two that had just entered, one tanned boy with purple hair and one extremely pale girl with a black spiky hair-do with a large brown jacket “well why didn’t you say so” the boy with the brown coat just walked over to a seat on the other side of the room and sat down. The other boy just found himself still staring at Kaze.
“Hehe, that’s cool kid, so how’s it going” the purple haired one said, sitting down to Kaze’s table. Kaze looked on confused.
“Huh? What’s cool, what’s ‘it’, how am I suppose to know” unfortunately for Yamato, he knew Kaze wasn’t the sarcastic type. The younger boy was sincerely confused as to what Yamato meant. The newcomer found himself staring at the kid again. It happened regularly, since there was no real logical way to react to Kaze.
“Hey, look” Yamato said, pointing randomly through the window, Kaze, as well as a few of the others in the room spun round. Most of them realised there was nothing, but he knew it would keep Kaze occupied for a while. He quickly found a new conversation partner “Yo Sagara, what’s up, dipshit?”
“What” Sagara said as he turned around from his ice cream “what are you talking about?”
“Just being the one who maketh the local lingo my mon, apparenzy it be the new chill bill thing “ around here, Yamato said casually
“Ahh I see, my casual freer, and would this cheese of the modern rock bark be worth getting thrown through that billa lakka stain of sand there?” Yamato just stared, his brain translating the new modern lingo. It was something that the resident youth culture had been doing recently, talking in a strange way specifically to try and confuse each other. Yamato only associated with them on occasion, so when they did something new and hip like invent a language that made no sense, he often had no idea what was going on. Even so, he joined in doing it anyway. The boy’s brain slowly clicked as he realised that Sagara knew much more about this new language than he did.
“Okay I’ll stop” he sighed, leaning back into his seat, cursing yet another loss to Sagara “what’s the plan today then. Is the old man here yet?”
“That’s it” a voice came out from the back “all of you out” it was followed by Mr. Ishida himself, holding a long cardboard tube against his shoulder. He sighed as he put out the stub of his cigarette against the edge of the coffee bar before throwing the tube at Yamato. It sped through the air without warning landing perfectly on the boy’s hand as he caught it effortlessly at the end. He grinned at Mr. Ishida right before Kaze batted towards the floor.
“There’s nothing there” he shouted at his friend, “How dare you trick me” the cheerful look on Kaze’s face as he began to slap the air in front of the older boys face. Yamato was more than surprised when he found his face responding to the motions, the wind knocking him back and forth as the small child began to laugh hysterically, getting carried away by his actions.
“Oi” his older brother shouted, “stop that”, Kaze’s motions stopped as Kage stepped in. Now standing in front of his friend, the older sibling brushed dirt off Yamato’s face “sorry about that. I shouldn’t let him get out of control so easily.”
“Ah, don’t worry about it” said the younger boy as he settled down into his chair, fingering at Sagara’s ice cream remains “just keep him down until we’re finished” he watched as Kage took the tube from the floor and opened it, pulling out the large sheet of paper from within. Behind him, the group heard Mr. Ishida lock the door and press a button, causing all the blinds to slowly roll down.
“Wow, that is always so cool,” said Yamato from his seat, as the room was soon pitched into darkness. After they had reached the bottom, fully sealing the room from the outside world, all the lights in the room came on.
“Heh you say that,” said Mr. Ishida grinning to himself “but it wastes half my electricity every time I do it”
“You could just do it manually kid” Sagara stated as he glanced over the sheet of paper that Yamato had placed over the table.
“Do you want to leave via. the window boy, or the meat grinder out back” the older man asked politely, bursting with sarcasm.
“Sheesh, you don’t like ‘old man’, you don’t like ‘kid’. You could just tell us your age and be done with it” Sagara replied sighing, yet laughing inside.
“A professional likes to keep his secrets” the man whose age was unknown replied, walking to the table.
“I thought that was women?” the young man pointed out as a fist landed on the top of his head, before grabbing him and shaking him side to side.
“And aren’t we all professionals anyway, I mean we all get paid for this” Kage pointed out from the other side of the room “We are getting paid this time aren’t we?” he asked suspiciously.
“All the more reasons to keep secrets,” Mr. Ishida started “We’re considered mercenaries by some. One day we might find ourselves facing one another. In this world where nothing is stable, your long time ally might become your worst enemy, especially with you lot, seeing as there are so many rivalries in the group” he turned to face Kage, a calm smile on his face. “People like us need to keep our secrets, in battle, they can be the difference between a win and death. In life, they’re the one thing that stop us from being manipulated. Do you understand now boy?” he stared into the boys’ eyes, with a serene look on his face. (god this is sounding gay) Kage stood up quickly and saluted his elder.
“Yes sir” he shouted with eagerness, “Thank you very much sir.”
“Good” Mr. Ishida turned back around “Now, back to that plan thingy” he said as he went back to the table where the plans were.
“Hold it.” Yamato shouted, sticking his open hand out in front of his boss “You may be able to fool Kage, but not the rest of us.”
“What…what are you talking about?” His boss asked, a worried grin on his face.
“We are getting paid this time, right?” He repeated Kage’s line, this time demanding an answer, tapping his foot loudly. Mr. Ishida looked around, to see everyone staring at him expectantly.
“Now, come on boys,” he waited for a few seconds to see if this was enough to convince them. He realized it wasn’t as Sagara dropped the spoon into the ice cream bowl before making to stand up, “you know I’ve always paid you guys your fair share. We’re all equal partners in this. Everybody does what he or she can and it’s all important. Certainly you see that?”
“I knew it,” the boy interrupted “it’s that guy from before isn’t it, the collector moron who’s trying to restart the planets economy crap?” Yamato brought his hand back down before turning to leave the shop.
“Wait Yamato” the older man begged. Yamato turned around and stopped him again.
“Some punks tried to break into my base the other day” Yamato shouted out unexpectedly, with a hint of annoyance, “ there isn’t much there except some weapons and some tools, but they still tried to take all the food. When I got back and chased them out, I found that they had found what that my share of what that guy had given me. They found it so valuable that they had just thrown it around the room and stole the briefcase instead. I mean, if a bunch of morons don’t want it, how the hell is it ever going to convince the entire world that it wants to be used.”
“Now now Yamato” Mr. Ishida took a step back in response to the boys frustration.
“Just what the hell is a dollar anyway?” He screamed “and what the hell does a thousand of them get me?”
“Mr. Ishida” Sagara said sternly, appearing behind Yamato to pull his shoulder back. Yamato outburst stopped instantly as he calmed down to let his senior talk “Is it true that this job is from the guy who gave us the job before last?” The old man sighed once more.
“Yes, yes it is.”
“And does he intend to pay us with this paper once again?” he asked calmly.
“Yes, yes that is what he intends to do” Ishida grumbled as he put his head down.
“Then, you can either tell him to change it so that 50% of the pay is food and supplies and 50% is this money stuff, or we can go throw you into the meat grinder right now?” he waited for his teacher to weigh up the pros and cons of each option. When he started talking again it was clear that there was only one pro to the latter option and it had something to do with getting out of this conversation.
“Fine, fine I’ll tell him,” he said, holding his head while sighing, “but can we just get on again with the job description. For now, I’ll make sure you get food this time, Yamato?” he said, indicating the boys’ seat.
“I don’t want any dollars,” he said grumpily, sitting back down “just food, and some new blankets”
“Fine, fine whatever, just sit,” Mr. Ishida said, forcing the purple haired boy down onto the seat by his shoulders.
“Yes miss, the toilet is that way. It’s okay to use it” The short, fat, moustached man replied, as he cleaned the surface of the bar with a rag clearly dirtier than the bar itself.
“That’s not what I asked, I said do you have a room for the night,” the young girl repeated herself fpr the third time. The man had already turned away though.
“Hey Luigi” the man shouted into the room behind the counter, ignoring the young woman in front of him, “have you finished dinner for those two yet” The girl turned around to see two people, currently in a passionate embrace at the back of the room, around them all the tables were currently empty as everyone, or at least their wives and womenfolk tried to keep well away from the smell they were producing.
“Not yet bro” a reply came from the door frame “the fire’s simply not hot enough”
“Well theirs’ is” his brother retorted “hurry up, the sooner they eat, the sooner they stop”. The young girl found herself staring at the scene everyone else was trying so hard to blank out.
“They seem so at ease. Merged with another like that, all the worlds pains must simply go away.”
“Yeah, I just said, down the passage, can’t miss it, has a big word on it, says ‘toilet’” the plump Italian stereotype pizza-maker replied, ignoring her comments completely. The girl looked to where he pointed, she didn’t need the toilet, she needed a room. It was cold, even inside this place; she wished she had someone to be with like that. She even found it tempting to sit near them, just so she could get warm off their own heat.
“Oha Luigi, whata are you doing in there?” the older brother shouted as he went through the doorframe. The room beyond appeared to be outside the building and she could guess that the fire was going out due to the heavy wind there was out there. She saw several people take this moment to rush outside themselves, to avoid trading for their meals or simply to get out because their meal was suppose to be there the day before last. The girl considered leaving too, but she knew this was the only place she could stay that was to some extent secure. She had found one place already, and it responded by falling down around her, as some kids started playing with the foundations of the building. This was the only real tavern she could afford, mainly because they did not use electricity.
“What am I going to do?” she said expecting no answer from anything. Her eyes blinked a few times as she leaned across the side, she felt like she could just stay here for as long as possible. The people probably wouldn’t notice her even after closing time, but she would not mind a comfortable bed of some sort. She looked around the now half empty restaurant for some place where she might be able to sleep decently for the night. The only places that looked reasonable were the floor and the padded seating that the couple were currently playing each other’s violins on. She sighed to herself and hid her head in her arms. Something seemed terribly wrong with all of existence and no matter where she went it always seemed wrong, both the places she was at and her being there. It did not seem right that there was a tavern with only one guest room and a kitchen that was actually outside. It did not seem right that people could just sit in a restaurant and start fondling each other indecently and nobody would do anything to stop them. It did not seem right that horribly mutated children now roamed the streets looking for snails to throw through windows. It did not seem right that these children were then hunted down, beaten and killed. Not for their actions, but for what they were.
The whole world was crazy, nobody would deny it anymore, but to her, the whole world had always been this crazy. According to her old parents, it had been like it ever since a strange event happened which knocked the whole world out of place. Nobody truly knew what it was that had caused the events to happen. Some had said it was a giant earthquake, some said that two world powers went to war with each other, and the weapons they used knocked communications out of place and caused animals to mutate with humans. Some had even said that a god and a devil drew forth armies to battle each other and fought on earth, only to find that earth was not the best place for them to be due to scientific reasons and both sides were horribly destroyed, also causing damage to earth. She did not know what had happened, but then it was clear from all the stories that she had heard that no one else truly knew either. She figured that people could have first hand witnessed the events that caused the world to be like it was, and because so many people had different accounts as to what happened, even these people were convinced that they were wrong in what they had saw.
“Not that it matters,” she mumbled to herself, “even if people did know the truth, it wouldn’t change anything.” The blond haired girl looked around the room once more pointlessly, nothing had changed in the last minute and she felt a strange urge to get away from the public area and to somewhere private. The place seemed oddly suffocating for some reason. If she was able to get a room then she would have no problem, she could probably trade some things that she had got out of the dumpster seeing how she had no money. All she had to do was get the man’s attention and have him give her the key that was hanging from the wall behind the bar. The man did not seem to be able to listen to her properly for some reason. He had answered her question three times so far, and each time it had nothing to do with what she was asking, it was possible he was retarded, or perhaps she was and he was just trying to be friendly about it.
She began to wonder if she could get away with just taking the key. The Italian man who ran the place seem to be stuck out back with his brother trying to restart the fire to cook the pizza to serve to those customers that had just left the building with no intention of ever coming back. Maybe she could take the keys, run to the room, open it and quickly return them before he noticed. If she was able to remain quiet in the room that night, she could probably sleep on the bed there the whole night with no problem. Taking one last glance around the room, she decided that it would not hurt to try. Everybody in the room seemed to be minding their own, or those they were connected too, business. She stood up and tried to inconspicuously walk around the side of the bar, thus making herself more suspicious. No one seemed to have noticed.
Behind the bar, she could see many drinking glasses, all stocked up against each other, so as to remove one would mean to remove them all, thus breaking each and every one of them. She pondered to herself why they had done such a stupid thing. She stopped and squeaked to herself when she also saw a large shotgun sitting underneath the bar. Judging from where the man was standing earlier, it would have only taken him a few seconds to pull it out and push the bullets into her face. She shook slightly and found her body pushing her forwards, wishing to get the key as soon as possible. Making a louder noise than she should, she reached where the key to the spare room was hanging and took it off its hook. She looked around once more, to see no one looking at her in any way. Somehow, this caused her to start shaking even more. She slowly stepped back, realising she was only half way through her plan, and wondered if getting noticed would result in the man using the gun to apply it’s makeup to her face.
“I’lla said I’ll get some matches,” the tavern owner shouted back to his brother as he re-entered the room, “stupid cunt. Can’t light a fire, cavemen are smarter than you.” He whispered when he was behind his brother’s back. The girl felt her skull hit the skin on the top of her head as he appeared out of nowhere in front of her. Watching the man, she almost broke out into a run when she saw him kneel down and look into the shelf where the shotgun was currently resting. Her teeth began to chatter slightly when she wondered if she should get on her knees and beg for her life. The man stood up and walked towards her, an annoyed look on his face.
“Excuse me, my dear,” he said casually as he tried to get past the girl in front of him. Surprised, she instinctively moved to the side to allow him to squeeze past her. He walked past and seemed to forget about her, opening a few drawers and looking through them until he pulled out a box of matches as well as a piece of stone and a knife. The girl almost screamed when she saw him turned round to face her, the tip of the blade pointing at her stomach.
“Excuse me, my dear,” he said once again as he walked around her, without looking back. As he moved away from her, the girl saw him glancing at where the key was hanging before she appropriated it. Again she felt a small drop of fear as he tried to put two and two together with the facts laid out in front of him and a small answer book to the side. He left the room.
“Hey Luigi, have you seen the guest room key?” the man shouted to his younger brother. That was all it took for the young girl, she turned around and proceeded to run out of the building. The wind howled behind her as she did, as if it had discovered her crime and set out to chase her. Out on the old road, there were few people, and even fewer buildings that were not broken in someway. She ran for about two minutes, passed a youth with a giant horn on the middle of his forehead standing by a barrel with a fire in it. She stopped after about five more feet, already seriously out of breath, as she did the boy left the fire and ran into the alleyway’s darkness. Exhausted, she dropped down into an alleyway, behind a bin that would act as her wind block for the night, she rested her head up against the wall behind her and wondered why she had just done what she had done. She would wake up the next day, the guest room key still in her hand.
“The next town?” Yamato shouted to the others as dust blew into his face, “We better be getting a lot of food.” The abandoned jeep they were currently riding in was a small symbol of pride for Sagara. In the area where he had lived most of his life, this was one of the many features that had always been there. It had been stripped clean of it’s seats, mirrors and windows, as well as any other parts one of the many gangs of the city could yank out of it or pointlessly break. It was not until he stumbled upon a giant room filled with many small books that he found it was even called a jeep. It apparently belonged to some army before it was lost and the book had a full, comprehensive diagram on how the vehicle should work. It took him many months to find junk pieces to put it back together with, but as he drove down the large desert in it, it all seemed worth it just to hear the engine roar.
“I’m just hoping we can find some kind of fuel there, at the way we’re going we may have to walk some of the way there.” The older boy shouted back to his friend; as he listened to him complain about the mission.
“Heh, that may be better than this,” Yamato commented as he unconsciously put his hand in front of his eyes to shield them from the onslaught of sand that was currently attacking them. Whilst he may have fixed up the engine and all parts needed to make the jeep move forward, Sagara had found it impossible to find a piece of glass to replace the shattered windscreen that was there previously. He had no reason to complain though, since he was wearing goggles, his friend beside him however was not. “Man, this is annoying,” Yamato continued to complain. Having enough, he got up and turned around, facing the other passengers in the back seat. “You two okay?” he asked them, still shouting over the roar of the winds and the engine.
“Yes fine thank you,” Kage replied politely, his hands currently glued to whatever he could hold on to, to prevent him unexpectedly flying out of the strange machine that they were currently in.
“How’s Kaze?” Yamato asked Kage, behind him, he felt sand slowly building up on the back of his head and drop down beneath his shirt.
“He’s sleeping,” Kage replied yawning slightly, he spat out the jeep as some sand entered his mouth, “it is late you know.”
“He can sleep when he’s… well, you know”
“When he’s inside? Only half the time, the rest he just waits for an opportunity to burst out.” The older brother shifted around where he was sitting, it was hardly been a comfortable ride and it had been a long ride now for over two hours. Yamato turned to the other passenger, the pale boy with black hair, he was currently looking the other way, and up towards the bright, full moon.
“Yo, Shariku, you doing okay?” he asked grinning, knowing he would not get any proper reply. The girl known as Shariku turned her head slightly, her left eye glancing at the nuisance on the front seat, before looking back to the stars. “Sheesh it’s so boring” the boy sighed as he turned back round to face the sand coming head on into his face. He grunted in annoyance as more dust swam into his eyes.
“If you’re bored,” Sagara said as his friend wiped his eyes clean, “you could go over the mission plan, think of any good way we could go about it.” He looked at the gas meter. They would only be driving for another twenty minutes the way it was going.
“What is there to go over? It’s too standard, we should have charged extra for the mission being too stereotypical, especially since we have to take a three hour drive to get there.”
“I wouldn’t say it’s that stereotypical,” Sagara said, wondering when his friend would stop moaning. It was a common custom of Yamato’s to whine and moan as much as possible about something, and then have the time of his life when he actually got round to doing it.
“Oh come on, I mean we sneak in, take the special treasure and leave. The only thing that could make it any more stereotypical is if we set off an alarm that had no excuse being there, have to fight a ton of foot soldiers that all look the same except for different colour shirts to imply different strengths and then we’ll fight a big boss at the,”
“What in the name of my aunt’s left buttock are you talking about?” Sagara said loudly, stopping his friend in mid sentence, “a big boss? The least we may have to fight is a couple of security guards. There may be a small chance that one or two of them have mutations. There’s little to no chance that there’ll be any demons there and if there is they’ll be one at the most.”
“That’s exactly what I just said,” Yamato stressed loudly to his friend. From behind, a hand appeared on his shoulder, Kage’s head moved between the two of them a few moments later.
“I don’t think they’ll be any mutations there,” the oldest of them said, “from what we were told, this place does not tend to favour any such people.”
“Let’s just hope that they can’t detect hidden mutations. If they have electricity pumping all over the place, they might have the technology to do so,” Sagara said sternly.
“I doubt it,” Yamato said, “not that the city is anything to go by, but I doubt anyone anywhere on the entire planet has the ability to make any sort of advances. Electricity’s rare as it is. We must be the only gang back home that has any left.”
“And we just keep on wasting the stuff,” Kage said, sighing heavily as he thought about Mr. Ishida’s electronic metal shutters, “people don’t seem to like having too much of a good thing for very long. They seem to want to waste it as soon as possible.”
“I doubt it’s that Kage,” Sagara replied, “in the city, people’s life expectancies tend to be very short. People just figure they should do stuff while they can.”
“But we waste stuff Sagara,” Kage said slightly upset, “life in the city isn’t that dangerous, it’s mainly just people protecting their turf. It’s like they use it as an excuse to waste what they have.”
“Possibly,” Sagara said quietly, it went unheard by the two next to him as the wind blew it away, “but maybe this mission will help things, I mean we have to steal their power core or something according to the report Mr. Ishida gave us. Apparently it supplies unlimited energy to the surrounding towns and villages. If we can get hold of it, maybe the collector guy plans to use it to make a more permanent power supply for the city, that’s his style.”
“Or maybe he’ll just keep it to himself, he’s also the type of guy that’ll do that.” Yamato said, stretching to keep himself awake, “hey do you think what we’re doing is right. I mean, the town’s suppose to be peaceful and content and all that. Don’t you think we’ll ruin things if we take away their power supply?”
“I doubt they’re peaceful, if they don’t like people with mutations. I mean, we tend to crop up everywhere, unless they forced all of them out.”
“That’s a point Yamato” Kage said to his friend in the passenger seat, “what are you going to do about your hair. Doesn’t it make you look conspicuous.” Yamato looked up at his hair, a pointless act since he could not see it anyway.
“You’re right, I guess it is kinda purple,” he said before pulling his bag out from beneath his seat. Back in the city, there was a range of mutations. Many people would horribly malformed, having extra limbs or horns. These people suffered the most physical pain, since any demon mutation would constantly sizzle and burn, reacting to the oxygen that covered the planet ever since the creation of water. Other people with mutations did not show any outside signs at all, but they often had strange abilities. In many ways this was just as worse as the physical pains of the other people with mutations, since it often meant isolation from others to prevent anyone finding out about their secrets. Yamato was in the middle of the two groups. Looking almost completely normal, Yamato had no strange special ability to breathe fire or the like, and his physical mutation was nothing more than the hair on his head being a different colour. Even so, in some places, it would be enough to get him beaten out onto the streets.
As he finished rummaging through his bag, he brought out a small piece of nylon cloth before putting the bag back under his seat. Placing the cloth on his lap, he proceeded to fold it a few times.
“A bandana?” Kage asked, slightly amused.
“I thought it would be best,” Yamato explained, “if I just had a hat of some kind, it might get pulled or blown off by something. However, if I pull this tight enough,” he said as he wrapped it around his head and proceeded to tighten it, “then there’s less chance of it coming off” As he finished, he turned around to show it to his friend. “What do you think?” Kage started to bite his lower lip for all he was worth.
“It looks good,” he said before bursting out into laughter a few seconds later. Sagara contributed his own laughter as he looked away and continued driving.
“What?” Yamato asked, “What?”
I am having a dream. At least it seems like a dream. Maybe this is the reality and the person sleeping in the alleyway is just a dream. Maybe they are both dreams and the true reality is somewhere far away, out of my reach. Maybe I sent me here to remain trapped in my dreams because I did not want to be in reality anymore, or maybe reality did not want me. It is hard to tell.
In the dream I am standing on top of a giant building. It is about as tall as the power plant in my main dream. Surrounding me are many other buildings, some are slightly smaller and some are even taller than this one. They are all quite impressive. In the distance I see creatures, thousands of them, all falling out of the sky. Some look like they have wings but even so they are falling. It is too far away. It is hard to tell.
From below there are even more creatures. These look darker than the others in the sky, but that could be just because they are too far away. These creatures are screaming. Even though I cannot hear them, I know they are screaming. I wonder what it could be that would make them scream like that, what pain they must be going through for the thousands of them to echo their agony across the land. But they are too far away. I cannot see them properly. It is hard to tell.
I want to look closer. I walk forward hoping to get a better look, hoping to understand what they are going through. I walk off the edge of the building. The view in front of me leaves my sight to be replaced with that of another building, moving up into the air very fast. On the building there are many windows. I try to look through them, trying to see if I could look out the other side, hoping to get a better view of the creatures in the distance. I see nothing.
As one of the windows pass me, I see a girl. She can’t see me, even though she looks directly at me. She has short black hair. She goes by me too fast for me to see anything else. I wonder where she intends to go in that building. I wonder if she even knows the building is moving, going high up into the sky. To her it may look like I am falling. To her it may look like the world is falling from beneath the building as it continues to go up into the air.
I realise I am still standing off the building and I turn around to get back on it before I fall. The roof has gone and now the building I was standing on is also flying off into the sky. A thought strikes me and I look down. The ground is also flying up into the sky and I can see it coming up towards me. I wonder if I am falling but decide that I cannot be because I feel no wind. It is more likely that the ground is rising up into the sky and is not taking me with it.
I come to meet the ground and it ignores me. It rises on through me and continues going up. I look up and I can still see the buildings. I look down and the buildings are still there, still rising up into the air. I look to the left and see another building, rising into the sky. I look to the right and see a forth building. I begin to question whether or not I am outside or inside a building and I wonder when I had entered it.
As one of the windows past me, I see a boy. He looks at me and the building stops moving. He has light brown hair and two holes where his eye should be. We stare at each other for hours. Then the boy smiles and I start to fall upward. I begin to twist and turn as my body flies up. This time I feel the wind flying through the air, cutting my skin.
I begin to bleed as I see the ground. This time I am coming back to it. I see my blood falling upwards towards the ground. Or is my blood rising into the sky? Or is the ground falling towards my blood? Or is my blood rising up to meet the roof? I am too disorientated. I am beginning to wonder if this is all a dream or if I will die when I hit the ground. Someone once told me they had scientifically proven that if you dream about falling and hit the ground, you will actually die. The boy in the window has disappeared. I wonder when he went. Everything is so confusing. It is too hard to tell.
Either the ground or me hit the other, hard. For a second I see my blood covering the both of us.
I wake up.
I find myself sweating despite being cold. Around me is the dream of the dark alley where I fell asleep earlier. It was how I left it before I went to that other dream. I cannot remember the other dream now. It hardly matters. It takes me a few seconds to realise there is a man in front of me, leaning on the other side of the wall. He does not look at me but he appears scared of something. I notice he is bleeding. I notice he is holding his stomach tightly. I notice his blood is on me. I wonder if that was the blood that was in my dream.
The man is speaking to someone. He is begging for them to stop. To my right is a woman that I have only just noticed. She has short ginger hair and make up. She seems very pretty. She is holding a small knife. It has blood on it. I wonder if it is his blood. She shouts at him to leave her alone. She calls him a freak. He raises his arm up and asks her to stop and she screams, swinging the blade in his direction. He recoils back, the blade missing him quite easily. As he turns towards me, I see the other side of his face. There is a horn, sticking out of his forehead. It’s a dark brown and reminds me of a piece of wood more than anything else, a small vapour trail comes out of it and if I listen carefully, a sizzling noise.
Neither of them has noticed me yet, but I am not surprised. People tend to be too wrapped up in their own business to notice me. Even my parents started to ignore me after a while. They do a lot of important work apparently, although they never told me what it was. I guess it is too late now to want to know. I wonder if they are playing games now in my old room. Playing pool where my bed used to be and darts where my clock once stood.
The woman screams again and she is no longer holding the knife. She has left it in the man’s chest and he starts screaming for God, whoever that is. She calls him a freak again; she seems even more scared than he is. She runs off, leaving just the two of us in the alleyway. We both sit there for a minute, not saying anything. Then, he tries to stand up. I find myself unsure whether or not to tell him not to move and to help treat his wound or whether I should just leave the alley and leave the freak to his death. One of these guys attacked my brother once. It caused him to stop leaving the apartment more and more. That is why my parents turned my room into a games room.
But this freak probably wasn’t the freak that attacked my brother. This freak hasn’t done anything to me except get blood on me. I am wearing dark clothes anyway. It seems wrong to leave him here alone to suffer his fate. Yet would it not be even worse to nurse him back to help and allow him to continue living in this dream? This dream that I find myself constantly wanting to wake up from, but find I cannot.
The horned man doesn’t give me any more time to think it over. He stands up and begins to walk away. Hugging the wall as he disappears into the darker areas of the alley. As his blood starts to drip off my chin, he has already gone, the only sign that he was even here being the woman’s knife that he left on the ground.
I wonder what happened between them, not what caused the woman to try and kill him, but more how they met. Freaks and normal people don’t tend to meet up much in this place. In fact there are very few freaks here at all. That was the first one I had seen in a while that wasn’t on television. Occasionally you find them being chased across the street by brave villagers trying their best to get rid of them. The only way people usually dare try to handle them is in groups, since you never know what they are likely to do next.
It made me wonder if he tried to attack her. It seems the most likely answer. She must have been walking along, intending to get home when he jumps out and tried to do something to her. He probably was the one that originally had the knife, although he could have used his horn to threaten her as well. Something must have happened and she got the knife off of him. Or maybe she carried the knife around with her, in case something like this happened. I realise it is pointless to wonder about stuff like this.
My ears are cold, although my face is slightly warmer than the rest of my body. I wonder if I should go back to sleep. It’ll be morning in this dream soon. Not that time means anything when you have no reason to exist. Further in the alley I hear something fall with a thud and in the distance I can hear something roaring. Other than that, the world appears to have stopped making sounds. I yawn, it is the only movement I have made since waking up and I begin to wonder why a person needs to move at all. I snuggle up into my jacket and begin to fall back asleep.
In the distance, the roaring noise begins to stop, but I am dreaming again by then.
In my dream, I am being chased down an alleyway.
“Everybody out,” Sagara shouted as the jeep finally gave up on them and insisted that they go on without it for the sake of the mission. Despite wanting to get off ever since they got on, Kage and Yamato grumbled and whined as they expressed their dislike for having to move. About a mile in front of them stood the town that they intended to go to. It seemed highly out of place and stood out in the desert landscape where they were. Although, according to Mr. Ishida, it was in fact the desert that was out of place and the green landscape of the small town was the true nature of the surrounding nature.
“We’re walking then?” asked Yamato, holding his bandana on his head as the wind increased in intensity, as if to make up for the fact that they weren’t driving through it anymore.
“Looks like it,” confirmed Sagara, “it’s only about a mile or so away. We should be there before you know it.”
“What about this thing?” Kage asked, looking towards their exhausted vehicle. The jeep seemed almost annoyed at what it had been called for a second, as it made a loud grunting and clanging noise before the ignition gave out.
“It should be fine here for now.” Sagara stated, yawning and stretching as he pulled himself out of the machine, “if anyone finds it, they’ll assume it’s just another wreck.” The jeep unexpectedly made one final splutter of exhaust fumes at this. The others, not willing to risk having the thing explode around them, quickly got out and away from it.
“Where do you think we should head first?” asked Kage as he stared towards the utopia in the distance. It shined and swayed in the haze of the heated desert, implying it to be nothing more than a mirage.
“Well the town in the distance is the obvious place I guess,” Sagara wondered out loud, “that’s where the power plant is too. We should scout around for information, see if we can find anything out about the security of the place, or what the power supply looks like.”
“How do we even know that’s where they store the power source?” queried Yamato as they began the long trudge towards the small town, “I mean, we do know nothing about this power source, all we have is that picture.”
“The picture the old man gave us looks a lot like that thing up there, he also said it looks a lot like the power plants they had back when he was younger. It’s all we have to go on, so hopefully it’ll be enough for now before we can decide what we’re doing.” Sagara looked further in the distance towards the town as they walked quietly to it. The place seemed gigantic compared to the small buildings below it. He thought they should be more careful where they put large curved towers like that. The way it looked implied it might fall down and crush the entire town without any real warning. It was hard to make out, considering the distance, how high it truly was, but he figured it must be taller than the skyscraper the Demon dogz lived in back in the city. He got a strange image in his head for a moment where he discovered that the entire town was in fact really small, enough for Kaze to crush with his feet, but it just looked big because of the distance. He imagined that the town had not always been that small though and in fact it had been shrunk from an evil demon wizard. When they entered the town, they too were shrunk and he met up with the former princess of the town who was a real tomboy but was still quite cute and…. He began to question how long he had been up to think of irrelevant crap like he had just done. He yawned slightly as he turned off his mind and let his legs continue walking.
An hour later, Sagara woke up to find himself on an empty road in the middle of the night. Surrounding the road was set of neat houses with nice sets of nature in front of them growing nicely surrounded by little white fences. The houses themselves were small, but not as small as he had just dreamt about and he was finding himself a little disappointed. It seemed unusual for nighttime, and a little cold as well. Back home, he was used to the parties and riots and gang wars starting around now, guessing it was about eleven o’clock, and the entire city would be noisy for about the next seven hours. Here, it was the total opposite, empty, it was as if everyone had decided they had important things to do the next morning and so promptly went to sleep. He wouldn’t be surprised if Kaze started shouting in a few minutes before the pure silence drove him more insane. He stopped as he realized where his line of thought had taken him.
“Kaze? Where is everybody?” he spun round to check behind him and instantly found gravity taunting him. Around the bottom of his legs he found a tight piece of fabric that he usually referred to as his trousers. He fell to his knees, whom immediately tried to blitzkrieg the concrete below as they slammed into it. Unfortunately, the defences of the concrete were more than they could handle and they sustained minor grazes. As the temporary disorientation disappeared, Sagara looked up to find a small child looking out him, currently laughing as if someone had threatened his family with torture. To his side, Yamato looked on, a mild amusement on his face.
“You fucker Kaze,” Sagara complained as he turned over to look at his knees. A nice pool of blood sat on each knee where skin used to be, he touched it and gasped at the sore feeling he received.
“Sorry man,” said Kaze, taken aback slightly from Sagara’s words, “but it was too tempting, you were just standing there, staring off into space.”
“I was sleeping,” Sagara shouted back at him as he stood up, pulling his trousers back into the upright position.
“You don’t sleep whilst walking, it’s dangerous” replied Yamato, “for us, more than anyone”
“How else am I going to pass the time?” he asked rhetorically as he began to look around. The houses and sets of nature were still there and in the distances the curved power plant was hovering above them. The distance to it still seemed quite far. Behind him still stood Kaze and Yamato, Shariku was also present, although currently looking off down another road, where someone was walking by, looking at them suspiciously.
“So what now?” Yamato asked, waiting for instructions, “we’re in the town, but it seems no ones here.”
“Yeah, not even the tomboy princess.” Sagara said absent mindedly as he tried to get a bearing on where they were. It seemed pointless to start anything now. This town seemed to have the unusual idea of sleeping while it was dark. He then realized that although it was dark, it was incredibly light in some areas. Looking around he noticed that the entire town seemed to be lit up this way. The light was coming out of the tall concrete posts that were scattered along the sides of the road. It lit the place up magnificently; the only light that they had in the city at night were usually a few fires, since no one ever wanted to waste electricity. In fact they rarely used lights like this at all, even though the city was covered in them. Kaze noticed where his friend was looking and joined him at staring at the lights.
“It’s almost beautiful isn’t it?” Kage said. Sagara wouldn’t have gone that far, but it was definitely something to stare at in appreciation. They both looked over the electronic town for a few seconds before Kaze’s brain realized something. “Hold on, what tomboy princess?”
“What?” said Sagara in shock, “it’s nothing, just something I was”
“Hey guys,” Yamato interrupted, Sagara and Kaze turned to face him, breaking from the art scene, “it appears we have ze companie of an English playwright acting out the part of justice.”
“Do stop doing that,” Sagara asked politely as a lion would ask an antelope to enter it’s mouth. In front of them now, a man wearing a black suit and a black curved protective hat walked towards them. In his hand he held a black stick and was swinging it around on a small handle. The man looked threatening and yet harmless at the same time. His tall, bulky demeanour was contrasted by his goofy moustache and friendly smile. As he reached the small gang of boys, Sagara watched as Shariku tensed up and took a slight step back. Before he could step in to intervene, Yamato got there first and place his hand on the boy’s shoulder, replacing any potential fight with smart negotiations.
“And what are you boys doing out so late?” the man asked them, with both suspicion and courtesy in his voice.
“And what’s it to you, punk?” Kaze said mockingly as he began to step forward. Behind him, Sagara applied pressure to the boy’s shoulder and made him calm down in a way that would prevent him talking for at least twenty minutes. Before the man could say anything, Yamato stepped forward.
“Ignore him, he’s weird.” The boy with the bandana said reassuringly. The man looked on confused as Kaze struggled in silent pain at Sagara’s hand grip, “We’re just out late”
“And what are you doing out so late,” the man repeated, but his courtesy seemed to have disappeared, “curfew started four hours ago.” Yamato froze slightly at this but quickly recovered as he realized he was right that this man did appear to be some law enforcing type. He tried to make up a story in his head and decided that the truth might just work.
“Sorry sir, we were just heading into town when our jeep broke down?” he began to explain.
“A jeep?” the man said confused, “what are you talking about, there’s no jeeps anymore. I’m surprised kids like you even know about jeeps.”
“Well, it’s Tommy’s jeep over there” he said, indicating Sagara. “We come from a few hundred miles away from here, about three cities over, but it broke down a mile away from here. So now we’re looking for a place to stay the night, I’m guessing it’s not too safe in that desert.”
“Desert is pretty fine I guess,” the man said, all hostility in his voice gone due to Yamato’s polite attitude, “what you wanna look out for is any of the freaks in a city nearby. They hardly ever go out of their nest, but they’re still pretty dangerous.”
“Freaks?” said Yamato, acting confused, “you mean the demons and mutants?”
“Whatever you want to call them sir” the enforcer said politely before turning around, as if thinking, “there aren’t that many places where you can stay the night here. Most have their own houses around here.”
“What about hotels and motels” Yamato asked.
“Well I suppose Marko and Luigi’s tavern would be your best bet, but they’ll only have one room.” The man started to think this over in his head as the others stared on at the two of them.
“Is it a popular place or something, we may not have enough supplies for something like that.”
“No no, it’s not popular. It’s just they only have one room.” The enforcer seemed unaffected by what he had just said as he continued thinking it over. “I got it, why don’t you come over to the station and you can spend the night in the cells?”
“What?” Yamato said in astonishment at this polite request to be imprisoned, for a second he thought that maybe the polite enforcer had some way of knowing what he was. He took a step back and looked over to Shariku, who still seemed ready to start the intended fight from earlier.
“Ack, I don’t mean it like that,” the man said reassuringly waving his hands in front of him to indicate peace. “What I mean is is that’s probably the best we can do for you at the moment. There’s hardly any crime here and the cells are always practically empty. I’m only Sheriff really out of a formality.”
“Sheriff?” Yamato said, even more concerned than previously.
“Yeah, I’m the one who looks after this place, makes sure that no one gets into any trouble. The cells may sound bad but I can assure you they’ll be the safest place in the entire area, not that anything bad’s going to happen anyway,” the man began to laugh to himself loudly at this, and Yamato figured he should probably run now. Instead, Sagara grabbed his shoulder and made them all huddle up.
“Nice work Yamato, make friends with the insane law enforcer.” Sagara said sarcastically, “What are we going to do then?”
“Well, his offer doesn’t sound so bad, we just have to hope he isn’t secretly evil” Yamato said, “if anything, it’s a perfect excuse to blend in with the locals, we could probably find out plenty of information about the target as well.”
“I dunno, I mean,” Sagara stopped in mid sentence as he went over the situation in his head. It didn’t seem right to accept the help of someone you had plans to steal from later, since it would cause a high chance of them being to be friends and later decide not to complete the mission. However it may also be the best chance they have to start doing something productive about the mission.
“Look man, this guy seems to be the area’s local do-gooder. We can probably trust him to help us to an extent if we follow nicely. Saying that, we can probably also trust to an extent that he’ll see us suspicious if we ask for help and then refuse it when given. It’ll be better to just go along for now. If anything gets out of hand, we always have Shariku.”
Sagara looked at the quiet boy at this. He was currently not in the little huddle and still looking around the town ahead of him, mainly towards the stars that he enjoyed gazing at. The town’s enforcer gazed with him. “We are only using him if we have to,” Sagara sternly stated, “and even then, the only chance we should take is at the end of the mission when we need to escape or something.”
“I know, I know,” Yamato tried to reassure his comrade, “I’m just saying, we’re in no real danger accepting the offer. Hell, I mean, we’re practically the strongest people in this entire area. What do you think Kaze?” he asked to the smaller boy. As he turned to him he saw the lanky boy drooling slightly as a neat wave of pure agony slowly rolled over him from Sagara’s still applied neck grip. “Never mind,” he said, turning back round to the Sheriff of the town, who was now standing right in front of him.
“Have you boys decided yet what you want to do?” the bulky man asked, now no longer looking at the stars, “I don’t see why y’all have to discuss it, I can assure you it’ll be the only place you could spend the night here, ‘less you wanna be sleeping on the sidewalk.”
“Sorry sir, my friend is just a little paranoid.” Yamato apologised expertly, “we’ve been awake for quite a long while now, and I think it’s starting to get to us.”
“Then we better get you to a place where you can rest as soon as possible.” The man said kindly, turning around and walking back down the street “follow me.”
Each of the boys did so, trailing behind the man in an orderly fashion. Shariku would follow a few seconds later, silent as ever.
It was morning, as Sagara liked to call it, although the hundreds of clocks all over town would disagree with him, and the boy walked through the town alone with an air of curiosity about him. All around him, people got on with daily business very different with business back home in the city. Back home, the relatively overweight man carrying the box full of food bought from the local bakery would currently be lying unconscious in his own fluids slowly drowning after being attacked by one of the many street gangs or drifters. Here, the man had smiled at Sagara, wished him a good day, laughed when the boy yawned and handed him a muffin that he didn’t want paying for, before getting back to what he was doing whilst whistling a positive tune. For the expert thief, who wasn’t that used to dealing with people he didn’t know in a polite manner, the situation was completely alien to him. Sagara wasn’t like Yamato when it came down to things like this, he couldn’t just roll with the friendly punch that had just been thrown in his direction and talked to it nicely. After the man had left, he had stood there for another ten minutes staring mostly in shock, before an old woman had come by and commented on how nice it must be to be young and do nothing. He couldn’t reply properly to this one at all, and just muttered something before quickly walking across the street.
It was seriously uncomfortable for the young man. In situations like that previously the old woman would have probably spat acid onto the unconscious muffin man, but here, it was probably that type of thinking that would have seriously shocked the residents of this place was he to tell them of such things. He shook his head to take his mind off the subject, and continuing to scout around for anything of interest. He was amazed at how beautiful this place seemed in the daytime. Everything was clean for a start, there were smells in the air that he had never smelt before, the spongy smell coming from the bakery he had just passed, the blissful fragrance from the small flowers that practically lined the happy roads of bliss that went in every direction and the smell of the smooth, velvet chocolate coming from the muffin he was currently biting into and savouring. It was again a stark contrast to back home. The only real smells there were those of disease and fumes in the air that seemed to exist wherever they went and practically nothing was clean, the closest thing being when some bored youth had rubbed his fingers against the grime of a wall in order to make some bemused doodle.
He found himself going off task again and tried to focus on work. A place was needed to set up camp, as well as some kind of side job in case they needed to stay here for a longer period of time than currently intended. It was in their interests to stay as long as possible, since this not only allowed them to be integrated better into the society around them making them less suspicious, but also because the collector man was to pay them based on how many days they had had wasted taking time out to work for him. The mysterious client expected the work to be complete in about two weeks and so they intended to make it take around three, because of complications as Yamato always so delicately put it. They could have probably pushed it to a month, but that would probably cause a bad business reputation. Finding a place to stay seemed to be a main problem though. They definitely needed a place to keep separate from everyone else so they could come up with ideas when collecting information and the Sheriff’s cells, where it turned out the man also slept during the night, would not be the best of options.
Behind him, a large chime echoed across the square that he was currently strolling through, breaking his line of thought. He looked up, following the sound with his left ear. From what he could tell, the sound came from a structure that he had first saw when he had left the Sheriff’s place of residence that morning. After it’s initial noise, which he noticed had got everyone’s attention for three seconds before they continued with what they were doing, the building fell silent again and went back to being another stereotypical background construction. It occurred to Sagara that the building seemed to have absolutely no reason for being annoying like that and breaking him from recent musings. He decided to head in its direction. He figured it would be a more public building of sorts if it were making a noise like that, since no one could live with something that loud that close, and a public building might hold some information about what he currently required. As he continued to walk, his mind slowly got back into the plan, but it left it just as quick when he found the surrounding enemy landscape too distracting and decided to just wander and admire in the meantime.
Twenty minutes later, he reached his intended destination and was once more amazed at what he saw. He had seen many tall buildings in his life, he lived at the top floor of one many times taller than this one, but even so there was nothing quite so unique as what he saw in front of him right now. Before the thief stood a tall white building, shaped like none he had ever seen before, it was as long as it was tall, but it’s tallness came from it’s large spire which ascended into the sky, signified by a small piece of metal on the top, as if someone had created it to try and reach the very stars themselves. Underneath the pointy tower was a picture, which looked to be made from none other than glass. It was many different colours and seemed to shine brightly in the sun. Unfortunately, Sagara could not figure out what it was suppose to mean. It felt like it was meant to be a grand picture, signifying important events. However, the only thing to be seen was a rainbow of colours assaulting every pore of the irises of his eyes.
Now that he looked in a way proper, in a way that only he could, the building didn’t looked very impressive at all. If it wasn’t for it’s height and the fact that it had made a very effective, distraction, he figured he would have completely missed it from a distance. It just looked different, that’s all. He sighed and turned around, not even caring to look into the structure to see it’s true purpose. As he did so, he noticed the building flicker in the corner of his eye. He turned quickly, out of reflex, and looked at the greyish wall of the building. Now that he focused on it, he could see that the gritty wall of the church was a mixed of white and grey. It wouldn’t be all that special, if not for a moment ago, he could have sworn that the entire portion of the wall he had been near was entirely grey and, like a child trying to trick his friend, began changing colour whenever he looked away only to stop when he looked back.
“Is it the sun?” he asked himself as he examined the wall by touching it slightly. The wall was cold and as hard as anyone would expect it to be. This particular side of the building was in the shade and so it couldn’t be explained by the fury of the sun, nor were there any windows on the building next to it that could reflect any light. Slightly amused at the near trivial event, the boy began to walk along the edge of the building to examine it some more. Every so often he would turn around, and found that an identical wall with different colours had replaced the wall he had just trailed his hand along. He began to speculate what it could all possibly mean and whether or not he should continue looking. Before he could decide what to do though, he felt something pinch at the back pocket of his trousers. Suspecting Kaze, he grasped onto the hand without looking and pulled it in front of him, bringing not a small, lean boy, but a short, blond haired girl. The girl squeaked in surprise as Sagara regarded her in equal disbelief. His shock turned to a small grin as he realized that here was something that he could deal with in a way he knew how.
“Hello,” he said coyly, thrusting his eyes up to meet hers as he pushed her against the wall, “what we got here then. I was beginning to assume there was no crime in this town. Is this a special occasion or do they just hide it really well from visitors?” The girl said nothing at this, looking to the ground instead to keep away from his dominating gaze. Both teenagers stood in that position for a few moments as Sagara waited for the girl to make some sort of excuse or apology. She did nothing, choosing to continue to look away, waiting for the man in front of her to loose interest. Instead, he grinned even more and began to push her further up the wall.
“Oi oi oi, what do you think you’re doing girl?” he asked mockingly, “you think I’ll disappear if you look away long enough or something. I’m not going anywhere until I at least get an apology” In order to further his point, he dropped the girl without warning, grabbing her leg so that she landed with force, causing her to whimper some more. Both waited again for the other to do something, the girl seeming to have no intentions to contribute to the conversation. The fact that the girl hadn’t said a word began to concern the boy standing above her. Could she not speak? Or was she so scared of the situation that she was petrified to say a word, less she condemn herself even more. She was pretty, he thought surprisingly for a second, although judging by the state of her clothes it seems that she had gone into pick pocketing because she needed to, rather than had to. That alone struck him as strange, in a town where a complete stranger could get given food without even asking. Her hair looked ruffled and out of place, judging by the direction it was slanting in, he guessed that she had slept in an alley with the wind to her right, which also implied that she was homeless. Her face wasn’t dirty though, and still actually shone a bit from the make up that she had lightly dabbed on about three days ago, meaning she had either just become homeless, or had some very strange priorities.
“I….i…” the girl stuttered, finally taking a breath to speak. Her voice was ragged and croaked, as if she had not used it for a long time. She muttered something else, but Sagara totally missed it. He sighed loudly to himself, implying more of a groan as he realized that nothing was going to be gained from what he was doing. The boy lifted his foot from the wall against the side of her face. He then offered her a hand and waited for her to take it, grabbing hers when she finally brought it within reach and hoisting the girl up to her legs.
“Come on, get out of here,” he said unemotionally looking away as he began to regret his previous actions. He barely heard her as she stood up and looked at him for a few seconds, before running down the back alley of the church and out of sight. He was amazed at how quiet she had been, it was almost like she wasn’t even there. He was beginning to wish she hadn’t been as he reflected on his own actions from less than a few seconds ago. The girl was clearly not expecting to be caught, and yet also clearly someone that had never pick pocketed before, or at least never been caught, but wouldn’t that mean she would have an air of confidence. The more experienced girls back home would often attack someone if they caught them with their hand in the person’s pocket.
“Never mind,” he said, sighing once more to himself, “no harm, no reason to kill, and I would be a hypocrite if I got too angry about it.” He stretched slightly, in order to help him move on, and began to get back to what he was doing. He left the alleyway in the opposite direction from the girl, intending to find a place to stay. As he walked away, the wall slowly blended in with itself, becoming a pure white.
I begin to puff and pant as I run from the man I met in the alleyway. Why he let me go did not concern me, but more why he made me stay for such a long time. It felt like an endless eternity as he stared at me whilst I averted my gaze and I began to realize that no one had looked at me like that for a long time. Why did he even look at me? How did he even notice me? I had barely touched him when he had already seen me, I shouldn’t have tried to steal from someone who was all alone in an alleyway. It should be commonsense for most people, but I thought it would not have mattered to me, since most tend not to notice me anyway. But that boy did see me, and the way he looked at me. I had never seen such fierce and gentle eyes before. I stop as I realize that made no sense, even though that was the only way to best describe his eyes.
I am still panting from my exhaustive run, and I realize that I am in an alleyway on the edges of town before the northern desert. As I gaze across the lone and level sands, I am reminded of my dream. My parents, if they can be truly called that anymore, once told me that beyond the desert lies a great city, with large buildings, called towers and skyscrapers. I had never seen this city, but I have not left this town since I was a child, and it cannot be seen even from the tallest building or closest viewpoint. Even so, I imagine that this city is where I had my dream, since I remember seeing the desert there too.
“Oi oi oi what do you think you are doing girl?” His words come back to me. They seem significant somehow, even though I know it is a common question. I am not sure, but I think it is the only time anyone has ever asked it to me. I think hard and speculate whether or not it was the first time anyone had ever asked me a question or not. Surely someone must have done at least once. I know I do not talk to people much, and people do not talk to me at all, but it must have happened once. I sniff slightly, as I become overcome with worry about this question I am asking myself, of which I cannot truly provide an answer. Someone must have asked me, but I cannot recall a single time, ever.
“What do I think I am doing?” I ask myself aloud, amazed at how easy it is for me to speak when I know no one is listening. I was trying to take some money out of his pocket. I did not know if any was there. Money is still rare in the twelve towns, but practically everyone accepts it now. I was hungry, and it would have been easier to get something to eat if I did have money. I didn’t have any at first, but I got some earlier off another man, who was too busy with a large box that he had got from the bakery and when I saw him talking with this boy, I thought perhaps the boy also carried money with him.
I could not help but think of the boy again. He was tall and had brown hair with fierce and gentle eyes. I could not remember their colour however. I had the impression that I had met him before, or at least passed by him and stopped to stare. Maybe we had passed each other in town before, since anyone rarely visits. He didn’t look like he was from the town though. He was muscular, and yet still somewhat thin. Most in town are either slightly overweight, really thin or incredibly bulky, depending on what type of work they do. So, I don’t think he was from the town, since I would have probably remembered or heard of someone like him, not that anyone would tell me.
A noise emanates from my stomach and I feel the pains of having not eating recently. I reach into my pockets at the few round pieces of grey metal I am holding. I overheard my mother once telling my brother and I that the pieces of metal used to be called coins and had distinctive markings on them, but that had changed since this new type of coin was made and to me they had always been smooth and flat. I am also holding a key, but I am ignoring it for the time being. The coins I am holding now, would not be enough to get me any food from any of the nearby shops, nothing of a suitable standard and I should not be wasting it on snacks.
I stand back up, not realizing that I had sat down earlier and take one last look back at the desert before heading back into the town again. It might be possible to get something with the money I do have. Even if I can’t, I might get away with giving them the money I have even when it is not enough. I hope so, since I am now more hungry than I have ever been in my entire life.
As I reach the main street where all the shops stand, I glance nervously as I hope I do not see the boy I met earlier again. Although I find I wouldn’t mind meeting him again, and having him ask me questions. Maybe next time, I will actually say something.
“Yo, I’m back.” Sagara shouted as he entered the door of the sheriff’s jail block. He was greeted by a sound that implied the building was empty and figured that Yamato and Kaze had gone out. As he walked through the building and looked around, he waved a hand to Shariku, who responded with a glance. The dark haired boy was currently looking at a painting that was on the wall. It depicted a four-legged creature with white fur and a glossy mane. It had a large body with a strange head and it looked like he could probably ride on it like he would his jeep. On top of it’s strange head, which dipped down from it’s neck making it appear a bit dumb looking, was a spike or horn of some sort, which seemed to curl around itself. The creature would have appeared beautiful to the eyes of an observer, majestic even, were it not currently painted in a perspective so that it was falling to it’s eminent doom. The creature appeared to have no way to fly and its position implied that it was flailing its legs helplessly in hope that it soon would have. Despite this, it was quite a nice painting.
He left his ally to continuing staring at the artwork. He had probably been at it for some time now and would probably only stop to die or be mortally wounded in some way. Sagara turned the corner to find the ‘sheriff’ of the town sleeping on his chair. His legs were on a table and he was slowly rocking back and forth in time to his own snoring. It seemed the entire building had nothing to do that day. As the boy accidentally stamped his foot on the floor several times, the older man tipped fully back on his rocking chair, banging his head on the wall and waking up. He looked round with a start to check if there were any enemies of the town lurking round and calmed down when he saw Sagara looking over him.
“Ooh sorry lad, must have dozed off there for a while,” the enforcer apologised as he stood up to greet his new tenet, “did ya have any look at finding your way round town?” Sagara observed the man for a few seconds, confused at something for a moment.
“It’s quite a nice area,” the boy replied, “and the people here are polite and generous,” he pulled out a folded, circular piece of paper with dark stains on it, “look, I got given a muffin,” he said in a squeaky voice.
“Ah, I sees you’ve met Mr. Edison. He makes far too many muffins each day. He ends up going around town and giving them to people.” The Sheriff ended his sentence with a laugh, whilst indicating a bin for the boy to throw the litter away in. Sagara looked at it confused for a moment, before understanding what the man meant.
“I guess you can afford to waste stuff,” the boy commented as he deposited his waste, “especially when you have electricity pumping everywhere.”
“Ah, that’s sort of true,” the man responded, as he found his hat on the floor and put it on, “but we try to keep it all clean still, we reuse what we can and donate what we no longer need so nothing really goes to waste.”
“I take it you don’t have electricity where you’re from then?”
“How could you tell?” the boy asked rhetorically. The older man missed this and answered anyway.
“From your tone, you sound a little jealous.” The Sheriff pointed out, although he didn’t need to, “I can’t say I blame you though. We have a pretty good life compared to others around us. Plenty of power, plenty of food, no freaks or demons to bother us. We can live our lives in peace and prosperity. It’s quite the perfect area.” He began to laugh at this, as he was prone to do at a moment’s notice. Sagara grinned with him as the man’s last words stuck in his head.
“Perfect, yes,” he muttered quietly under his breath, “it’s almost too perfect.”
“’ey boy, I just had me a thought.” The Sheriff said, still laughing, as he put his heavy arm round the boy’s shoulder, “why don’t you and your friends stay in town for a while. I likes you all, so I’m sure everyone else would.”
“Stay here?” Sagara repeated, not expecting the offer.
“You said you were only passing through last night,” the older man continued, “but I’m sure after what you’ve seen today. You’re probably quite tempted to stay and enjoy it.”
“Well, I’m not sure we should,” Sagara began.
“Now don’t give me that boy, there’s no need to be too polite.” The man interrupted, “You probably would have stayed quiet and never asked if you weren’t given the invitation. You would have probably felt you was imposing on us all or something.”
“Well nothing, my friend.” He said, changing his accent to that of a fine gentlemen, “You may stay here as long as you like. Though, four boys like you are probably gonna wanna find your own place. There’s bound to be a few places going cheap if you have something good to trade. And then once you have a place to stay, you can just sit back and enjoy your time.” The accent had changed back seconds later, as if they was someone inside him pressing buttons.
“Well…” Sagara said again, hating the fact that he couldn’t get a word in edgeways.
“Well it sounds good to me,” said Yamato as he appeared from around the corner, “this town had to be the most beauti…. no, most wondrous town I have ever witnessed. It would be an honour for us to stay here sir.” Behind him, Kaze appeared to smile and look happy about the offer as well, although he could smile and look happy about the deaths of thousands of innocent, cute monkeys. So it wasn’t much to go by.
“Well, your friends agree, what say you boy,” Sagara shot a glance at his allies as they grinned back at him. It still didn’t feel right; they were being deceptively nice to someone who later their actions would completely turn upside down, part of their plan was to completely ruin this lifestyle. It seemed okay when he didn’t know the people he was stealing from. To smile and manipulate them in this way was just fundamentally wrong. But in this situation, did they have a choice?
“I’m in,” he sighed, to be responded with a fake cheer from the three surrounding him, “but we’re not going to annoy anyone you guys. We’re gonna get our own places and get our own jobs.”
“Oh, but of course,” Kaze said, sarcastically bowing to Sagara’s command as the two continued to laugh.
“Well, if you’re looking for jobs,” the local sheriff said, “the ol’ power plant is always looking for people. You don’t have to be skilled or anything to apply for work there. You just sign up, and anyway you go.”
“I couldn’t have thought of anything better myself,” Yamato said, “I’d love to know how that place works, wouldn’t you mate?” Even Sagara had to grin at this particular turn of fate.
“Well, it’s settled,” the Sheriff said loudly, “let’s go down there right now and get the five of you, I mean, four of you” the bulky man stopped in mid sentence and looked around, he could have sworn he just seen another much taller boy, standing there behind the smaller one like a guardian, but then his attention was then taken by the boy still staring at the picture, rather oblivious to the entire conversation, “What about him?” the sheriff asked, knowing now there was no point to trying to engage Shariku in conversation.
“He’ll be fine,” Yamato reassured “won’t you Jimmy?” the dark haired boy didn’t move to this at all, he still seemed engrossed in the painting.
“Are you sure?” the Sheriff asked uncertainly as he looked at the dark haired boy. He wasn’t sure what was up with the boy, but his gut told him he seemed suspicious. All of this time, it felt like he had been a stalker to the others, following them until a point where they became so used to him, that he could strike in a flash and they would be none the wiser, and yet, they were clearly aware of him, almost like they were observing him at all times.
“No worries,” Yamato said calmly, “he’s quiet, but he rarely means any harm. He’s a good friend.” Shariku shuffled slightly at this comment.
“Well if you’re sure,” the man said.
The job application process was a lot easier than we expected it to be. The way we were treated so nicely it was as if we had been accepted for the job before the jeep had even broken down. Despite this, there were a few minor problems. The major one being when the slim, bald man at the desk handed us pens and asked them to fill in our details on these sheets of paper. I could read and write just fine and Yamato could to an extent, but the markings on the paper in front of us made little sense, being clearly a different writing system than the one Mr. Ishida had taught us. The sheriff, who had accompanied us, just laughed as he took the papers off us and began to draw upon them a combination of different circles and lines. According to him, these were our names.
Of course, they weren’t actually our names. For the sake of caution we had given each other new names to call each other while in this new area. This wouldn’t have normally mattered to me, but our names were relatively unique to the city, everyone living there had been named from words from some strange dead tongue, even people who had different names at birth had theirs changed. It was the mark of the city, and if anyone in the town had recognised this connection, it would undoubtedly cause trouble for both the overall plan and ourselves.
Another trouble has happened for Kage, but we are stuck with it for the time being since we are now all unable to mention it in the slightest. It had been originally planned for Kage to be on the outside during the day-to-day activities, since he was more trustworthy than his younger brother and less likely to call us by our proper names. Kaze’s mouth runs far faster than my jeep ever will and he could just as easily state we were all thieves, as he would do that little bounce of his. However, bad timing with the sheriff meeting us last night meant that Kaze now has to be the one to stay out at all times. It has not heavily affected our plan but it has placed us all at great risk. The worse part is that Kaze seems to know this, his grin has been etched higher than usual and he has already slurred our names more than once. Yamato doesn’t seem concerned, but I see Kage, standing over his little brother, fuming in frustration.
“That’s your form done Tommy,” the sheriff said, handing me the final piece of the three sheets that would allow me to work at the plant. He was a kind man really, although the rest of the town would probably say average. But, during all this time, I couldn’t help but get the feeling that the reason he was staying so close to us was to watch us, to make sure we weren’t suspicious in some ways. I should probably stop thinking about it as my paranoia could cause him to start being paranoid. I laughed to myself slightly at this. In these situations, even the most pathetic joke could spark me.
“Thank you sir,” I said, taking the sheet of paper off him. Glancing at it, it made less sense when it did earlier. The only difference now is that it has blue ink all over it. It was truly difficult to tell if it was his handwriting, or that he did not know the language either, and just didn’t want to admit it. “Ah, come to think of it sir, you haven’t told me your name yet.”
He took a few moments to look at me, as if I had just asked him when do the bears drop from the ceiling. From his eyes, I could tell the question had truly baffled him. “John,” he replied slowly, as if confirming it himself, “but it’s best to just call me sheriff, everyone else does.”
“Very well,” said Yamato, or Billy during this period of time, jumping in, “sheriff. When do we start?”
“Or rather, what do we actually do, besides earn supplies?” Kaze asked. For the sake of the time being, he was being referred to as Paul, mainly because Mr. Ishida couldn’t think of another name ending in ‘y’.
“Oh, you won’t be earning supplies,” the sheriff said, rising up from his chair to tower above them, “you’ll be earning…cash.”
“What?” it didn’t matter who said this line, it was what everyone was thinking.
“What’s cash?” asked Kaze, eliminating him from the above sentence.
“I figured you wouldn’t have heard of it.” The sheriff said, fishing into his pocket to retrieve something. If it was cash, whatever it was, it seemed it was going to be small “it’s pretty new around here as well, but it’s what we use for basic trade. Here it is, the latest thing….cash”
On the top of the man’s hand, which was dirty as it is, seemed to be a small crumpled up piece of green paper. It was torn at various edges and looked like it couldn’t achieve anything, let alone be used for basic trade. The three boys stared in confusion, the looks on their faces giving the impression that the man had just pulled out a dead gerbil. Yamato shuddered as he came to realise what it was.
“Money,” he said blankly, as his eyes tried to turn themselves around and force themselves into his brain, mainly to end his suffering, “they’re going to give us money.”
“What?” the sheriff said, confused “you have heard of it then?”
“Er, it’s kind of new in our town as well, we never heard of it being called cash though.” Sagara explained, “does…everyone in town use this.”
“Yeah, pretty much, people still use basic trade and bartering. But this is slowly coming through. People seem to prefer it for some reason.”
“How could anyone prefer bits of green paper with numbers on them to food and drink,” Yamato asked glumly, as he felt the source of supplies disappear from his grasp, due to thousands and thousands of green, paper cuts.
“It’ll be fine,” Sagara said, “just as long as we get paid enough to eat and rent somewhere.”
“Ah, that will not be a problem,” the thin, bald man interrupted from where he had been quite on his chair. “The plant will provide you with rooms. Luckily, since you’re a group of four it will work out fine. We will assign you two, two bed rooms. I assume that’ll be satisfactory.”
“Huh? But there’s five of us,” Kaze began to say, before his foot reported it was under attack from a strange flat object, made of plastic, and probably coming from Yamato’s foot. The sheriff flinched at this comment. There was something he couldn’t put his mind on, “four then, sheesh. I wanted an extra room.”
The bald creature on the chair opened the drawer to the side of him and fished out two pieces of metal with plastic connected to them. Placing them on the table, he slid them over to the boys. Sagara caught both as he began to explain.
“Those are your keys, hopefully you have heard of them before. They will let you open your doors,”
“We know that,” interrupted Sagara, feeling as he was speaking to a child, instead of being treated like one.
“Very well, do not lose them under any condition. They are very, very old. Even before the disasters and we do not have spares. We haven’t even found the technology to make keys in the first place yet.”
“No,” said Sagara, admiring the key slightly, yet feeling it was like a dark herald of some kind. “we don’t have them at all when we come from.”
“Really sir,” the man said in confusion, “may I ask how you keep things your own then?” Sagara observed the man as he pondered the questions for a moment, then just smiled.
“I guess you could say we’re not that petty. Everything was free in our town, and everyone respected that.” It was true to an extent, which allowed Sagara to smile truthfully. There may have been basic trade in the city, but everything belonged to everybody and most were willing to help others out in some way, unless they were fighting each other. Then they traded blows instead, which worked out equally as well, although not to the person on the receiving end.
“I would not say it is petty to have your own space sir,” the bald man claimed, “it is merely a wish to have a place to call your own.”
“To you, that may sound reasonable, but to me it is downright greedy.” Sagara replied, still grinning slightly. “Now then, point us in the direction of our rooms if you would.” As they began to walk off down the corridor, Sagara cursed himself. Not only had he changed perspectives without meaning to, but he had also gotten use to betraying his own feelings. H was joining in and joking with these people. Why did it seem so easy?