Saturday, June 2, 2012

Prologue (f)


Meito: "Done. Don't worry about it, it doesn't seem like it will be difficult to repair."

Junko: "Repair is not enough... I want to make it better..."

Meito: "All right! We'll make it better! It'll be the most awesome bicycle ever made!"

She finally tilts her head in my direction. Is she looking at me, or through me? I don't quite understand, but at least I managed to get some kind of reaction.
She nods after a while.

Junko: "I'll be going... Later, Oda-senpai."

Meito: "Later!"

So we said, but we both need to go to the main building now. Why is it always so awkward when I'm around Junko? I follow her from a certain distance until we reach our respective lockers and we part ways.
Sometimes I wish I could do something for her, I wish I could break the shell that separates her from the rest of the world.
But in the end I don't think I'm really cut for helping others with their problems and their lives. I would probably just worsen the situation, so I just deal with her strange behavior without questioning. The other club members are the same.
Come to think of it, it wasn't hard to imagine she didn't make any friends among her classmates. She probably talks to them a lot less than she does with the club members and none of us really understand her.
In the beginning I thought it was because she's the only female member of our circle, but considering her interests and her personality, she's probably even worse at dealing with other girls.
I slide open the door of my classroom and I find everyone already sitting in front of their desks. I think I barely made it on time. I hear footsteps coming from the corridor, it must be Nagaoka, that teacher is always precise like a clock.
I quickly move to my seat before it's too late. Hitomi, who's just on my left, grins at me.

Hitomi: "Just in time, useless man."

Meito: "Shut up, it's not my fault. I had to deal with Teramoto and her groupies."

It's just my luck that I ended up next to her. Sumomo on the other hand is quite far and I can barely see her beyond the bulky frame of the local fat-ass.
Oh well, I guess I should be content that we are classmates, and besides I doubt I could concentrate if I had her in my field of vision all the time. Not that I can focus on the lessons anyway though...
The real problem in the end is Hitomi, who seems to enjoy distracting me at every single occasion. And of course Nagaoka never scolds her, just me.

Hitomi: "Liar! I've seen you going inside the lab with Andou-chan, you two all by yourselves."

Damn! I forgot you can see the lab quite well from the window of this classroom.

Hitomi: "Did you kiss her?"

Meito: "What's with that all of a sudden?!"

Hitomi: "He's here."

I swear she calculated the timing with absolute precision! I turn to the door just in time to see Nagaoka sending a disapproving stare right to me.
One of these days, Hitomi... one of these days...

"Stand up!"
"Be seated!"

I automatically follow the instructions of our class rep. while trying to subdue my anger. I just hope Hitomi isn't giving any wrong idea to Sumomo. The last thing I want is for her to think that I love someone else.
Wait... why am I worried about that? It's not like it would change a damn thing since I already gave up on Sumomo...
It's a complicated feeling...
Did I really lose any hope after all? Deep inside I still wish for things to change and for a chance to make my move. Although rationally I should just be a good friend to Sumomo and nothing else.
In that case, why would it be wrong if I dated another girl? It's not like I promised her anything.
But inside my heart that just feels wrong, it would be the same as betraying her, even if logically I shouldn't feel that way at all!
In the meantime Nagaoka is taking attendance. I can't say we like each others at all, which is very bad, because from the start of this year he's my homeroom teacher.
You might have already realized it at this point, but I'm considered a problem child in this school. I wonder why, I think I'm quite a good guy.
Just because my grades are bad, it doesn't mean that I'm a delinquent.
Just because I often skip school, it doesn't mean that I'm a delinquent.
Just because I yelled at a teacher in an occasion or two, it doesn't mean that I'm a delinquent.
Just because I got caught exchanging fists with that idiot Baba, it doesn't mean that I'm a delinquent.
I seriously don't understand. Teachers are really strange people...
I absentmindedly get through the boring lessons without actually listening to anything of what they say. I sometimes wonder if I'm really the odd one for not being able to keep my mind focused on someone who talks for more than five minutes straight.
If we are just supposed to listen passively, wouldn't it be easier to just read a book? It could save a lot of time and trouble. Except I'm bad with books too...
In the end I'm just not cut for studies at all. Lucky I only need to endure one more year and I'll be as free as a bird!
I wonder what will happen then. Will Hitomi keep clinging on me? I plan to move to my own place, so I guess that we will go on our separate way. That means I will sever every tie with Sumomo as well.
It's a very sad thought, but in the end it's better that way. I'm just hurting myself by staying so close to her and yet remaining so far.
One more year. One more year and everything will change, but until then I'll just put on hold all my problems and enjoy the good side of my high school life. One more year of Sumomo.
Class after class, time relentlessly creeps away, and before I realize it, it's already lunch break. Hitomi, naturally, kept bothering me the whole time. "Lend me this", "lend me that", "what did the teacher just said?"
As if I knew! I wasn't even listening!

Hitomi: "Stupid useless man..."

Meito: "Still pouting from back then? Why can't you just take care after yourself like everyone else?"

Hitomi: "But I was doing it for you! I know how you space out so I wanted to keep you focused."

Meito: "As if there was a chance I could buy that!"

Hitomi: "Meh... your distrust in me really hurts, you know?"

Meito: "Who do you think I am? I know you way too well to fall for your cheap tricks..."

Sumomo gingerly stands up from her seat and joins us.

Sumomo: "What are you guys talking about?"

Meito: "Nothing."

Hitomi: "This useless man is useless. We need to do something quickly!"

Sumomo: "Then, let's eat lunch together!"

Hitomi: "Approved!"

I'll never cease to be amazed at how quickly you can make Hitomi drop a topic for another.

Meito: "Then, I will gladly join you."

Hitomi: "Nobody invited you!"

Meito: "What?! Didn't Sumomo invite me as well?"

Hitomi: "You got it all wrong! She was talking to me, and just me!"

Meito: "That's a lie! Sumomo, say something!"

Hitomi: "If you put it that way, she'll tell you to join us out of pity."

Meito: "What? But... but..."

Sumomo: "A-hem... please... calm down..."

Friday, June 1, 2012

Prologue (e)


I wave my hand at Sumomo and Hitomi as they slowly disappear inside the building. The flock of curious students lost interest in me and Junko and disperses.

Meito: "Well Andou, what's the problem with the modifications we made?"

I think I mentioned it earlier, but I'm partly responsible for tinkering on my underclassman's bicycle. We decided to work on it yesterday during our club activities.
I prefer mechanics over electronics so I decided to help Junko with her project. But we didn't even touch the brakes, so now I'm kinda curious to know what went wrong.

Junko: "Here... look..."

We both crouch near her bicycle and examine the Shimada cassette on the rear well. It was supposed to have become lighter and more compatible with the derailleur. The idea was to make changing gears smoother and faster.

Junko: "The chain broke..."

Meito: "Why did it have so much tension?"

Junko: "Modification... I messed up..."

Somehow the broken chain got stuck in the rear brakes and prevented them from working. If I wasn't seeing it with my own eyes, I wouldn't even think it possible.
In the first place a chain shouldn't break so easily, but this one is pretty old. It seems that Junko assembled her bicycle from spare parts that she salvaged from various places.
I'm so focused on the mechanical problem at hand that my senses fail to perceive the incoming of an unsavory character until it's too late.
It's Maaya Teramoto and her groupies, fantastic! I thought I finally got rid myself of her since I've been switched to section A, but it appears I've been too optimistic.
Her aquiline vision, powered by her stylish glasses, infallibly spots me and locks on me.
I try my best to pretend I didn't perceive her evil aura, I keep my eyes focused on Junko's bicycle. I hope that by ignoring her, she will ignore me as well. Naturally, that's just wishful thinking...

Maaya: "Good morning, Oda-san."

Meito: "... Good morning..."

I don't make any effort to hide my displeasure.
What does she want from me? Why me? She didn't even look at Junko, and she is crouched right next to me. I wish I was the one who gets ignored by her for a change.
No such luck though. And I mean... literally.
Wherever Maaya Teramoto goes, luck gets sucked away and only misfortune and despair remains.

Maaya: "I sense a very dark cloud looming over you, Oda-san. It's particularly ominous today."

Here... she goes... again...
I wonder why the kind of hers gets called "fortune teller". "Misfortune teller" seems a lot more appropriate to me. I've never once heard her foreseeing something positive in my future. There's always some kind of disgrace awaiting me.
The sad part is that she's often right. But no matter what she or her groupies say, I don't believe in that occult stuff. It's not like I make a point on denying it, I just prefer to stay out of it.
I said that I don't believe in occultism, but that doesn't mean I'm completely sure that it's all a lie. You can consider me an agnostic.
The bottom line is that I live by the philosophy of "don't wake the sleeping dogs". Whether it is to get their favors or to avoid their wrath, I just prefer not to meddle with supernatural forces. It can't bring anything good.
Naturally Teramoto doesn't share that view. In that regard she's a walking bomb. If spirits and gods really exist, one day she's bound to cause Armageddon.
She is the heir of an important family of Shintoist priests with a history dating back to the Heian period. Or so they claim. But she's not exactly what you would expect from a dedicated miko. She is quite... unorthodox in her approach to the spiritual world.
If you want my opinion, she shows a lot more knowledge about third-rate occult garbage than the philosophical tenants of her religion. She uses her heritage as a way to legitimate practices and rituals that have absolutely nothing to do with Shintoism at all.
How can the crowd of girls that constantly surrounds her not question all that is truly beyond me. But it seems that the girls of my age have a particular weakness for astrology, divination and fortune telling.
As a result it is not an exaggeration to say that Maaya Teramoto is the most powerful person in this school. No one in its right mind would openly go against her, she has far too many followers.
Most of them are girls, or more precisely: practically all of them are females with a very few exceptions. But that doesn't make them any less dangerous.
Which is why I keep wondering why does she keep pestering me. Maybe she thinks I'm too defiant? If that was the case, Junko is even more defiant than I am, as far as I know. She's one of the few girls in this school that can't be bothered by occultism at all.
By the way, Teramoto is also the president of the occultism club. How could the teachers approve something like that is beyond me.

Meito: "What will it be this time, Teramoto? Will I get bad grades? Will I get scolded by Nagaoka? Will I get involved in a scuffle with Baba of 3-D again?"

Maaya: "Far worse! The kind of misfortune I sense is unprecedented! I think your very life is in danger!"

Teramoto's tone doesn't really seem to seriously imply what she says, but the girls around her open their eyes wide as if I've just been sentenced to death. What a ridiculous charade.

Meito: "Hey, hey... don't kill me off so easily now! That isn't fun not even as a joke..."

Maaya: "It doesn't necessarily mean that you will abandon your mortal spoils. No, I don't think it will come to that. But your life as you always lived it will come to an end! And it won't change for the better!"

Nice, so typical of Teramoto. She never makes clear-cut predictions, it would be a problem if  they didn't come true. She makes them vague, and then she elaborates all sort of metaphorical interpretations so that in the end she will always find a way to demonstrate that she was right.
Knowing her, should I change haircut starting from tomorrow, she would say: "See? Your life has changed and not for the best!"

Maaya: "It may not happen today, but today is the turning point! You must act now or all will be lost!"

How clever!

Meito: "So let me guess: you just happen to have with you the perfect charm that will protect me from this impending doom."

Maaya: "Oh my! I didn't know you were gifted with the talent! You might become a seer if properly trained."

Meito: "Please... stop messing with me..."

Maaya: "Here, 2000 yen and it's yours."

Meito: "That's too much!"

Maaya: "What are you talking about?! This is a precious and very powerful charm. Is your life not even worth 2000 yen?"

No matter how you look at it, that's just one of the cheap 300 yen charms that are sold at her temple.

Meito: "I... don't have the money with me..."

Maaya: "No problem, you can pay me later."

Meito: "Well... thanks... but no thanks..."

She would probably ask me to pay the interests.

Maaya: "Is that so... That's very unfortunate. I feel sorry for you, Oda-san."

Meito: "Hey, nothing happened yet..."

Maaya: "But it will! It'll definitely happen. It's a certainty, so it's perfectly logical for me to feel sorry for you right now."

The groupies nod in perfect unison.

Meito: "I'll worry about that when it happens..."

Maaya: "It'll be too late then. Oh well, I did my part. I can't save those unwilling to be saved."

If you are that willing to save me, then just give me the charm for free!
Teramoto sends a quick glance at Junko who all this time did nothing but stare blankly at some point in the distance. For a moment I fear about the consequences of an argument between these two incompatible individuals, but nothing happens.
Teramoto and her groupies walk away, and I can finally sigh in relief.

Junko: "You should be careful..."

Meito: "Don't tell me you really believe in Teramoto's predictions. I thought you were one of the few girls immune to her madness."

Junko shakes her head.

Junko: "Don't make her your enemy."

Meito: "Oh, you mean that. Don't worry, we've been classmates the whole past school year and I survived. I don't think she hates me or anything."

Junko: "That's a good thing..."

I know well what she means, but she's being a bit too serious about it. It's unsettling.
I decide to change the subject.

Meito: "At any rate lessons will start soon, so we don't really have time to fix your bicycle. We can do that after school, during club time."

Junko nods.

Meito: "Let's just take it to the lab for now."

The "lab" is how we call our club headquarter. It's in a building on the back of the school. I think it was originally meant to be a storage room of some sort, now it's basically a workshop. There are all sorts of instruments, tools and spare parts in there.
It's the ideal place for our activities and we don't need to worry about causing too much noise for the other clubs.
I carry my underclassman's bicycle on my shoulder and start walking around the perimeter of the school's main building. She decides to follow me.

Meito: "I can do this by myself, there's no need for you to follow me."

Junko shrugs.

Junko: "Nothing better to do... there's still time."

I wonder if that's her way to be cute.
As she walks beside me, she keeps looking forward without ever moving her eyes in my direction.
The silence is a bit awkward, so I try to strike a conversation.

Meito: "So... how do you like being in the second year?"

Junko: "Not a big deal, really..."

Meito: "Are your friends from the past year still in your classroom? It sucks when..."

Junko: "There's never been any particular person that I care about."

I feel a Siberian wind blowing all of a sudden.
I don't know if I should be more shocked at what she just said or at the fact this is probably the longest sentence that I ever heard coming from her.
I mean, except for when she talks about her projects. She can be pretty talkative then. As talkative as a robot reading a textbook can be.

Meito: "Is that... so? I see..."

Awkward silence. Awkward silence. Awkward silence.
We finally reach the lab, it's quite a chaotic view. There is a distinctive smell of synthetic oil, paint, and burnt metals.
I place Junko's bicycle in one of the few corners that isn't already occupied by appliances, shelfs, tables, stack of spare parts and tools.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Prologue (d)


The school gates are finally on sight, the Mitsugi institute is in front of me in all of its splendor. I'm exaggerating, of course. This isn't exactly the best high school out there, but with my grades and my family's economic situation, that's the only place where I could get admitted to.

*ding* *ding* *ding*

The distinctive sound of a bicycle's bell reaches my ears. That makes me think that I'd like to commute to school with a bicycle myself. It would be nice, but I suppose it would be a problem considering I need to carry two schoolbags.

*ding* *ding* *ding* *ding* *ding*

And yet, if it was one of those bicycles with a front basket, I suppose it could work. The main problem is the money, my allowance isn't nearly enough.
I could maybe try to get a part time job, but between school and the club I don't really have the time.

*ding* *ding* *ding* *ding* *ding*

Come to think of it, one of my underclassmen in the club owns a bicycle and we worked on it just yesterday. And if I remember correctly it has a bell that sounds exactly like...
Wait... did I just hear people screaming in panic?
I turn around just in time to see the source of the commotion incoming at full speed towards me!

Bicycle girl: "Make way... make way... danger..."

Too late! I can't avoid this, it's going to hit me!
The crash is violent and I end supine on the ground, completely knocked out.
Ouch! I'm hurt all over... and I think I'm feeling some kind of pressure over my body. Something warm... and soft...
Wait... don't tell me that...
When I open my eyes I see my underclassman lying with all of her body over mine. This is a pretty awkward position, but not one I can honestly say I don't find pleasurable at all. Forgive me, Sumomo!

Meito: "Hey, Andou... what the hell are you doing?!"

In the meantime a flock of curious students is gathering around us.
I just hope this won't turn out as the hottest gossip of the year.

Sumomo: "Meito-kun! Andou-san! Are you all right?"

Sumomo is worried about me... she is truly an angel!
My underclassman pushes herself up and looks at me with an emotionless expression.

Junko: "Oda-senpai... good morning..."

Meito: "Don't greet me so casually after crashing on me with a bicycle and while still lying on my body in such an equivocal position!"

The girl that is currently sitting on my stomach is Junko Andou, 16 years. She is an underclassman of mine that I happen to know since we are members of the same club.
The club we are both part of is the so-called "do it yourself club". We manly specialize in repairing domestic appliances and the sort. We have become quite popular and we never get short of samples to practice our skills on. If your rice cooker isn't working anymore, we are your men.
Junko Andou is probably the most brilliant member of our team. She has a natural talent for understanding mechanics and electronics. She could disassemble and reassemble your watch in a few minutes while improving its performance in the process.
She is pretty much a maniac and a perfectionist. If you leave any kind of device in her hands for a few seconds, you can rest assured that she will start tinkering on it trying to improve it.
She is an oddball enough to walk around wearing a tool belt, even during lessons. There's just no way to separate her from that, and I have no doubts she would have a panic attack if you forced her.
The problem is that not always her improvements work the way she wants... and sometimes stuff just breaks apart whereas it was supposed to show a higher performance.
Junko is quite a tiny girl and she would be totally adorable if it wasn't for her cold demeanor. If you can get her to say more than three words in a row you can consider it a success. And on the off chance you can get her to look at you, you will start wondering if she can see through your body as if you were transparent.
That being said, you can only get that impression by looking at her right eye, the left half of her face is constantly covered by her hair. I wonder how can that not bother her.

Hitomi: "Aaah! Look at my schoolbag, it's all dusty! It's all your fault, useless man, take responsibility!"

Meito: "How is it my fault that I got run over?! And show a bit more concern for myself, for crying out loud!"

Junko: "Your fault... I rang... you didn't move..."

Meito: "That's... that's no excuse! Why didn't you brake?!"

Junko finally stands up and starts dusting herself.

Junko: "Improvements... failed..."

Meito: "What, seriously? How could that have affected the brakes?"

Hitomi: "Aah, this is boring! I'm not going to stand here while you geeks start one of your discussions. Sumomo-chan, let's go ahead."

Sumomo: "Are you sure you didn't break anything, Meito-kun?"

Meito: "Yes... yes I'm perfectly fine! There's no need for you to worry. It takes a lot more than that to defeat me! Ha ha ha ha!"

Sumomo: "Well then, I'll go ahead with Hitomi."

Meito: "Later..."

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Prologue (c)

Oh well, I suppose there is a bright side on this turn of events: at this pace I don't think I'll have to worry about being late for school.
We are close enough, now, and the streets are crowded with people wearing the uniforms of our school.
While running past several schoolmates at full speed, I recognize the distinctive silhouette of a common friend of ours.
Hitomi notices her as well, as she slows down and approaches her.

Hitomi: "Sumomo-chan! Good morning!"

Sumomo: "Good morning, Hitomi. Meito-kun too."

Meito: "Good *pant* morning *pant* Sumomo... *pant*"

How can Hitomi not be even a bit tired after running like that. Damn, she makes me look pathetic. Maybe I should seriously consider doing sports.
Anyway, this is Sumomo Takamiya, 17 years old.
Birth date: 10 May.
Zodiac Sign: Taurus.
Chinese Zodiac Sign: Rat.
Blood Type: AB.
Height: 1.64 m.
Weight: 55 kg.
Three sizes: 85-56-87.
Class: 3-A, Mitsugi Institute.
Member of the literature club.
Student rank placement: n° 18 with a score of 88
Only child of Ryuuzou and Megumi Takamiya (both employees).
Pet: Kuromaru (cat).
Best friend: Hitomi Gotsuji.
Favorite color: purple.
Favorite singer: Ayumu Yamazaki.
Favorite food: tuna sashimi.
Likes: reading, shopping, music, tennis.

Oh, and before you ask, the fact that I know that much about her is absolutely not suspicious.
There is no particular reason I remember any single detail about her, as there is no particular reason I'm collecting that kind of information.
I'm saying this because I don't want you to get the wrong idea that I have a crush on her or something.
Ha ha, who me? Please!
I totally have a crush on her, who am I kidding?!
She is the most beautiful girl in the school and she has a good natured and gentle personality. She has pretty good grades and she fares well in sports, but she never brags about that and she never makes an effort to stand out. She is spontaneous, but at the same time reserved. She is beloved and admired by all of her peers.
Indeed she is an angel descended from heaven to soothe the restless souls of mortal men.
I feel blessed just to be able to stand at her side and bathe in her divine light.
Her long and silky hair that smells like a tempest of flowers! Her deep and mysterious eyes that I could drown into! Her pink and perfectly shaped lips, those delicate rose petals! Her slender and elegant legs! Those well rounded and bouncing... boobs!
Please don't think little of me, every man has a weakness and Sumomo is mine. I just can't help but adore her. If my death could serve the purpose of making her smile, I would gladly relinquish my own life. That is the kind of man I am. Such is the extent of my love!
It is her that I dream about every night, and it is her angelic face I wish I could see first thing each morning.
If only I could tell her. If only I could make her understand how much I love her.
If only I could let her see the turmoil inside my heart. If only I could let her know how much this hurts...
But I can't.
And it's not just because I fear the consequences, it's not just because I don't want to risk to lose her as a friend. Well it's probably also because of that.
But the real reason is that I saw her that day.
I saw her with that man, and in that instant a piece of my heart withered and died.
Sumomo will never be mine.
But if that's how it is, I won't stand in the way of her happiness. I will be content staying by her side and rooting for her.
He, he, he... this is a cruel destiny that I intend to shoulder with stoicism and abnegation like a true samurai. I will face it with a bitterly smiling face and a hidden broken heart.
Anyway as much as I find Hitomi absolutely irritating, I cannot thank her enough for giving me the chance to know and become so close to Sumomo.
As you may have already noticed, we call each other by our fist names. That's how close we are.
That alone is reason enough for me to feel eternal gratitude towards my tomboyish childhood friend.
But still... I just can't understand how those two became friends in the first place. It is one of those universal mysteries that is destined to remain unanswered and unknowable by any scientific mean.
No matter which way you look at them, they have absolutely nothing in common. Except for maybe one thing: there is a sort of complicity between them, or maybe it is rivalry. It is probably something that as a boy I can't possibly fully understand.
Oh well, it's not like Hitomi is really a bad girl, she just happens to be a total bitch with me, for some reasons. But as far as I can tell, she is normally a pretty good company for any of her friends and the members of the basket club.
If you can pass on the fact that she can sometimes be very pushy... or that she never listens when you need to tell her something important... or that she has the bad habit of blackmailing people to make them do her biddings...
On retrospect, let me rethink my previous assessment. She is a bad girl! Absolutely, completely and unmistakably a bad girl!
Well, what really matters is that she is a good friend to Sumomo, and as long as she doesn't make her cry, I will permit their relationship and I will give it my blessing.

Hitomi: "Sumomo-chan, you need to help me and do something about this useless man."

Kh! What the hell is she trying to saying now, that devil woman!

Sumomo: "Hmm... what could the problem be?"

Hitomi: "We were walking and talking normally like every other day..."

Sumomo: "Hmm."

Hitomi: "And then he suddenly transformed into a ferocious beast! He begun staring at me with bloodshot eyes and drooling from his wolfish jaw..."

Sumomo: "Hmm."

Hitomi: "I was so scared! And so I started running away as fast as I could!"

Sumomo: "Hmm."

Hitomi: "But he kept following me like a lion who set his eyes on a weak and defenseless gazelle."

Sumomo: "Hmm."

Hitomi: "And I kept running and running and running! And he kept roaring, and growling and gnawing at the air!"

Sumomo: "Hmm."

Hitomi: "I was so scared I thought I would die!"

Sumomo: "Hmm. I think I understand the situation."

Meito: ""

Sumomo: "Meito-kun, Hitomi is very pretty and her body is that of a woman now. So it's only natural that you feel an irresistible attraction. As a man you can't help it, but you must exercise self-restraint and you should never yield to your low instincts."

I'm dumbfounded.

Hitomi: "Ha ha ha! That's it! That's it! That's exactly what you said, Sumomo-chan! He's an useless and perverted old man! Ha ha ha ha!"

Meito: "W... w... whawhawhaaaat?!"

I just. Can't. Believe it.

Meito: "You're going to pay for this! I'll make you take back all of your lies! You serpent woman! You slithering fiend!"

Hitomi: "Help! The useless man is trying to savage me again!"

Hitomi quickly takes cover behind Sumomo and sticks out her tongue. How low! She knows that's an impenetrable defense against me! I'm overwhelmed with anger, but I cannot trespass the sacred terror field that encircles the girl that I secretly have a crush on.
How dare you, Hitomi! You may have defied my righteous wrath this time, but the day of reckoning shall come!

Sumomo: "It's all right, Hitomi. I will never allow this ferocious beast to lay its claws upon you!"

Meito: "Raaaawwwwrr!!!"

Hitomi: "Kyaaah! He's going berserk! We need to run for our lives!"

Sumomo: "Fear not! I will tame the beast with my powers!"

Sumomo raises her hand and reaches out for my head.
Right now, at this very moment, I'm being patted by the most beautiful girl in the world.
I'm in heaven...

Hitomi: "Uuuoooh! Amazing, Sumomo-chan! You tamed it! You tamed the ferocious beast!"

You can slander me as much as you want, Hitomi, I don't care! I'm too glad to be alive to care!
Sumomo laughs, and her mirth is like a symphony of a thousand crystal bells.

Meito: "Sumomo, you shouldn't let Hitomi get so close to you. She might infect you with her evil influence."

Hitomi: "What's with that? I thought you were tamed."

Meito: "I'm perfectly calm."

Hitomi: "Well, I don't like that attitude, useless man! If you're tamed you should be more servile and call me 'mistress'!"

Meito: "Like hell I will!"

Hitomi: "I'll make you!"

Meito: "You try that!"

That has to be a joke. There's absolutely no way she can make me call her that in front of Sumomo. I can barely restrain myself from bursting into laughter.
Yeah, try whatever you want, Hitomi, this time you can't win!
She gets close to me with a serious face and whispers something in my ear.

Hitomi: "I'll tell her everything about how you sneaked inside the infirmary when nobody was around, and how you successfully acquired the secret file of the physical examination concerning Sumomo."

My mind goes black, my heart skips a beat and my face goes pale.

Meito: "Uwawawawawawawawawa!!!"

I flail my arms hopelessly trying to catch Hitomi, but she already retreated. She's looking at me with a mischievous smile and a victorious glare.
I lost.

Meito: "What are your orders, my mistress?"

Sumomo: "Hmm? This looks fun! What did you tell him to convince him that quickly?"

Hitomi: "Oh well, you need to know that this useless man..."

Meito: "Mistress! The time is running low! As your faithful servant I cannot allow you to fall in disgrace by failing to attend your duties!"

I interrupt the conversation and urge Hitomi to speed up.
My ego is devastated, but it is a necessary sacrifice for a noble cause.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Prologue (b)

It's an event that goes way back when we were both little children. I was playing with my friends in an abandoned yard. That was our turf.
Man, that brings back quite a lot of memories...
Anyway, I was there and then Hitomi appeared and demanded we let her join our exclusive circle for cool bros. And I said: "No way, get out! You're a girl, you can't join!"
Oh, didn't that piss her off? She asked what being a girl had to do with anything. She wanted to know what were our reasons.
My friends snickered, quite amused by the view of that bratty girl being all flustered.
"You're a girl, you're too weak. You can't keep up in our games."
"You'd only slow us down, and then you'd just keep crying."
"Little girls are just a bother, get lost!"
I agreed and I added that I didn't want any trouble with her mother should she get hurt. That wasn't a lie, her mother knew me well, since we lived so close to each other and all.
And then Hitomi clenched her fists and yelled at us. She said that she was stronger than all of us and that she could best any of us, anytime, in any kind of physical competition.
She said it.
At first we just stared at her, completely dumbfounded. Then we burst into laughter.
That didn't faze her one bit, she kept looking at us with those determined eyes of hers.
Incredulous, I asked if she was serious. She was no longer irritated, nor angry when she answered. She just showed a derisory and confident smile.
"Wanna bet?"
Now you need to consider my position, I was the leader of my little gang and I had to protect my reputation. I couldn't really back off from such an outrageous challenge.
However, I'm a knight and a gentleman and my code of conduct forbids me to cause harm to a girl. That is true now as it was back then.
So in the end we decided to settle our dispute with a running contest. On retrospect, that was a very bad idea.
We were about to start the race, when Hitomi reminded me that I never answered her question. I asked which question she was talking about and yet again she said: "Wanna bet?"
I didn't think she seriously meant to bet something on the outcome of our little duel, but she insisted.
And so I thought... "why not?" The prospect of losing didn't even cross my mind for a second.
"Sure! Whatcha wanna bet?"
"The loser will carry the winner's schoolbag for as long as we go to the same school!"
"Fine! You've got a deal!"
"I won't let you go back on your word, useless man!"
"Shut up! That's not gonna happen!"
"Don't cry on me when you lose."
"That's my line!"
"You better not pretend you didn't promise!"
"Stop nagging me! I said I won't!"
"Don't you ever, ever, ever forget that!"
"Aaargh damn! I told you to shut up! I will honor my promise, no matter what! Okay?!"

And I did.
Now that I said it, try to picture my brow and my eyes completely hidden behind my right hand. Yeah... that's exactly the feeling.
How in the world could I imagine that ten years later I'd be still bound by such promise? Why did she have to end up in my same school for all the years to come after that day?
That's just not fair! If there is a destiny, I hope it will rot in hell! Even if that doesn't make any sense!
Why does my childhood friend have to be such an athletic savant? I forgot to tell you, but she is the ace of the basket club in my school.
Now that we are both older there is no doubt who is the strongest among us. I am the tallest guy in my class and I tower Hitomi by a good 10 cm. Plus I have developed quite some muscles, so I'm confident I could overwhelm her by brute force, if I wanted.
But if I were to race her, She would undoubtedly best me again. Hitomi is not the kind of girl you want to trifle with, trust me.
So now I'm carrying myself and the two schoolbags towards school, following her trail with a disgruntled face.

Hitomi: "Hey, useless man..."

Meito: "What do you want?"

Hitomi: "Did you watch One Peace yesterday?"

Meito: "Why should I watch that childish anime?"

Hitomi: "It's not childish, it's all the rage now, and a lot of people enjoy it, children and adults alike."

Meito: "It's based on a shounen manga, right? It's a childish anime."

Hitomi: "You are way too biased, and you're not fun at all! You sound like my grandpa."

Meito: "Eh... what?! Don't compare me to a 80 year old geezer!"

Hitomi: "But you are an old man."

Meito: "Which part of me is an old man?!"

Hitomi: "Eeeeverything!"

Meito: "I'm not even following you anymore..."

Hitomi: "You always have that grumpy attitude, always complaining about this and that. That's why you're on old man."

Meito: "I don't complain about everything! Only about things that are wrong..."

Hitomi: "In other words: everything."

Meito: "Kh..."

I decide to keep quiet. Calm down, Meito, calm down. It's all right, it's just the usual Hitomi. You can survive this.

Hitomi: "Hey, useless man..."

Meito: "Look... this is probably the thousandth time that I say this, but my name is Meito! Meito, understood? I know it's an unusual name, but try to remember it for crying out loud! You write it with the kanji of 'famous' and 'person', okay? In other words I'm not an 'useless man', I'm a V.I.P.! Got it?!"

Hitomi: "An useless name for an useless man, and you're still complaining... Q.E.D."

Meito: "You really want me to kill you today..."

Hitomi: "Ha ha! I'd like to see you try it!"

Hitomi turns around and looks at me with a teasing, coquettish expression.

Hitomi: "Hey, useless man... I was thinking... if you are an old man... are you also a... dirty old man?"

I'm sure right now my face turned red and steam is blowing from my ears.
I snap and I raise my fists to the sky.

Meito: "What the hell are you blabbering about?! You shameless woman!"

Hitomi: "Ha ha ha! Pervert! Pervert!"

Hitomi springs away from me and starts running. I follow suit still waving my fists in anger.
But as I explained earlier... there's just no way I can outrun that snake! Especially now that I'm weighted down.
She's a devil...

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Prologue (a)


There is no choice without consequences
This is the consequence of a choice you have made

What usually wakes you up in the morning? Is it the hateful chime of an alarm clock? I suppose that at least half of the world would answer "yes" to that question.
It is quite depressing if you think about it; it means that for half of humanity each day starts with a sound they hate.
When you hear that monotonous "beep beep", you want to stop it that badly that even the desire to keep sleeping under your cozy and warm sheets is no match for it. But I guess that's the very purpose of an alarm clock in the first place.
Still... it sucks...
If you are lucky, then there's someone close to you that wakes you up gently and kindly. Surely when you were still a little child, your mother or your father used to take that role.
They still do? Well... being young and spoiled sure is nice... but it can get even better.
Can you think of anything sweeter than being woken up by a kiss from the person you love? Perhaps after she carefully prepared a wonderful breakfast?
Damn! How nice... but I couldn't even dream of something like that!
No, who am I trying to kid? To be honest... I've been dreaming of that a lot, and that makes waking up an even more dreadful experience.
But I digress! If you were one of those anime, manga, eroge or light novel young male characters, then you would probably have a little sister or a childhood friend that would gladly kick you out of your bed each day.
That doesn't sound very pleasant, but it would certainly be a colorful way to start the day.
Admit it, you wish the first thing in the morning you heard was "onii-chan" said in a cute female voice. And you wish you had a friend so close to you that she wouldn't mind intruding in your bedroom while you are still asleep.
Doesn't that make you feel jealous all of a sudden?
Come on, be honest! Each time you hear the annoying shrill of your alarm clock, it makes you mad!
There's nothing wrong with that! It's perfectly normal and understandable!
Why can't I have a cute little sister?! Why can't I have a cute childhood friend?! Why can't I have a cute girlfriend?!
And as I mentally scream all those questions, my hand sends the alarm clock against the next wall.
Serves you well, you filthy destroyer of dreams!
Damn, you would think that that taught it a lesson! The damn thing just doesn't want to shut up!
I dejectedly raise from my bed. Another day has begun.

To be honest, my life isn't that bad. I have a nice family and while we don't certainly swim in gold, we aren't completely broke either.
I have a younger brother and one older that doesn't want to get out and find his own place, so the apartment is a bit cramped.
I also have a lot of friends, and, despite what I've said earlier, I do have a female childhood friend that I still hang out with.
But don't let that mislead you, she's nothing like the stereotypical character found in anime. I'll tell you more about her later.
By the way, my name is Meito Oda, and I'm an 18 year old high schooler. Sorry for the late introduction, pleased to meet you, I'll be in your care, etcetera, etcetera...
I swallow my omelette in one gulp and I quickly attack the rice bowl with a barrage of chopstick swings.
I hear my mother protesting from the kitchen.

Mom: "Meito, you shouldn't eat that fast first thing in the morning."

Mom: "Meito, if you worry that much about being late for school, wake up earlier."

Mom: "Meito, are you even listening?"

I am listening, Mom, really. It's just that I've been hearing the same things over and over for the past few years. I developed an immunity to those stimulus, they no longer affect me.

Youhei: "Thanks for the food."

My younger brother, Youhei, dispassionately puts down his chopsticks and stands up. If it wasn't for the automatic speech, I wouldn't even have noticed him. Why does he need to be such a robot? His calm and indifferent demeanor really gets on my nerves.

Meito: "Hey, Youhei! Couldn't you act a little more like you are part of this family and not just an occasional passerby?"

Youhei: "I'm going."

Meito: "Hey!"

But before I can add anything, he's already gone.

Meito: "Kh... what the hell is wrong with him?"

Mom: "Leave him be, Meito. Yohei is studying hard and diligently to get admitted to a good high school. He's thinking seriously about his future... unlike you..."

Meito: "He just wants to get load of money and get done with us poor losers!"

Mom: "Don't talk like that, Meito!"

Meito: "Yeah yeah... what about the other brother, the one that is totally useless? Where is he?"

Mom: "He's still sleeping."

Meito: "He hasn't found any job yet? Why don't you tell him to get a grip?!"

Mom: "I keep telling you that, did it ever work?"


Mom: "Besides... it's not his fault. You know how the economy is bad these days, after the lost decade and all..."

Meito: "How longer will he keep making that excuse? Give me one more year and I'll be done studying. Then you'll see how fast I'll get a job!"

I take a slice of bread and stuff my mouth with it. At the same time I get up and I pick my schoolbag up.

Meito: "I'mf foin'..."

Mom: "My my, Meito, finish your breakfast properly before heading out..."

I don't reply, there's no need and I couldn't even if I wanted. Chewing and entire loaf of bread is no joke.
I absentmindedly put on my shoes and open the door, and suddenly I see a finger being thrust to my face at the speed of sound!

Girl: "You're late!"

The surprise attack makes me swallow and my overstretched esophagus sends a storm of pain signals in protest. I double over while repeatedly hitting my chest. I'm almost in tears.

Girl: "How long were you planning of making me wait? Useless man!"

I want to protest and give her a piece of my mind, but right now... I can't...

Girl: "Seriously... what kind of man makes a lady wait that much? You're really the worst!"

Meito: "Good morning to you too! Hitomi!"

Hitomi: "Yeah, yeah... good morning."

My tone was absolutely sarcastic and irritated, but if she read the mood at all, she didn't really let it show.
By the way, this is Hitomi Gotsuji. She is the childhood friend I mentioned earlier, and as you can see... she is truly a sweetheart...
Her apartment is in the same building as mine and we were born on the same year, so we practically grew up together.
I'm a little older, though, I'm 18 already while she's still 17. Not like she cares anyway...
At any rate, we go to the same school and this year we are even in the same class. Which means...

Hitomi: "Here, take my bag and let's get moving. I don't want to be late because of you."

Meito: "Why do I have to be your pack mule again?!"

Hitomi: "Hu-huuuu..."

That mischievous smile sends me a shiver.

Hitomi: "Did you really forget? Do I need to remind you?"

I didn't forget. I just want to pretend that it never happened.