Dream Entry #2
I opened the door and went inside.
The first thing I saw was the bed. The second thing I saw was the naked couple occupying it, man straddling woman in a textbook missionary position. He worked his thrusts, and the woman’s breasts bounced in time. I looked away, more indifference than disgust.
Paul approached me. He had been standing on the side of the room.
“Hey,” he said.
“Hey,” I replied with a nod. The lovers were but another fixture in the room.
He handed me a shotgun. “Stand guard by the door, please.”
And so I did. My back was to the door, and the shotgun weighed oddly light in my arms. My daughter just stared at me, all thirteen years of precocious her, wearing that knowing grin.
“What?” I snapped.
I looked away, tightening my finger on the trigger guard. People walked by, some casting worried glances at me and my gun.
Later, the door behind me clicked, and the couple silently filed out, fully-dressed and all. I realized that the woman was wearing glasses. Strange, that I always notice such things.
Paul’s head peeked out of the door. “Thanks, man.”
I shrugged. My daughter kept her smile.
WHAT DOES THIS ALL MEAN?
Drink Another Between Night & Blue
My sister gingerly lifts my hand away from the glass. It’s half-full, but my eyes can’t seem to make out the color of whatever diabolic mix I had made in my stupor.
“Same story as always, huh?”
I blink again and again, trying to focus my eyes on her. She always liked baggy shirts. All the better to show off her collarbones.
“Well,” I throw my hands up, “that’s how it went.”
“Honestly. I know you’re eager to try out the thing you learned in that book, but try to keep it down to one girl.” I focus on her horn-rimmed glasses. Yeah, that’s right. My doting big sister in a nutshell.
I make a grab for the glass, aiming to drink another Between Night and Blue. This time, my sister doesn’t stop me.
I down it in three gulps, not bothering to allow myself to taste the drink. Between Night and Blue. The drink I made up, with no rhyme or reason save to forget my monumental failure. Failures.
“So the first girl,” I drawl, slumping on the table. “She was alone, had a polka-dot skirt, and… fuck. I keep on going back to that skirt.”
“Knee-length?” she offers. Her inquisitive face is propped up by her hands.
“Shorter. Compliments her stockings. Man, wish I had a tape measure to check out those ratios.”
I rise suddenly from the table, throwing up my arms. “Whoosh! Looked at me funny. Said she had a boyfriend. ‘Course I don’t believe her. Try to flatter her more.”
I nurse my head, feeling the pain sink in. “That’s when she pointed to this tattooed dude chatting with the bartender. I… made a tactical retreat.”
“An utter rout,” my sister says, offering me a consoling grin. “This is the Cold Night girl, right?”
“What about the Blue Angel one?”
I stare at the pepper shaker on the side of the table. What can I do, it’s 4 AM, with the alcohol wreaking havoc on my system. It’s even a miracle that I got home.
“Blue Angel… Blue Angel.” I decide to call her that. “Blue Angel’s a close call. Pretty young. Possibly underage.”
“Really?” She’s grinning.
“At least it looked like her first time. Bar virgin and all that. Anyway, she got friends with her, but they were spinning on the dance floor. I… thought she was pretty, sitting like a proper lady. Like she were ashamed of her cute little breasts.”
“Tell me more about these breasts.” I try to imagine my sister’s voice as a hard-boiled detective’s, straight from one of those noir shows.
“Right in the middle of B-cup territory. They were cute. She was cute. Made small talk with her. Weather, upcoming holidays, that kind of stuff.”
“You said she was a close call.”
“I was getting to that, sis.” What did I put on my drink again? Between Night and Blue is such a dumb name. And I can’t even remember what I put in. I think I was trying to make a Bloody Mary, but my mind fizzled out midway and thought of a dozen different cocktails. My throat burns for some reason.
“She was smiling. And blushing. She’d taken a few sips of margarita and looked emboldened enough. Those soft cheeks definitely had a crimson sheen in them.”
“I pulled out,” I confess. “Just, you know, walked away. She was too nice. Fish out of the water, you know? I’d damn be ashamed if I caught her. Too trusting, too easy. She was too good for me, sis. You understand, right?”
“I do.” My sister stands up, walks to my side of the table, and lifts me out of the chair by my arm.
“I do.” She repeats, hoisting me on her shoulder. I feel so light. I don’t even resist. My stomach sloshes, dangerously courting my gag reflex. I suppress it for her.
“I love you.”
“Don’t hit on your sister, idiot.”
“Idiot. That’s not what I meant.”
I sobbed all the way to bed.
Explore in Silent Rhythm the Curse
Something’s not right with the teacher today, Keiko thought.
Mr. Moore rarely wrote on the blackboard. And when he did, it was only to emphasize a key phrase or term. Today, he was filling the board up with unintelligible sentences, constructs that violated the very rules of grammar he taught.
It wasn’t right. Mr. Moore was a good teacher, and the class liked him. Keiko dimly remembered a conversation with the man, where he admitted to exploring sacred ruins in the country. She wondered where was the fun in that, but politely smiled as the Westerner babbled about half-forgotten gods.
Her classmates started passing notes. Keiko discreetly took the paper from Rina, and read it.
“What’s going on?”
“Teacher Moore is strange today.”
“What does “explore in silent rhythm the curse” mean, anyway?”
“Man, I can’t wait for the bell.”
Keiko decided not to write on it, finding her pity towards the teacher stronger than the urge to crack a joke on his expense. She passed the paper to Takashi. The boy’s audible chuckle did nothing to break their English teacher’s concentration.
The words didn’t seem to be English anymore. Mr. Moore’s script turned less and less legible, and he wrote with increasing fervor. Something unclean swirled up from his body, as if he had been possessed by a foul spirit.
At any rate, someone had to do something.
Keiko stood up with a bang. “Um, Teacher? How does this relate to our lesson?” She immediately blushed at the incredulity of her question.
The class’s laughter died when Mr. Moore turned. He looked… changed.
Their English teacher’s once-blue eyes were black spots. His face was pasted in a crazed grin. Keiko gripped her chair’s desk with whitening knuckles.
A rift in the void opened at the center of the blackboard, two emaciated hands ripping the fabric of space apart. The hands were simply too big to be anything near human.
Someone started screaming. Keiko wasn’t even sure if it was her, or some other girl.
Mr. Moore didn’t move from his spot, even as the hands enveloped his entire body like a child would grasp a small toy.
Keiko looked away. There was a muffled pop, and a chunk of flesh slapped her cheek with a sickening wet sound. Gurgling noises came from the unholy passageway, promising them all a painful end. The entire class started to run for it, turning chairs over as they bolted for the exits. A student smashed into Keiko, sending her sprawling on the ground.
A grunt of pain escaped from her lips. She pushed herself up, not looking at the monster, not looking at the fragments of bone and gore streaking the floor. Trying. Shutting her eyes only fanned her terror.
Two fingers carefully lifted her up by the collar of her shirt. Buttons began to give underneath her weight, and then she was yanked into the rift.
This time, Keiko didn’t forget to scream, as nothingness swallowed her. The pain, she thought, would last forever.
And, as it turned out, she was right.
Who’s the mother?
The lightbulb was shut, a faint orange gleam dying with every passing moment. From their bed, Yuri gestured to it with her free hand.
“It was worth it, don’t you think? Living here, I mean. I like this place, even if it’s a bit hard to clean.”
Rei looked into her eyes, past the glasses, past the brown irises, trying to gain entry into what other people called “the soul”.
Moving out of their homes. Places of luxury and comfort, abandoned, sacrificed for something deemed much more worthy: living together.
“Yes,” she whispered. “It’s worth it.”
For a long time, they stared at the bulb, not meeting each other’s eyes. Lost in thought. Rei couldn’t stand it anymore.
She buried her head in Yuri’s chest, snuggling in. It wasn’t the first time for both of them. Theirs was a storied history, but it had been Yuri who came to her, pierced that flimsy barrier that she had put up for many years… Maybe, Rei thought, maybe she could repay her.
Yuri didn’t even flinch, wrapping her arms around Rei. Just like that, Rei felt like a child again in her arms, vulnerable. Yuri always made her feel that way. Her bosom would make you dream, then charm you into sleep.
“If…” Rei’s words died like a stalling engine. “If… we ever get married, you’ll be the mother.”
There was a giggle, followed by a sniff. Tears? Oh, she made her cry again. Rei shut her own eyes tightly. Yuri’s arm left her, presumably to wipe her own eyes.
Didn’t she open up old wounds? Neither of their mothers still walked this world. Rei wondered which of them was lonelier for it—she, whose birthing had cost her her mother’s life? Or Yuri, whose mother’s death a memory too painful to revisit? At least Yuri had known her mother. Seen her. Felt her.
But Rei never had to contend with such a betrayal. No one deserved to see such dainty feet, dangling from the ceiling, suspended by despair, pulled down by a mortal weight. Not Yuri.
“Is that so?” Yuri’s voice was softer. She stroked Rei’s hair, fingers nearly touching the nape of her neck, which smelled like flowers.
“Alright!” The affirmation rang too loudly, like a rebellion against the silence. Just like that, the aura of gloom lifted.
“It was just to cheer you up. Don’t get the wrong idea,” Rei mumbled to Yuri’s chest. “I was just joking…”
Her voice trailed off, as sleep came.
Yuri’s lips caressed Rei’s hair, as she tightened her warm embrace. Rei liked to be held. Like this. What a silly girl. She wouldn’t be able to move, if she wanted to get up. She wouldn’t dare disturb her.
“But I wish you weren’t.” The reply arrived, unheard.
Betty was fine, he had thought, until she proposed this to me:
“I want our team to have bring-your-cat-to-work Fridays.” That was what she said. Two-and-a-half years of plain, good work, the image of a perfect employee, all shattered.
Any other person would have asked me a raise at that period in time, and I would give it to them. Oh, what I’d give just to take that decision back.
Did you think I turned her down? The best damned dev in the place?
By my grave mistake, I have approved bring-your-cat-to-work Fridays. But not bring-your-cat-to-work-and-take-care-of-them-yourself Fridays.
And now, I am staring at the most hideous creature I have ever known. Round and fat, with fur white as snow, with a disposition blacker than my own, withered heart.
Oh, you shall ravage that painting no more. By my tie I swear it.
Just Eat It
Yuri rested her elbows on the table, humming a tune to herself. Before her lay a small rectangular box covered in red paper, adorned with golden ribbons.
“Almost done?” she hollered at the kitchen.
“Yes!” came Rei’s flustered reply. “This isn’t a problem for me at all!”
Yuri carried her sigh to the other room. “You know, if I knew you were going to make one, then you should have just come with me to Zaku-nyan’s. She has everything you need to make chocolates on your own! She was making something really good, but it was hard and took real long. I just baked a cake instead.”
“To be in the same kitchen, making confectioneries for each other,” Rei mused, “that cheapens the mystique to it!”
“I love it when you stand your ground like that, Rei,” Yuri said. “Especially when you’re very, very wrong.” She lovingly twisted the knife in Rei’s side.
“Anyway. Zaku-nyan gave us a bunch of her chocolates! ‘It seems that I made too much, so share this with Rei. And don’t you dare gobble everything up, or I’ll never forgive you.’ ” She made her best Zaku-nyan impression, complete with the deadpan face. Rei fought so hard not to laugh and make an entire mess of the kitchen.
“That’s why I’m making something for her, too. Well, I can’t possibly compete with her work, but I have to do it.” There was a scampering of feet as Rei placed the chocolate in the refrigerator. She reappeared in the doorway, having just put away her apron.
“I don’t think you’ll make it in time to give it to her personally,” Yuri said. “But there’s always White Day!”
Rei sat down on the opposite side of the table. “Yuri… do I look like a man to you?”
“No,” Yuri said sweetly, “but even you wouldn’t be able to claim that you’re the more feminine person in this relationship, would you?”
Rei sneered. Yuri reached over and wiped sweat from her forehead.
“Don’t push yourself too hard, silly.” Gently.
“Idiot. How can I sit still when you and Zaku-nyan are giving everything they have?” Rei’s face was very, very red.
“Well, seeing you like this is enough,” Yuri replied, grinning. “You’re sweetest when you’re like this.”
“I’m opening it!” Rei snapped.
“Then be my guest.”
And so Rei did. The cake Yuri baked was molded into a heart, with Rei’s own name generously written on top with pink icing.
“This irregular shape… how am I going to slice it?”
“It doesn’t matter! Just eat it!”
And so Rei did, in silence, the blush never leaving her cheeks the entire time.
An Imagined Conversation
“I followed your advice. I broke up with him.”
“You did? Seriously?”
“Yeah. We had a good, long talk about it. It wouldn’t work out, so we arrived at that decision. I’m sorry.”
“Why are you apologizing?”
“I just thought… isn’t it awkward? You introduced me to him. You’re his best friend. God, I feel weird just bringing this up to you.”
“Look. I’m not taking sides. You can talk to me freely. And honestly, while I feel sad about the whole thing, I suppose it’s all for the better.”
“You mean you expected our relationship to fall apart?”
“With how things turned out, yeah. But you guys handled it better than I’d have thought.”
“He’s the mature one.”
“Whoa. No way.”
“Yeah! I’m serious. Why?”
“I honestly don’t know how he acts around you. But as I know him? I always have to drive him home, and he’s puked in my car at least twice.”
“No shit. He drives me home.”
“That’s because you’re a girl. Aside from being a violent drunk, that is.”
“He never took advantage of me drunk, actually. He’d say such sweet things like ‘Honey, if I were to fuck you, it would be while you’re sober.’ “
“And you’re never sober.”
“Hah! It worked! I’ve actually seen his cock. It’s not something I’d like to be pegged with.”
“Whoa, why? And before you ask, it’s an academic interest.”
“I asked him to show it to me. Scared me shitless. I told him to put it away. He’s cool about it, but I don’t think he ever forgave me about it.”
“It’s a man’s pride. Of course he’ll never forgive you about it. But did that lead to this decision?”
“Nope. Well, just one minor thing that added up to a whole pile. A bunch of little misgivings give you that.”
“I see. I don’t have much of a clue about relationships, though. Never been in one.”
“Oh? Wanna do it, then?”
“No way in hell.”
“If it isn’t too much to ask, may I know why?”
“Because you’re absolutely, absolutely not my type.”
“That’s a real surprise! And I thought you liked me!”
“I like you. But what you’re proposing is stupid. We’re friends. That’s enough.”
“Man. Sorry about that.”
“Just forget about it.”
“So… are you gay?”
“No. What made you think of that?”
“Nothing! Just something that’s bothered me. He always joked about you being one.”
“That bastard. I just haven’t found the right person. The right girl, I mean.”
“Oh, you corrected yourself! How cute.”
“Would you please shut up and finish your drink? It’s getting late, and the ugly girls in the dance floor are tempting me to grab one my own every passing minute. I’m the designated driver, remember?”
“And the only possible choice. I don’t have a license.”
“Always one to try and have the last word out, huh?”
Training Starts Tomorrow
It’s such a cliche. The rain pelts us both, and I can’t tell if those are tears on her cheeks, or just rain. My teeth still cling on the soggy cigarette, as if my life depended on it.
“Hey. Stop crying,” I say.
“I’m not…” Her weak reply forces a bad taste in my mouth. I edge closer, awkwardly favoring one leg. Blood’s running down one of my thighs, from a wound that’s worse than it looks.
“Always nice to see someone taken away from you, eh.” I give the heavens a finger. “I liked someone. She was a girl, too. Like you. Like me.”
Her lips move again. “They took Mom and Dad,” I read.
“Sheesh. Never liked my parents.” I lay a hand on her bare shoulder. It’s obviously cold, but the brimming rage and anguish underneath surprise me. I grin despite myself.
“Hey. Wanna fuck up those who did this to you? To your parents?”
And right on cue, she coughs up blood. The gaping hole in her chest isn’t pretty, a dark crimson tumor spreading across the rest of her body.
She nods, almost imperceptibly. “No matter how hard it is, I’ll endure it.”
“Oh, but you don’t know how hard I can be.” My free hand hovers before her ruined chest.
The first kindness she receives from me.
The first cruelty I give to her.
I mend it, forming heart and ribcage and flesh, until she sinks into my arms like a stricken log. Then I trudge back home.
Tsundere Service #2
My scanners picked up five enemy units, forming a defensive cordon around the objective. I would be in their sensor range in 10 seconds.
“Ensign, I’m going past through them.”
“You’ll have to—” Ensign Browning started, until she realized what I was planning. “Oh!”
My screen told me that I was entering effective enemy range in 5 seconds.
“Activating booster, setting inertia dampers to full yield.” My hand gripped the throttle, ready to push it forward.
The radar blanked out. I felt mild discomfort, keenly feeling the vibration inside the cockpit. I deactivated the booster after 4.4 seconds.
“You passed two enemy defense lines, but they’re turning back to pursue you,” Ensign Browning said. She was furious with my stunt.
My radar spiked back to life, detecting seven Gallian-M units around the objective. I smiled. Good odds. I fired my beam rifle at one too slow to react, blowing a hole through its thorax and vaporizing the cockpit.
“Tactical assessment: suggest you use a modified Circus-pattern spread.”
“Accepted, Ensign.” I acquired lock and fired a five-missile salvo for each enemy unit.
They broke immediately into evasive maneuvers. One Gallian was struck in the wing, and went off in a small, contained fireball. Another destroyed three missiles before the fourth blew its arm off. Its gun exploded, rocking it squarely into the fifth missile’s path, which finished it off. One Gallian flew in a wide arc, outrunning my missiles. I took advantage of its distracted state, shooting it down with my beam rifle.
Two units bore down on me from opposite directions. I fired the booster for a fraction of a second, swung Melos Kai around, and finished them off.
The last Gallian drew a heavy, straight blade. If I blew it up at this range, I would be caught in the reactor explosion, so I fired off my verniers and flipped back. Its swing missed Melos Kai’s head by a few meters. I activated the hidden beam blade in my mech’s foot, and sliced it in half cleanly.
“Something’s headed straight at you, lieutenant! One unit, but it’s very fast!” Ensign Browning’s tone was urgent. The enemy has an ace?
A beam went wide. I braked, my shield raised and facing the direction of the shot. An Almazza-type appeared on my radar, a blackness that seemed to distort its surrounding space with its unrivaled speed.
“Just get the objective and get out of there! The rest of the enemy force is closing in!” She turned her head to the side, as if to converse with someone else, and cut off her channel.
The objective was nearby. It fitted in the palm of Melos Kai’s hand. I retrieved it, firing back at the newcomer’s way.
“I’ve secured the cargo.” I hope it was all worth it, I almost added.
“The Aurelius will be moving forward to cover you, Lieutenant. “
My surroundings lighted up as a salvo of beams fired from behind me. I acquired lock and fired all my remaining missiles. Numerous dots blinked out of the radar, but the Almazza was still alive and accelerating fast.
Dead ahead, two thick beams punched through the darkness of space, scattering the rest of my pursuers. The Almazza fired its beam rifle, which barely scorched the Aurelius’s prow. Gun lenses tracked it, and peppered it with a shower of rapid-fire beams.
I switched to my auxiliary camera just to see the enemy Almazza throw its round shield away to take the brunt of the ship’s counterattack. It emerged unscathed from the resulting explosion, retreating quickly out of the Aurelius’s range.
I opened a channel to the Aurelius’s Captain as the cruiser loomed in visual range. “You have my thanks, Captain Dowadge.”
Captain Dowadge’s shadowed, hook-nosed face appeared in my monitor. Strangely enough, his old features were painted with a youthful smile. “You have the Ensign to thank for your salvation, Lieutenant. She convinced me to take a more active stance in securing the objective.”
I nodded, addressing my operator. “Thank you, Ensign.”
Ensign Browning crossed her arms and glowered at me. “Don’t get the wrong idea. I only did it to ensure the mission’s success.”
“Aren’t you opening the hatch, Ensign? I need to secure my cargo and resupply.”
Ensign Browning blinked, caught off-guard by my comment. “O-opening the hatch!”
I heard muffled laughter from the bridge, but I couldn’t understand why.
Why I Write
One of those rare times when I talk about writing in this space.
I was talking to a friend yesterday, and he said that he writes (and plays music, but that’s another matter entirely) in order to communicate his feelings to an audience. It’s a rather beautiful reason.
Unfortunately, that’s not really why I write.
I thought about it at length, and realized that I write so that I could tell lies.
I’ve never had a girlfriend, let alone strange, deviant ones. I’ve never been in space, piloted giant robots, become a [trap] magical girl, and just many other fantastical things. It’s an ever-growing pile of scenarios and characters in my head.
I often, no, always ask myself what it’s like to experience all of these. And my answers are what I’ve been writing here. I make stuff up, and I pour my love and care into making them convincing.
They are all lies, in the sense that they never happened.
They are all lies, but they are all true.