poet, soldier, king
Poet, soldier or king? Everyone can be laid into one of these categories. Currently, there is a quiz going viral based on the song "Poet, Soldier, King" by the Oh Hellos. If you haven't heard the song, I heavily suggest you take a listen, especially if you are fond of Celtic rock/folk. The subsequent quiz, which I have linked below and also suggest you take, will put you in one of these positions. At first, I found this to be just another personality quiz, and I went in with confidence that I would get the result of Poet. My, was I shocked when I received at the very thing I hid from: the King. At first, I was confused, because I am a poet, I am a writer, my weapon is my words.
However, as I stared at myself in the mirror later that night, I realized something. I stand, with a straight back, my shoulders tense and heavy, as if carrying the weight of the voiceless and nameless. My eyes are heavy with the things I have seen and the pain I have felt. There are bags underneath them, hollow, that have become prominent after making sacrifices and difficult decisions. The crown may not sit on my head, but I have felt its weight since I was born. I have dressed up as the poet, but I have always been and might always be a tired King with relentless hope and duty.
I hid from it for so long, but the crown bore my name long before I was born, the stars wrote my name long before I ever picked up a pen. I may not have a kingdom, but I do have a people. I have a community I grew up in, a town, a home, where people looked to me as a leader for a new generation. It was expected of me since I was young. I led the young girls and I shed blood to keep up with the boys my age. I smiled at parties and said all the right things. Even with my mistakes and faults, the crown was relentless, it has embedded itself in my skull, like thorns. You see the flowers grow from my head, but not the blood I have wiped away.
I heard that the poet wants to be the soldier, the soldier wants to be the king, and the king wants to be the poet. Which, although accurate, misses a few details. More than that, I believe that someone else spoke correctly when they said the Poet wants the strength of the Soldier, the Soldier wants the mind of the King, and the King wants the freedom of the Poet. And don't you all know that to be true? I once read that every great writer has a hallmark emotion that they write from. If that's true, mine is the cry for freedom. Deeper than yearning and more raw than longing. I have dreamed of freedom since I was young. I have felt the weight of the crown, but it weighs me down, and I hope to be free one day. For now however, I have accepted something: I am the King. Not a King who sees the world with fresh eyes, but one who has seen one too many wars and injustices, but has never forgotten the dream of peace and freedom.
I finally figured it out in the end, here is the ultimate truth: I have the hands of a soldier, the heart of a poet, and the eyes of a King. I know what the say, heavy is the head that bears the crown- but I have strong shoulders.
10pm at Cheers: a thank you.
I live in a big city. The sounds grow louder with the day and the lights grow brighter with the night. Too often, I feel myself become lost in the rapid pace of this city. I fight feelings of loneliness, emptiness and immense fear, but there comes a time where I forget all of that. There is one hour of my day that sets my soul at ease. For one hour of the day, I am transported to another big city: Boston. There, after walking in the chilly wind, I end my day in a warm place. Every night, at 10 pm, I am greeted by the sounds and warmth of a bar called Cheers.
At 10pm, I turn my TV to Channel 7, and I say hello to the gang at Cheers. Tears well in my eyes but refuse to fall as the theme song plays. It's at that time I really do miss where everybody knows my name. I scream "Norm!" at the TV and I laugh as Carla hurls verbal punches at Diane. The solace I have, is that for an hour, I am no longer here. For 2 episodes, I am in a completely different city, where I am amongst the bar patrons, rolling my eyes when Cliff begins to speak.
You see, it's not about Cheers, but it is what Cheers represents. The familiar atmosphere is something I long to find here in college, but I am still seeking it. I suppose it is peculiar, that a show which is 41 years old puts my 19 year old heart at rest, but nothing makes me feel at ease like those beginning piano bars in the theme song. I think there is quite the truth to be spoken in that song. I am prolific amongst my friends and family for being a runner. Not in the athletic sense, but in the sense that I am constantly running away from the familiar and into the unknown. However, I find that no matter how far I run, I will always look back and cherish my time at the places where everyone knows my name.
I think, in a manner of speaking, it's inherent human nature to seek places where everyone knows us and is glad we came. It's part of what makes Cheers so special. Here, where I have no one, I find great solace in the fact that once the clock turns 10, I can turn to Sam Malone, and tell him about my day while he gives me a smile and pours me a drink. What makes Cheers work as a show, and I mean the inherent nature in the message of the show, is that it provides an empathetic retreat where one can feel at home. Do you know how many times I've turned on Cheers after a bad day, crying during the theme song only to leave the episode laughing as the picture of the bar room lingers on my screen, reminding me to thank Glen Charles, Les Charles, and James Burrows.
Cheers and its theme song feel like Bruce Springsteens longing and cathartic cry in Born to Run. That's how I best know how to describe it. It is a part of my soul that is so calming that sometimes, when I truly feel the depths of this lonely world, I pretend I am at that bar. I pretend everyone shouts my name as I walk through the door and Coach asks "How's life treating ya?" when I sit down. I pretend that for a few moments in my day, I am received with love and fondness. You see, the warmth of the bar in Cheers makes the cold pavements of my big city a little easier to bear. The gang on the show makes me feel like loneliness isn't a burden on my heart. I owe a big thank you to Cheers, it's been with me through the thick and thin. How I feel so connected to something from so long ago. To me, Cheers feels like laughter.
These characters speak to me every night. Carla reminds me to be tough, Diane reminds me to be elegant, Cliff reminds me to be myself, Norm reminds me to be true to my values, Frasier reminds me to allow myself to be hurt, Rebecca reminds me to be kind, Woody reminds me to hold onto childlike innocence, Coach reminds me to laugh, at the world and at myself. Most importantly, Sam reminds me to be brave, passionate, accepting, humble and above all, he reminds me that there will always be a seat for me at the end of the bar. Cheers.
What do you say when someone dies?
When the supermarket flowers aren’t enough.
And the food I bring begins to grow old,
Placed on a table, buried by piles of stuff.
I could buy a million roses,
But in a week, they would have died.
They might crumble in your hand,
and they won’t fill the void inside.
I know that the calendar won’t change months,
And the clock will freeze in time,
And the bells will softly taunt you,
when they begin to chime.
So I stand upon your doorstep,
But my hands refuse to knock.
I usually know exactly what to say,
But now, I’m afraid to talk.
I look to the heavens as if they’ll answer,
Today, the sky is more gray than blue,
And I whisper to whoever is listening,
“He cries every time he thinks of you.”
I wish we could fill your hollow bones,
With food, flowers and some dessert.
But you already seem too heavy,
In your eyes, I see all of your hurt.
I guess this is part of life,
I’ll be honest, we don’t know what to do
So I’ll just silently stand here by your side,
I’ll always be waiting here for you.
I’ve always said life moves fast, but,
Buying these roses today was never planned.
And now I’m standing at your door,
Staring at the supermarket flowers in my hand.
please be gentle, this is my deepest secret.
This will not be like my other posts, this one will lack poise and refinement, but it will be as raw and real as anything I have ever written. The morning is cloudy, it's just rained, but the clouds linger over us. So, what's special about this morning? Nothing. I had plans to go out with a friend, a friend who won't reply. My dad asked me, "How's college? How are your friends?" and all I could ask is "What friends?". My adventures are always alone, but my deepest secret is that I want a group of friends in college more than I could ever imagine. The last few weeks have been a steady stream of people ditching me for something better, reinforcing the notion that I will always be 2nd in someone's life, even if they come first for me.
The only good group of friends I have is scattered across the country, weekly facetime calls are the only thing that reminds us that home is made of people, not a place. And under the veil of my online identity, I will tell you my biggest secret. Last week, one of my friends asked us, "If you could be granted one wish, right now, what would it be?", and that was the first time I've ever lied to my friends. We laughed, more happiness, more freedom, maybe some Taco Bell, we joked. But here it is, here is what I wanted to wish for, so horrible that I haven't even been able to say it out loud.
I wished everyone would forget me. I wished that no one would feel pain if I left. I've wanted to run, disappear, leave, drown, and the harshest one of all, I once wanted to leave this earth. But there is a thought in my head, that the people who really love me, might feel a irreversible pain. It's like a safety net, and they will never know how deeply, they are the only thing tethering me to this world. But, by god, sometimes I wish that no one knew me, so it would hurt them when my feet break out into a run and I disappear.
It's a horrible thing, I know, but I can only be lonely for so long. I'm sure it doesn't feel like the end of the world to you, but to me, I think that the world would keep spinning and it wouldn't make a difference. The only thing that stops me from just disappearing is that it might cause more pain than my freedom is worth. Will this be my life? Adventuring alone and telling myself that I like it better than being with people? What is it that makes me want to run away? I'm looking for something different out of life and people my age aren't seeking the same things. I can't pretend the alcohol makes me feel full, it only leaves me feeling empty. I can't cope the way they do. Because if I do, and I reach the bottom of the bottle, it'll be as empty as I feel.
I'm sorry, if you are reading this, I am sorry. I am sorry for the tears that are falling from my eyes and I am sorry for the pain I feel. I know you don't have to be reading this, but my god, I appreciate it. It means the world and more to me. This is my safe space. This will be the secret I take to the grave. It's a cloudy morning, and I still can't see the sun in the sky.
Three for One
At last, love left their house.
Nobody used him as she did.
Once, he saw but was blind.
I think parts of me are different ages, you could tear me apart, limb by limb, and you would be able to never guess how the parts of me belong to each other. I am a paradox by my very existence. I am old and new at the same time. My fingers are old, they hold the earth like they have felt its waters a million times over. They drum along to old songs from the '80s, the '40s, and the '20s, then to hymns that were first sung thousands of years ago. They touch the ivory keys on a piano with the same fervor and curiosity that Mozart and Beethoven had. My hands are the oldest in the way they hold a paintbrush, only wanting to capture raw human emotion as softly as possible.
Yet my eyes are young, they have life and light in them. Yes, they show the heaviness of my pain but do not mistake that for a faded spirit. The youth in my eyes is only filled with possibilities. I look up at the stars and the universe with the same astonishment and child-like awe that you can see in cracks through the professional facade of astronomers when they send satellites into deep space. My eyes will show you all the things that you can be and everything you have ever wanted to be.
Just like that, I am made up of different pieces. My feet are old, they have walked this earth hundreds of times before and they are no strangers to the soil. I can walk anywhere, however long it takes me, I have no objections. My smile is that of a 19 year old, forever on the edge of adulthood but still standing in adolescence. I will hug you like I am 78, and this may be the last time. I will hold your hand like I am 2 and you are all I know and have in this world. I will love you in multiple ways. I will love you like the 8-year-old who needs her father's hand to jump across a river, and I will love you like we are 15 and have never known hurt before. I will love you like I am 18 and see the rest of my life with you. I will love you like I am 29, creating our life together. I will love you like I am 35, where, in the mess of life and chaos, I still choose you. I will love you like I am 50, still in love with your smile and the glitter in your eyes. I will love you like I am 83 and not even death can pull us apart. I will love you in all these ways, all at once.
I have no fear of turning 20, or 30, or 50, or 80 and I especially, have no fear of meeting death. For my soul is without age, it floats and it dances. It belongs to futuristic dreamers and impressionist painters. It reads the articles of tomorrow and falls in love with the classics of yesterday. My soul is not a diamond to be valued, it is simply beautiful because it is. I could guess my age in every mirror, but each time I would see something different. In one, I would see my mother's face, and in another, I will see my younger sister. My face, my features, and my aura were generations in the making and will be seen for generations to come. My eyes are hundreds of generations old, and my nose will be there for generations to come. You have seen me before and you will see me again.
I suppose I couldn't say how old I am, just that I am of this earth and in the most earth-shattering and unnerving way, I am human.
Leaves like wings
I watch the butterflies dance around the oak tree,
Fluttering in and out, with the breath of the breeze.
But if I am silent enough, If the blood stops rushing,
I can feel wind from its wings, like waves in seas.
Let it be silent, in always reminding me,
That the leaves will fall, and I am like the tree.
The flowers are long gone, now I bear fruit.
And as the branches empty, my heart follows suit.
I think back to climbing trees, my knees always scraped
but my hands became strong, holding roses and thorns.
Soon, the butterflies stop dancing, they land one last time,
Falling like leaves, but the tree never mourns.
I suppose it knows, what we would all find out.
That butterflies will be born again, it does not doubt.
But I will sit, in the dead of winter,
And long to feel the tree, this ache much like a splinter.
A dim sun rises, over mountains made of mist,
And we became cold in the rain and dark in our towers.
Until the days become long, they whisper to me,
That the butterflies are dancing again, and I finally have flowers.
There is a strange, relatively new trend among the teenagers. This trend is kin to the trend of writing names, or initials, on a lock and then locking that lock onto a railing, whether it be the railing of a bridge or the railing of something else. The unique thing about this new trend is that instead of writing two names on a lock and leaving it without anyone really knowing whose it is, young people are rather loading information onto a digital paper, more of a plastic, and tying it with a string to the bottom of bridges, door frames, and balconies. No, the teenagers are not using dating sites in this technologically advanced society, they are tying information about themselves to various structures. Information that includes descriptions of their looks, address, likes, dislikes, age, close family, and where they spend most of their time. Some even include a picture of themselves so that you would know exactly how they look. All of this is done in an effort to get a person that may be the person with whom they think that they should spend the rest of their life with.
A logically thinking person would know that this practice is utmostly stupid, and definitely not as romantic as some of the partakers think. That is because no matter what barriers civil servers have put in place to prevent harm to people, these digital boards can give any low-life enough information so that he can be able to do harm, perhaps even unreparable harm as one mass murderer has managed to do. That is right. Teenagers gave enough information for a murderer to kill them and leave without anyone even knowing who the killer is.
But do not think that the victims hand themselves to this murderer on a silver platter, even though they sort of ask to be harmed through their actions. No, it is not that easy, even for him.
In this city, Jansonton, there is a system that he needs to bypass in order to remain undetected and untraceable, a very intricate system. The name of this system is the S. E.R.T.U.I.T.F.S.A.S.P., or the Stupid Eye Reader That Uses Its Technologies For Sensing Alcohol ’Steadof People. I beg your pardon, the actual definition for this acronym is: Smart Eye Reader That Uses Identification Technologies For Safety And Searching Purposes. My reason for being negative about it is that it gets me into trouble quite often, since it usually catches me drunk. In my defense, though, most of the times when it slanders my name is when I am off-duty, which is a time in which an officer should be allowed to drink a bottle or four. But then again, there is a paragraph in the job description that says that police employees should not be drunk at any time since they might be needed and called out, blah, blah and some more things about blah.
Back to the actual system. This system is so intricate and well designed that it can even identify whether pupils are dilating because of light differences, alcohol, or lying. Yes, a smart system definitely. Not only that, this system can tell who you are and what your mental and physical conditions are, it also has your history documented, and gives a very accurate presentation of your personality, so officers know what “buttons” to push to get cooperation. Oh, and it also has your DNA in there as well. All of these types of systems, because there is at least one of these systems in every city in the world, are linked. That means that generally everyone is logged and findable.
Mr. Mass Murderer, however, has bypassed all detection systems, even the old-fashioned humans-on-a-stake-out; he side-stepped forensics; and even managed to keep his DNA out of our hands. We cannot find him. It is as if we are looking for a shadow with a stupid eye scanner. And, in theory, the system should work so well. To you, I might seem conflicted about how I feel about the system, but that is because it sometimes is a helpful system but it has also been a pain. It is a pain that makes sure that I remember about it almost daily with fines that has costed me a lot of money and by also not gift wrapping and handing me every criminal I have searched for during the past few years. It has also caused criminals to become smarter. Now, they are much harder to find, since they think of smart ways to dodge the smart system and that makes it much more complicated to find them. There has even been cases where people have gotten into the system, which is guarded, and have abused it. This includes unauthorized people as well as authorized people, and they have caused a lot of harm. Just a quick side note, do not trust any type of technology and think that you are safe from it. Remember that. Back to the case...
Now, all of the murders of Mr. Mass Murderer have happened here in Jansonton, where the digital papers dangle from bridges and other structures the most. This city is big and living in it in the year 2030 is not a walk in fairyland, unless it is a fairyland that is dominated by an evil queen. And being a detective in this city is even more of a nightmare, especially if you have to hide the fact that you are addicted to the “poisonous substance” called alcohol, and that is what I am.
When I was younger, I always dreamed of being a detective and I was highly motivated to follow that career. I married at twenty and was blessed with a child at twenty-one. Unfortunately, when I was in the last year of detective training, I lost both my wife and daughter in an earthquake. That was when my drinking started. I drank so that I could forget how they looked at me when the ground crumbled beneath them and how I watched them being swallowed by the collapsed half of the building’s debris while I still stood firmly on the half that remained standing. I continued my training, and barely qualified as a detective, not because I was unskilled but rather because of my slight alcohol problem. This “problem” had me under the watchful eye of the police station chief from the moment that I was assigned as a detective. Since then, my alcohol ‘addiction’ has escalated and is still escalating. It is as if I cannot function properly without having swallowed at least two bottles of pure whisky. I once even felt as if I was on the verge of solving a case after gulping down a fourth bottle of whisky, but, alas, I was not and only solved that case two months after that night.
Anyway, back to the current case. This case has the name of ‘The Eraser’, which is what the murderer is being called. Don’t misunderstand. It is not the killer himself that gave himself that name, but rather the Jansonton Head Police Station chief, that same chief that likes to check up on me and my work, especially my progress on my work.
The reason for the name, according to the chief, is that the killer has been like the result of the use of a good eraser, meaning a blank spot. No information whatsoever. This is quite a good description of him, since none of the systems have any information on him, since we cannot search him because we don’t know his name or have a description of him. Not even the locations of where the murders take place can be used, since they happen all over the city! We have nothing. N-O-T-H-I-N-G...
This case has made my little, miniscule problem with alcohol a slight bit worse, I must confess, but I would go insane otherwise. How can a person leave not even one clue? How can a person commit crimes with a substance that analyzing systems identify as oxygen? Oxygen do not kill people. Right? So, how come every lab that we have contacted and sent blood samples to come back and say that a substance was found in their blood, this is the point you get excited, and then they say that the substance seemed to have a unique chemical formula but then was identified as oxygen? WE ARE HUMANS! WE NEED OXYGEN! Apologies for that, I have not slept in two days and I think that I am suffering from a hangover whilst also suffering from an overdose of alcohol. Oh, and sleep deprivation.
Luckily, I am not on this case alone, or else I would have probably drawn up my own list of information, hung it on a bridge and would have waited for the Eraser to come and relieve me from my misery. No, I am working on this case with two other detectives, namely Gary Janson, no, there is no relationship with the town name; and Zack Walker.
Gary is a very light-hearted, happy-go-lucky fellow. At least that is how the system describes him. He has more of a problem with fast foods, for which he has received more than one warning on. This eating habit of his has rewarded him with dull, brown eyes, made him slightly overweight and has also given him cravings for fast food even in the middle of important briefings.
Zack, on the other hand, is a true casanova and even has the face to match. Or as the system says: A good-looking man who is close to every logical-thinking, appreciative woman’s heart. Yes, the system might give him an elated feeling, but he does not show it, and don’t think that he does not use his charms. When we need to get in somewhere and it has something to do with getting past a woman or distracting her at least, we send him in. That is because, in terms of looks, Gary is the lowest on the scale, then it is me, and then it is Zack who is the highest. He is a ten, I am a four, and Gary is a one. Zack definitely dominates. But he does not even always have to talk to a woman to win her heart, but believe me he can charm a woman immensely with his rich vocabulary and seasoned talking, he sometimes just has to stand on the opposite side of the street.
You would probably like to know how this heart-breaker looks. Well, try to imagine this: black as the night hair that always looks clean and has a shine when a light it close by; his eyes are ice blue; his face... let’s just say that he is handsome; and he is rather tall with broad shoulders and he has slight muscles. Does he have any “bad habits”? No. Except for the fact that he seems to be able to handle smoking a cigar or cigarette if he needs to for an undercover job, which has me suspicious.
Oh, yes. And I am Steven Winterfield. A blonde-haired, green-eyed detective. That should be enough information.
Right now, we are sitting in one of the briefing rooms in the police station. The place smells like whisky, cold chips and burgers. Don’t judge us, we have not been able to go home in a few days. All of us have not been able to sleep at all. This fact shows on my face, on Gary’s face but not on Zack’s for some reason. Whilst my and Gary’s shirts are wrinkled, Zack’s looks as if it just came out of the closet, no fault.
Gary and I are pretty open about our bad habits between the three of us. I have not even bothered to throw the empty bottles away, nor has Gary bothered to throw the empty cartons away. I should be ashamed of myself though, because Zack looks like the one who is the most desperate to solve the case since he keeps on looking at the white board with the info on it, then he checks something on the computer, and then he checks the papers on the table. Sometimes it seems as if he has found a breakthrough, but then he just drops the papers with a sigh and goes back to the white board again. Gary and I, however, are only staring at the heap of papers on the table for at least the last few hours and have only moved slightly when it seems as if Zack is getting excited about something or when we refresh ourselves with our diminishing rations.
I decide to stretch out my legs and walk over to where Zack is standing. Everything floats around a bit, but I finally reach the figure that is clothed in a blue shirt and black pants with a brown strap that holds his holster that rests under his arm. He is the only one of us three that has such a holster. Gary and I prefer our guns at our sides.
“Find anything?” I ask as I gaze at the white board with the letters who are practicing their swimming.
“No.” Zack says and shifts his position so that he is a little further away from me.
“What is wrong?” I frown at him.
“You stink.” Zack answers with slight disdain.
“I think that we should find out why he is killing them.” I say as if I had not heard his remark.
“Maybe he also thinks that it is stupid to put your information out to anyone who wants to, or doesn’t want to, know.” Gary says from where he is still seated.
“Yeah, but you do not have go and kill them.” I answer over my shoulder.
“Perhaps we should take a rest from this room and go to a coffee shop.” Zack says and then he holds his breath and goes over to the window where he permits himself to breath again.
“That sounds good. Are you paying, Zack?” Gary asks.
“I will, like always, but only if you two go and fix yourselves at your home. I will not take such vile smelling, ill-dressed people to a place which I frequent.” Zack says sternly as he goes away from the window and gathers his things, a jacket and bunch of keys.
Zack walks out first and leaves the two of us to get rid of the cartons and bottles. We decide to throw them in the garbage can for now, knowing that we will have to write a report on it later if we are found out, and to lock the door so that the chief cannot get in without having to borrow the janitor’s key set.
“Zack seems a bit moody.” Gary says as he drops the last packet of cold chips in the dustbin.
“Yes, he does, but I would also be if I did not eat or drink anything for a few days and stood most of the time.” I answered as I advance to the door.
If I was out of here and the chief came at this exact moment, then Gary might get all of the blame for the mess, which I do not want. I cannot be on the street, jobless. I have already sold my car and family home just to be able to live and not suffer from alcohol depletion.
After he has locked the door to the room, Gary catches up with me who is quick marching down the hall.
“I think that Zack may be doing the most work on the case.” He says with a huffing and puffing. “He has been the first officer on every scene that involves the Eraser. He seemingly spends most of his intellect and thinking time on the case. He does not allow anything to distract him from the case. He is so focused.”
“Don’t praise him so. Perhaps he is just pretending.” I say even though I feel like all the evidence is there to support Gary’s statements.
Finally, we have left Gary’s apartment, where I also stay in order to save on costs. Even Zack. who seemed clean. went to his house and also cleaned up. He picked us up about thirty minutes after dropping us off and is now seemingly speeding towards our destination, but he is surprisingly obeying every traffic rule, even the speeding limit. His gaze is focused on the road, but his thoughts must to be turning around the case.
“Did you buy this car with last year’s bonus that you received?” Gary asks from the back seat.
Zack does not respond.
“Zack? Did you hear?” I ask and bump him on the shoulder thinking that he must be so lost in his thoughts that he failed to.
“I did hear him, but I think that solving the case is much more important than what I buy with the bonuses that I receive.” Zack answers moodily.
I glance back at Gary and shrug my shoulders before looking at the scenery passing by.
“Okay.” Gary says from the back. “Then, where are we on the case?”
Zack sighs as if he has to explain the same concept to two five-year-olds. Then, he leans forward and flips a switch that puts on the car’s self-driving. Turning around in his turnable driver’s seat, he looks over to me until I have also swung my chair around. Then, he begins with his rundown that he has repeated quite a few times in the past few days.
“Alright. First, the case’s name is ‘The Eraser’...”
“We know that, just give us the evidence.” I stress the word and don’t even try to hide the fact that I am fed up with how he starts the briefings every time.
“We need to know where we are coming from.” Zack says with a death glare directed at me. “So, the case’s name is ‘The Eraser’. It was called that because the criminal erases people from the earth and then erases their information on the papers that they drew up.”
“Why don’t we just wait for another murder, go to where the digital paper is and then catch him when he comes?” I interrupt.
“Actually, that is a good idea...” Gary begins, but is interrupted by Zack.
“No, it is not. The Eraser kills someone randomly and then erases their information. Do you know where almost every teenager in this city has put up their information? No, you don’t. Dumb and stupid idea. Don’t suggest such a thing again.”
“You are being very harsh.” I defend myself.
“You are being very drunk. Your eyes are barely focusing, so you are barely thinking clearly.” He cuts back.
“I don’t know how girls even like you.” I say and look at him with a challenging face.
“The girls that like me usually aren’t constantly under the influence of alcohol, so I do not have to lose my patience with them.” He equals my challenging look and makes me shrink back a bit, though it is barely noticeable.
Zack opens the armrest of the driver’s seat and takes out a case file.
“As I was saying,” he continues and flips through the file, “At every site that a murder has taken place, sometimes even multiple at one time, the victim, or victims, were found dead with no visible causes for the death.” His voice is calm again. “When their blood is sampled, the result sent back is that a substance was found in them that seemed to be different from what is supposed to be in any human’s blood, but upon closer inspection it turns out to be oxygen. Furthermore, we have nothing.” He looks first at Gary and then at me. “So, the thing is that we have generally no evidence,” he stresses the last word, “which is the reason that we are stuck and also the reason why we should think about the case and not about where we are going to order food or when we can have another sip of poison.”
With that, he turns back to the steering wheel and turns the self-driving mode off.
At the mention of it, I suddenly get thirsty. I take the bottle of alcohol, so-called poison, out of my jacket pocket and pull out the cork. As I lift the bottle to my lips, Zack suddenly steps on the brake and brings the car to a halt with a screeching sound from the wheels that echoes far and wide. Then, he grabs the bottle out of my hand, opens his door, gets out and marches around the front of the car to an overloaded garbage can. Once there, he turns the bottle upside down and empties its contents into the can before dropping the bottle in as well.
When he is back in the car, he turns to me.
“What did I just say? I cannot believe that I am stuck with an overstuffer and a drunkard.” He turns to the steering wheel again and puts both of his hands on the black leather. “No drinking or eating in this car.”
After he has stated those words, he starts driving again.
We finally reached the coffee shop, and the first thing I did after getting out of the car was take a gulp of my second, and last, bottle of whisky. But that was about five minutes ago. Currently, Gary and I are sitting at a small table and waiting for Zack who went to order us drinks and cake, but it is taking a bit longer since the girl at the counter seems to be flirting with Zack who is not just leaving but must be flirting back.
“Really annoying.” I say as I turn my back on the two.
“He has the looks, and he is very polite.” Gary says whilst still watching them. “You know, for the last four months, ever since the case was assigned us, you seem to have been very critical of him. Especially when he does what a casanova does, flirt.”
“But he has been very critical of me as well since the case has started. Almost every suggestion that I have made to try and catch the murderer, he has shot down.” I cast another glance over my shoulder at the two at the counter before turning back to Gary.
“He has given evidence to support his statements about why your suggestions wouldn’t work.” Gary twiddles his thumbs.
“But Gary, you know what will happen if we do not solve this case quickly. Remember that it is not Zack who will lose his job, it is you and I. We will be on the street. And he did not give evidence, he gave lousy excuses.” I look over my shoulder again, just in time to see Zack accept a piece of paper from the girl and say a last few words before strolling over to us.
“Her number?” I ask as he sits down in the unoccupied, third chair.
“Yes, of course.” He answers and slips the paper into his shirt pocket.
“If we are not allowed to fill our thoughts with food and alcohol, why are you allowing yourself to fill your thoughts with girls?”
“You know,” Zack leans closer and rests on his forearms, “I can block out a girl, unlike how you can’t block out alcohol. Besides, I asked a few strategic questions about the case, but she couldn’t give me any information.”
“So you took her number instead?”
“Do you have a problem with me, or something?” Zack locks eyes with me. “If you perhaps forgot, we have to solve this quickly.” He pauses and then continues. “Ah, that must be the problem, you are scared that you will lose your job.”
I decide to say nothing and rather stare out of the window at the fancy car standing parked there, Zack’s car.
“I thought you said that you frequent this place?” I hear Gary’s question.
“I do.” Is the answer.
“Then doesn’t that girl know you?” These words from Gary draws my attention and I look over at Zack for his reaction.
“No, she does not. She is standing in for her sister who is on sick leave for a month. She contracted pneumonia.” Zack informs us.
“She gave you that much information?” I ask with a raised eyebrow.
“Yes, she did.”
We step out of the coffee shop. I have my jacket slung over my shoulder; Gary is helping himself to the extra slice of cake that Zack had bought for him at his request; and Zack is busy searching for his car keys in the bunch that he is holding.
At the car, we are just about to get in when a young girl with red hair appears on the other side of the street and calls out to Zack. Zack looks up at her and watches as she crosses the street, then he throws his jacket into the car and waits for her to make the rest of the way over to us.
“Zack, I want to talk to you about...” She begins.
“Let’s talk over there.” He says.
Zack slams the car door, takes the girl around her shoulders and leads her away, putting enough distance between them and us so that we cannot hear what they are saying.
“Who is that?” My question is directed at Gary.
“I don’t know. It must be a girlfriend of his.” Gary says and then ducks into the car to wait there.
“I don’t know. Why did he take her to the side? Also, she seems like she might still be sixteen, perhaps eighteen. He likes girls in their twenties, doesn’t he?” I say with my eyes on the two.
Zack is seeing her off. He pushes her away gently, but she rises to her tip-toes and kisses him. I watch as Zack wraps his arms around her. I wait for them to break their embrace for a few seconds, but then I look away to the top of a nearby skyscraper. I am feeling uncomfortable with them kissing there on the corner of a street, but I also feel awkward watching them kiss.
I don’t notice that the embrace had been broken until Zack plucks open his door and also ducks into the car.
I first look at where they were standing, but the girl has disappeared, and then I also get into the car.
“You seem sour for someone who has just kissed a good-looking girl.” I remark.
Zack doesn’t answer and rather looks back so that he can successfully navigate the reversing. Then, he speeds forward, still wordless.
The heated argument has been going on for several minutes.
“I say we try the stake out. What can go wrong?” I say with a raised voice.
“We can miss the chance to prevent a murder.” Zack says with raging eyes but a controlled voice.
Gary is sitting on one of Zack’s expensive couches and is watching us silently.
“We haven’t been able to prevent any one of the murders, and it is not like we have a tip about where one is going to happen.” I glare at him.
“You know what?” Zack turns away and grabs his coat from the couch on which Gary is sitting. “I have a date to get to. As much as I would not want you to at this moment, would you lock up when the two of you leave?” He asks and throws the keys at me from where he is now standing at the door.
I don’t even attempt to catch them, a bad idea because they hit me squarely on the nose, but Zack does not care. He leaves the house and slams the door behind him.
As soon as Zack’s car disappears out of hearing distance, I grab my jacket and the two, new bottles of whisky from the coffee table. Then, I determinedly walk to the door.
“Where are you going?” Gary asks.
“I am going to have a stake out. If you leave, lock the door behind you.” I say and point at the keys lying on the floor.
I caught the bus to the bridge under which I know hang many teenagers’ info papers. Finally, I was following my own plan. I will wait here, and perhaps the Eraser will come here. Even if he does not commit a murder tonight, I can be on the lookout for anyone suspicious who might come here. Chances are though that he will commit a murder tonight, because he usually commits one every four days, and tonight is the fourth night since the last murder that was committed by him.
The night is cold, and the whisky and jacket are barely keeping me warm. I look around the road that has been abandoned for the night. Nothing has happened, nor have I seen someone since I got here. This might be a stupid idea, and totally fruitless, but at least I was following one of my plans that Zack had shot down.
Since this case started, Zack seemed to have changed. For me, he was always pleasurable to be around, but now I despise the sight of him. But perhaps it has nothing to do with him, but with me. Or perhaps he has been upset with this case since his youngest cousin was the first victim of the Eraser.
What am I thinking about? It must be this headache that has my thoughts drifting to such things. Many people have been hurt by the Eraser’s actions. Many have been changed by them.
To distract me from more of these types of thoughts, I wander toward the digital papers hanging from the bridge’s belly. I casually look through some of them and read some of the information on a few of them. Then, I stop at a particular one as I recognize the face in the photo that is also attached. It is the same girl as the one whom Zack had kissed a few hours before, the red haired one. Interesting. Perhaps she was still looking for love or have not come to take off the info yet. I read through some of the facts that she had decided to list:
I like to walk in old, abandoned factories. It gives me a sense of mystery and excitement.
I like men who are older than me. Especially men in their early thirties.
I laugh dryly as I think about how Zack fits into that last statement.
“You seem to have found your Romeo,” I look up at her name again, “Fiona Blue.”
As I smirk and search for where I was, a jolt runs through me as I hear a night piercing scream.
My police instincts kick in and I immediately run out from under the bridge. The sound has already stopped, but in those few seconds I knew that it came from nearby and that it came from a terrified girl. She must need help, but what if I reach her too late?
In a quick run, I follow the invisible path that the scream had followed to reach me. It originated in a nearby factory that stood dark and seemed empty. I jump through a broken window and come to a halt at the open door that leads into a hallway. There, I reach for my gun at my side and ensure that it will be ready to fire when I need to shoot.
Glancing around the door frame, I look down the hallway. There is no one. I step out and quietly, but swiftly, make my way down the passage. After having passed two doors, I begin hearing a gasping sound of someone who can’t breath and it draws me closer. I pass another door and then look into the one that follows it. On the floor, there is a teenage girl, her familiar features and red hair helps me to identify her at once.
“What happened?” I ask as I reach her.
“He... said that... he is the... Era...ser.” She stammers with eyes half closed and pleading for my help.
I look at her. She is shivering and seems to be in pain as she struggles to find a comfortable way to lie still. I don’t know what the Eraser uses for his killing, but I know that it is definitely not oxygen. Nevertheless, I cannot allow this girl to die from the substance without at least trying to help her. I could do nothing for my wife and daughter, but maybe I can do something for this girl.
Just as I move closer to start compressing her chest, she exhales and does not try to take another breath. Her body’s movements still and the room feels empty since she has left the land of the living. Slowly, I stand up and gaze down at her pretty, youthful face. Some parent is going to miss their beautiful daughter, and I am going to have a very long night of drinking to try and forget this sight.
I feel like sinking down to the floor and beginning my drinking session, but then I remember that the Eraser has a step following the murder of someone, he erases their digital paper. Lucky for me, I saw hers earlier and can reach it in a very short time. The Eraser might already be there, but I might be in time to catch him red-handed.
I take to my heels and race back the way that I had came. Fleeting thoughts of whether or not I should call for backup come and go. No one is going to get here in time. I have to catch him, then I will report the murder, and then I will ask for backup to come and take him away, since I do not have a car here.
I slow down as I get nearer and nearer to the bridge. My gun is still drawn and I now take it in both of my hands. The Eraser is said to be dangerous, I will have to be careful. I am a bit under the influence and it is making the road and buildings sway, so I should definitely be careful.
I am finally in sight of the bridge. I can make out a figure at the particular digital paper in the light that his car’s lights are throwing. He is tall and seems muscular, and he also has a gun that rests in a holster under his arm. I must beware of that. Not under any circumstance should he draw his gun.
I am now close to the car and I glance at the number plate. Suddenly, I freeze and drop my arms. It is Zack’s car. And that is Zack over there erasing the info. Harsh realization sets in. I will have to shoot Zack if he makes an attempt to get away or if he tries to kill me. How could this have happened? What is his motive?
I edge around the car and glance in at the driver’s seat’s open door. On the passenger seat, there is an empty vial and a syringe. I look back at Zack. He is still busy wiping clean the board.
“Raise your hands, Eraser.” I say and rise to my full height.
Zack stops wiping and slowly turns around.
“Steven? Is that you?” He asks with unbelief.
“Yes, it is.”
“What are you doing here?” He drops the cloth, that he was using, to the ground.
“I came here on a stake out, heard a scream, found a girl, and then came back here in an attempt to find the Eraser. And I did.”
“No, you are having a drunken vision.” He says and takes out his police radio. “J.H.P.S.O. Zack Walker reporting a drunken officer at Fellow’s Bridge. He has a gun aimed at me.”
I allow him to send his message, knowing that he is, with his call, sending officers this way in hot pursuit.
“You are in trouble.” He says and smirks.
“I don’t think so, but stay right there.” I smirk back.
Within five minutes, two cars with seven officers along with the chief arrive. The officers draw their guns immediately and aim at me right after they have jumped out of the cars.
“What is going on?” The chief asks and glares at me.
“Chief, Steven came here and suddenly drew a gun on me. I...”
“Sir,” I interrupt, “this is the Eraser.”
My brief words send shock waves through the officers and chief, but Zack remains calm.
“He has been saying that since he drew his gun, chief.” Zack looks as if he is not bothered at all.
“I can prove it.” This has a confused look from Zack focused on me and a raised eyebrow from the chief. “He drove his car here, probably parked it in front of the factory, got out with the girl, entered the factory, injected her with whatever was in the vial that is on his passenger seat, exited the building, came here and started to erase her.”
“You have no..,” Zack begins.
“Your car is going to prove it, Zack. It has a burglar camera in the front, which will especially prove how you were wiping her info, and the vial is on your car seat along with the syringe and it might show what exactly killed all of the victims.” I state frankly.
“Congratulations, Detective Winterfield.” The chief slaps me on the back. “It was Zack. His car camera history and the vial proved it. We even put him in the electric chair and he spoke freely about his misdeeds, his motive, and his method.”
“What did he say, sir?” I ask with interest.
“Well, where would you like me to begin?” He smiles openly.
“At what his motive was, then his method. I don’t have to know about how he exterminated every single teenager. Two-hundred people is a lot.”
“Very well. He said that his cousin, the first victim, followed the trend of putting information out for everyone to see. He tried to get her to stop doing that, but he was unsuccessful in convincing her. Therefore, he murdered her. After she was dead, he began his quest to exterminate the rest of the trend followers. As you and I know, the practice has almost stopped, but some still do it, so he was nearing his goal. Luckily, we stopped him.” The chief takes a breath. “As for his method, he is very smart and he discovered a chemical compound in a lab experiment while he was still in school. He decided to keep the compound’s formula which causes a human’s blood to thicken and thus causes almost all activity in the body to stop. As time passes, the blood becomes normal again, but the victim is already dead.”
“And then it is identified as oxygen?” I ask when the chief stops talking.
“No, no. You see, Zack was aware of where each sample was heading, so he went to the places personally, you know how fast travel is these days, and tampered with the scanning of the vials and ensured that the machines will always read it as oxygen even though the chemical’s structure is different from oxygen. We received that faulty analysis.”
“And I am guessing that we were unable to find the Eraser on the system or his DNA, because Zack was allowed to be on the scenes.”
“Yes. If you remember all of the briefings we had, I usually informed you and Gary that Zack was already on the scene. He was always briefed first and got there first, because we believed him to be the most competent detective of you three.”
“He actually was.” I take a moment to process. “No wonder he always shot down my ideas that we could have used to catch the Eraser.”
“Yes. I am guessing that if he had reached his goal, the Eraser would have just faded out of existence and he would have continued his job.”
“If we did not abandon camera systems, we might have found him on the scenes.” I remark.
“Yes, but you know that cameras can also be tampered with. But we are launching a project to install camera systems.”
“But how did he go to work to get the victims apart from others so that he could inject them?” I look at the chief in expectation.
“Well, he usually either went to the places that they listed as where they hang out a lot, or he made friends with them and then invited them to go to the types of places that they liked to go to, like the last girl liked old, abandoned factories, and that is exactly where he took her.”
There is some silence and then I break it.
“What now, sir?”
“I have a new assignment for you and Gary.”
Chapter 19: One’s Duty and Role (The Chronicles of Time)
His mind was in turmoil and turned upside down–driven crazy to the utmost! In his palms carried her fragile soul. It could only mean one thing:
She was drifting away.
No matter how much power he’ll have to spend, he’ll bring her back. For sure! Otherwise…he couldn’t bear the pain anymore…
It wasn’t too late to guide her soul back to its body. Instead of crying and shouting at it to go back, he poured his mana into it. Streams of light shackled the small luminescent orb. It pried and poked, then they were slowly absorbed into it.
In the old times there was a practice that consisted of combining one’s magic with another’s soul. Using the mana that was absorbed, breaking into the soul’s consciousness was an easy feat. It was often used to wake up a hazy soul that had lost its way and required a small push to find its way back onto the path of the afterlife.
But he didn’t have that purpose. Such a spell used for guiding a soul back to its body? It’s forbidden!
Who could stop him anyways? The times he casted it in the past was countless! Besides, all others could do was talk crap, who would dare fight against him? Even an army of wizards from the magic tower couldn’t restrain him when his practice was exposed. Who would have the power to annihilate him?
Finally, he arrived at the core. The streams of mana contained his consciousness, so he controlled it as he pleased. He probed the core, then very carefully, entered the light.
A tall door stood in front of him when he opened his eyes. Black lines formed on his face and his already pale face grew even more pale–but not from exhaustion.
‘W-why is she here out of all places?!’
This wasn’t the friendship Himari had expected. She did consider the fact that the friendship could go awry and some knives would be exchanged, but who would’ve thought that every time they bumped into each other, not knives, but sharp swords would be thrown! And rocks! And pencils!!
Himari hoped that they would get along, and they did.
Aoko-san was just not as easy to befriend as she thought. Sure, they officially became friends now, but most of the time, it didn’t feel like they were. She would treat her coldly. Himari looked at this attitude positively, thinking that since Aoko-san was able to show such a behavior towards her, it meant that she trusted her.
It was all well until she found out about Himari’s ‘little crush’. And that was fast.
From other’s point of view, it was a conspicuous fact that Tsukasa-kun and Himari got along well. Maybe too well. The relationship the two shared seemed to be more than that of friends. It was only Himari who was blinded and couldn’t see where this was going. Tsukasa-kun was well-known throughout the first-years for his friendly disposition. Once he started to accompany Himari, his reputation rocketed through the roof. Rumors about them were scattered widely, good and bad. However, Himari wasn’t cognizant of such a thing.
But Aoko-san was.
She found it funny just how clueless her new friend was. Taking advantage of her slow mind, she would often make rude comments about just how brainless she was. And she was the so-called genius? Ha! It was just too amusing.
“Go bother that boyfriend of yours.” She would interrupt without hesitation. “I’m busy.”
“What? He doesn’t want you anymore?” She would then laugh and turn away briskly. Then, she would step to the side as a pencil flew her way.
“I thought we were friends!”
“Can’t friends discuss romance?”
“Yes, but you’re not discussing it with me. You’re just making fun of me.” Himari would retort.
Then they would encounter each other again and the same situation would play out again. Tsukasa-kun, aware of how keen Aoko-san was, soon realized that she wasn’t the person she made others think she was. Cold, harsh, and ruthless. Those are the true words that she was to be described as. She wasn’t a bad influence, nor was she a good one either. So he couldn’t do anything but just observe.
“Himari.” Himari said, not looking up from her book.
He closed his eyes. “Aik–”
“Himari.” She reiterated firmly.
He tightened his smile. “Aikawa.”
Himari turned away from him, continuing to flip through her book. Tsukasa-kun sighed. He had no choice but to give in. “Fine. H-Himari-chan.”
She grinned, turning her head back slightly. “That works fine as well.”
“...I have something to say.”
She cocked her head. “Go on.”
“Don’t you think that…Aoko-san is a bit odd?”
She paused, pursing her lips then perched her chin on her hand with a thoughtful look on her face. “Hmm…I did think that she was odd,” he leaned in closer to listen to her opinion, “but…I think that she’s a good person at heart.”
She was like a butterfly, circling on top of a spider’s web. Not even hesitating to dive into it. Now that she got herself tangled up in its webs…could she get out of it?
Tsukasa-kun couldn’t help but worry. He hoped that the spider wasn’t bloodthirsty.
Natsumi’s ears perked up. For some reason, she could feel a familiar presence outside of the room. Wait…. Since when was she able to feel other people’s presence?! She turned to see that the three paid no mind to it at all. But…how was she to get the door open without attracting their attention?
While Natsumi hacked through her brain for a solution, the other three were happily immersed in their subject of defeating the Demon King.
“That no-good emperor is planning on deploying soldiers to the western border to eradicate the demons that started to appear around there.” ‘Cassius’ said.
“Although they’re all low-leveled, demons showing up at the western border is unheard of.” Mikhael drank from his cup intently. “It could be that the Demon King has started to awaken, causing a commotion amongst the demons. This could just be the beginning. Who knows what sort of stronger demons would reveal themselves in the future?”
The saintess nodded her head in agreement. “Even if the emperor doesn’t command us to move, we’ll have to either way–for the people’s sake.”
The three huddled closer and their moods turned somber. They remained silent until the saintess took in a deep breath and opened her mouth, “In preparation for that time, I need to make sure that I gain control of the Holy Empire.”
Although it’s called an empire, it was just made out of numerous sects of different varieties, scattered across the Lucia ‘empire’. Despite it being formed by just sects, the Holy Empire wielded a large influence over the people, and its wealth amassed throughout time. Thus, earning its name. Every ten years, the sects would each choose their own saint. The chosen ones then were to ‘compete’ for fame and whichever contestant won would be named ‘saintess’. Of course, they won’t succeed that title completely until the previous saint relinquishes their title and hands it over.
There were exceptions, of course. For example, if the candidate had strong holy power, they would immediately be placed in the position of a saint and trained. Once selected, they would be the only saint, regardless if there was already someone sitting on that seat.
Mikhael sighed; aggrieved, “The whole matter is a death omen. An unfavorable premonition.”
‘Cassius’ opened his palms then closed them. Small flames danced then were quickly extinguished, then revived again, then snuffed out. “Why should we care about the people?”
The saintess began to answer, “Because–”
“Because we’re powerful?” ‘Cassius’ interrupted with a sneer, killing off the flame in his hands abruptly. His tone turned harshly mocking. “Because we’re born here? Because we have a duty? An obligation? Tell me,” he turned to the others and propped one of his arms up, leaning on his left leg, “were we born to be heroes? Were we born so that we should play the role of ‘protector’ in order to shield the people?”
“Cassius,” the saintess groaned. But he continued on, madly.
“I didn’t ask to be respected. Sure, having people bow to you, offer themselves up for you, and be at your service is nice. But there are other ways to make them submit to you–to make them fear you.”
“Cassius…I don’t want to rule people by using fear.”
He looked at her frown and his eyes turned cold. Deprived of all light. “Then have you seen the people? And I’m not talking about the people in the Holy Empire,” she clamped her mouth shut, “I’m talking about the common people. Not those cheerful ones that you’ve been exposed to, but the ones that are just so filthy inside and out that you feel revolted from one glance. The people who murdered. The people who destroyed another’s lives. The people who use hate as a reason to live. Countless! Open your eyes! Not everyone is a good person. Not everyone will bow down and accept morality and give into the light. Not everyone deserves to live.”
As he talked his hands waved around relentlessly as if it’ll express his frustration.
With much hesitation, Mikhael slowly nodded his head to agree. “Saintess…you know, I’ve been sent to observe the aftermath of a battle. War is not a pretty thing. Disputes over territory are not a pretty thing. And yet, the people that want us to protect them are the most vile and dirtiest of them all. They’re the ones that start all this suffering, and sit back and watch as their own people are devoured and dyed in black.”
‘Cassius’ took over, allowing the saintess no opportunities to speak. “They covet beauty, they covet riches. But they can’t have them. Humans are bound to fall! Only the strong and pure can stand on their feet. There is not a single person that hasn't done anything wrong in their life. You say that those people are ‘weak’ and that they need us, but what about yourself? Those people will trample on you when you’ve fallen. They’ll spit on you; like you’re dirt. Just because you’re sitting high up currently, they’ll eventually drag you down and defile you at their own pleasure and satisfaction.
“We can protect them from harm now, but when you need a hand, will they stretch theirs out for you? They can shower you with praises, with flowers, with money right now. But that’s because they want something from you. If you weren’t a saintess, would they even smile at you? If you were a beggar, would they toss you a coin? Think about it. These people that you want to protect, are they worth it?!”
The saintess fell silent and absorbed his words. He enunciated every word clearly and they rang through her mind, traveled down to her chest, then planted a seed in her heart. His words were true. Humans were born selfish. Born greedy. There will always be people praying for her downfall so they can snatch her luxury for themselves.
“...you’re right.” She said, raising her head. Her voice trembled then gradually became more firm. “You’re right! Every. Single. Word. You. Said… Is right! But I choose to believe in my people. I believe that no matter how much I’ve fallen, they will be there for me. It doesn’t matter if it’s a thousand, or a hundred, or even just one! I know–you two will always be there, and I hope that it stays that way. However, you don’t need my power. You two can defend yourselves just fine. At the very most, I want to be able to protect someone that needs me. That way…I know that I’m of use…”
Now it was the other’s turn to be speechless. Even Natsumi pulled herself into the deep conversation without herself being aware. The saintess didn’t just stop there. It was like she was a volcano, triggered by ’Cassius’s explosive display, she was also nudged to explode as well.
“So what if I was sheltered for years? Don’t forget, we all used to be children from the streets–abandoned. Do you think that I don’t know the word ‘suffering’?! Do you think that I’m so ignorant?! That I became spoiled and pampered and forgot about the difficulties of life due to being exposed to some luxury?!”
“No that’s not–!”
“I know that there are people out there that have noble hearts. I also know that there are people out there that are stained black! But in evil, there is good.” Her arms flung wildly as she spoke fervently. “So what if people won’t treat me nicely, pamper me, or toss me a coin when I’m no longer saintess? I’ll do what I can for them! As long as the intention was genuine, good will always conquer evil. Kindness will always be repaid. What’s wrong with hoping that people will change their ways? As long as I can help them, whether I’ll be kicked in the mud or not, is something that the future me has to worry about!
“The present is the present; I’ll do what I can at the moment to relieve their burden.” She held a fist to her chest and stood up, stoically. “To let them know that all they’ve spent on me wasn’t for naught. To let them know that I’m not just a gentle saintess who only knows to sit there like a porcelain doll! To let them know the reason why I’m saintess–to protect them!”
She was mesmerizing. Brilliant. Like the sun. She was out of reach, flying higher and higher, being swept away by the wind, swept off her feet. ‘Cassius’ looked down at his hands. Her ending was obvious. Such a bright person, filled with positivity and her optimistic nature…just how many others like her are out there? She shined so dazzlingly that he couldn’t bear to look.
If she had seen what he had seen with his very eyes…would she still think the same? But she was stubborn. Determined. Obstinate. He knew, and knew very clearly what would happen to her. People won’t change. They can’t change. And at that moment, he wished that she would never change.
A warm hand snapped her out of her concentration.
A faint smile rested on his lips. “That saintess… she was naive. Stupid. And a hopeless person.”
She saw Yuu standing next to her. His hair was long like the day she met him. It made him look exactly like ‘Cassius’, but his face was younger. She took his hand and grasped onto it. Consumed by curiosity she asked, “...that saintess…what happened to her afterwards?”
#romance #novel #fiction #fantasy
Chapter 18: Reconciliation (?) (The Chronicles of Time)
Himari reached her hand towards him, then she quickly shrank back when he turned around abruptly. “What’s wrong?”
“...don’t you think that Kaneko-kun and Izanami have been sick for too long?”
It was odd and he couldn’t put his finger on it. Just who would get sick for ten days? From what he knew of them, they seemed to be pretty strong people. Besides, it was too much of a coincidence for both of them to be sick for this long. It could be possible that since they were both ill, they took care of each other so germs were passed back and forth; but shouldn’t they be showing signs of improving despite that?
“T-they’re getting better!” Himari couldn’t remember how many times she’s said that line.
He raised an eyebrow then looked away. “Alright, I really hope they are.”
Like another weight adding onto her shoulders, she lowered her head. “...yeah.”
It couldn’t be helped. The one he liked was Natsumi after all. Of course he was going to worry–it made sense. However, she was also concerned. It has been ten days since Natsumi fell asleep. Yuu assured her that he had everything under control but…does he? It has been a while since he had a foot outside his room. Forget stepping out of his room, they haven’t even heard his voice! His presence just completely vanished!
Indeed, his skills were not to be questioned. It may, possibly, be a matter of time. If she opened the door, there was a high chance that she would see Yuu napping without a care in the world while she was busy chasing her crush and worrying endlessly!
“I’m sure they’ll be back in no time!” Himari said, her hands forming fists raised in front of her. “Yeah!”
He looked askance at her, but it quickly faded away with a smile in its place. For some reason their positions reversed and it was his turn to assure her. “Yes, I’m sure.”
The wind faced them, her hair danced wildly but beautifully behind her. The two walked side by side. Every morning he would arrive on time and wait for her to come out and glance behind her before the door closed to see nothing but an empty hallway. Despite noticing that, she would just greet him with joy and accompany him on the way to school. The dream would end when they parted at the end of the day.
“Tsukasa-kun…will...I mean, are you free this Saturday?”
“Hm?” He put a hand to his chin and seemed to be in thought. “Let’s see…” he saw her squirm with anticipation and chuckled inwardly, “I think I am free.”
“Really?” Himari looked up instantly with a gleam in her eyes. “T-then…”
“Actually, I think I do have an appointment that day…” Tsukasa-kun turned his head slightly away from her and focused his sight on her from the corner of his eyes, a smirk playing on his lips.
Himari’s gaze fell and, unconsciously, gripped onto the strap of her bag. “Oh…it’s fine if you can’t.”
“Oh wait! Nope, my schedule is clear!”
She kept falling for his words, believing that he was sincere, but the more he tricked her, the more she had doubts. Was he playing her? “Anyways, if you’re free then meet me at the station at eleven! If you can, o-of course.”
Tsukasa-kun couldn’t help but snicker while she shot him a look laced with suspicion.
They both groaned the moment they saw each other, not even bothering to hide their displeasure.
“It seems that you’re not going to play that ‘nice girl’ role as usual.” Himari crossed her arms. In front of her, Aoko-san put a hand to her hips while holding onto a pile of papers.
“I don’t have time to deal with your sarcasm.” She sighed heavily then took a step to leave. “What?”
Himari blocked her and said, “Um…I…”
Aoko-san tilted her head and tapped her hips impatiently. “What is it? If you don’t have anything good to say, move aside. I have to get these documents completed by the end of the day.”
Himari conceded and stepped to the side. Aoko-san walked past her, her hands underneath the tower of paper. But then…
Aoko-san halted then sighed. “What?”
“I…before I said that you’re not that bad.” Himari closed her eyes, her back facing her. “I…really mean that. If possible, we can be friends…?”
She blinked, as if she couldn’t understand what Himari was rambling on about. It was a stupid proposal. Why would she even be friends with her? With someone whom their friend is her friend is her rival in love? In fact, since she and Natsumi were best friends, why would she even ask to be friends with someone who hurt an important person to her?
“...I’m afraid I don’t understand your intentions.” She casted a suspicious glance at Himari's way.
“I…I really don’t want to regard you as an enemy,” Himari said truthfully, spinning around. “At any rate, I’d prefer to not treat anyone rudely. Let’s face it, we’ll be in the same school until we graduate. Shouldn’t we just live high school happily and blissfully? Is a boy really worth all the trouble?”
“...” Aoko-san took a deep, heavy breath then said, “You’re right. A boy is not worth all that trouble.”
“But that’s your view. Not mine. However…” she glanced at Himari’s downcasted expression. “I think that being friends…is fine. Don’t worry, I won’t try anything on Izanami-san. I don’t know what took over me before, but…I will say this: if I truly liked Kaneko-kun, I shouldn’t have hurt those around him.”
Her blazing eyes filled Himari with restless ardor in her heart. She continued on, “I’m sorry for spiking the chocolate with theobromine.”
“Oh, that’s forgiven–”
“Also for smothering glue over your seat. And adding tons of salt to your water. And for stealing your pens.”
Himari was speechless. Just how much did she do behind her back?! “Hold on, just me? It makes it seem as if you have a grudge on me instead of Natsumi!”
Aoko-san shrugged. “You were easier to target.”
Himari flared up. “What?”
Aoko-san left with no response.
“Hey!” Himari ran after her then stopped. The distance between them was just too big. “T-that means we’re friends now…right?”
She paused then continued to walk on. “...think whatever you want.”
Himari’s mouth curved and her eyes squinted into crescents. “Alright!”
Behind her, she could hear the girl’s cheery tone. There was a small tug on her lips but she pushed it down. “Really…she’s so stupid.”
Natsumi spun around. Where did Yuu’s voice come from? It couldn’t be from ‘Cassius’ because he was still happily chatting away with the others. Unless it’s telepathy?
“Yuu?” She called out. “Where are you?”
“Go back! Don’t leave on your own. Go back!”
“What?” She became puzzled. He continued to shout the same words to the point where his voice sounded a bit hoarse. But his voice sounded so pained and aggrieved that she couldn’t help but try and console him. “Yuu? Are you alright?”
“Please…don’t leave again.”
“Yuu? I’m not going anywhere though?”
But he couldn’t hear her no matter what she said.
“I won’t…I won’t tease you anymore. So please…!”
To think that she would see the day when Yuu would be begging. She felt so satisfied, but it wasn’t the right time to act smug. When she meets up with him later, she’ll be sure to brag it off in front of him, she thought.
‘But getting out of here is the first priority!’
His voice disappeared. Suddenly, she felt a chill sliding down her back.
“Yuu? Are you there?”
Something must’ve happened. Even though he couldn’t hear her, to Natsumi, just the sound of his voice was enough. It was enough to know that she wasn’t alone. Knowing Yuu, although he could be overly obnoxious, he still had a good heart. If he wanted to do something, he’d even pull down the heavens and use any means to achieve it. And now, he wanted to seek her out. Of course he would accomplish that.
Trusting him, she remained in place. ‘Yuu will find me! For sure!’
But the only thing she really trusted was his powers. How could anything go wrong with Yuu’s powers? He’s a powerful magician and he boasted of it everyday! It was about time his powers came in handy and proved its worth. The best option was to wait. There was a chance that she could mess things up even more.
With a head buried in her knees, she closed her eyes, drowning in the sound of the lively conversation.
#novel #fiction #romance