The Kaleidoscope City

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by ERode, Mar 7, 2015.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. [​IMG]

    It was still night when Katsuo walked out of his family’s house, breathing in the cold, suburban air. A few weeks back, he would have still been sleepy and tired and delusional, but now, he was used to waking up so early in the morning. In the distance, he could still see the lights of the Kaleidoscope City, brimming with liveliness even in the unholy hours of the night. It was like a dome, a radiant aura that pushed away the darkness. A pretty gem, if only from afar. He looked at the starry winter night above him, at the crescent moon that had its own radiance, and sighed.

    Yeah, he still preferred this nightscape the most.

    The young man walked down the winding mountain road until he reached a bus stop. There was no bus to get onto though, the route having long been abandoned by the public transportation officials who oversaw such things. Instead, it served as a parking place for his bike, a three year old road bicycle with an aluminum frame and a turquoise color scheme. Not exactly the coolest-looking thing, but it did its job. Just like him, perhaps. Unlocking the chains, he hitched himself up onto the bike and began to cycle down the path. Ever since he could remember, Katsuo had gone down that mountain path, and, despite the cracks and bumps in the pavement, it was a smooth ride all the way. He reached the mountain base in twenty minutes, pedalled down a long, lonely road for another thirty minutes, and finally stopped at the train station.


    The day was breaking now, a warm orange glow emanating from the horizon. He took in that sight, basking in the morning, and breathing in the fresh, empty air. The rising sun made the trains of the terminal station look like long, black snakes, waiting for sunlight to warm up their cold blood. A peculiar analogy and, if he was younger, a frightening one. But now, the boy was a man, and he could consider the contrast between light and dark to be something beautiful as well.

    Well, no, not beautiful. ‘Interesting’ would be a better term to use.

    Walking into the station and flicking out his pass for the attendant to see, Katsuo nodded at a few familiar faces who had already made themselves at home in the train. There was his classmate from elementary school, now a convenience store worker in the Kaleidoscope City. There was his guitar teacher, still strumming chords as a backup guitarist. There was his middle school crush, now pursuing her dreams as a production assistant in some studio. Ah, times passed so easily, didn’t it?

    He tightened the scarf around his neck. Though it was a clear, sunny day, it was still winter, and the air was cold, now that his body was no longer warmed by exercise. Finding corner to sit in, Katsuo crossed his arms, closed his eyes, and took a small nap. It would still be an hour before the train entered the seaside city of lights, after all. He could afford to make up for lost hours.


    Katsuo woke up at morning, his phone alarm buzzing in the pocket of his jacket. It was 8AM now, and the sun was up, shedding natural light on the electric city. Through the windows of the train, he could see the rustic buildings of Eurotown down below, peaked roofs that were bright orange. As usual, the ports of the Kaleidoscope City was busy, tankers and cargo ships going in and out, their horns blasting out every once in a while. He had been overwhelmed by the noise before, but now, they served to keep him awake and aware of his location. After all, the louder the ship horns were, the closer you were to the ocean.

    The train slowed, reaching one of its stations. An advertisement blocked his view of the ocean, and, as the masses shifted on and off the railway cars, the young man smiled.

    It was nice to be back.


    Katsuo Kasane
    Age: 21
    A straightforward man who lacks direction.
    Earnest, bordering naivety.
    Has yet to pursue a post-secondary education.

    A part-timer at a book store.
    Goes home for the weekends.
    Stays at a friend's place during the week.
    Handles most of the cooking.
    Loves to sing and bike.

    • Love Love x 1
  2. It was a good thing that Prism Station was so crowded that morning; it was unlikely that Risa would have had the stability to walk to the doors without the aid of the crowd pushing her along and - at some points - holding her upright as she boarded the train.

    As the train pulled away, the inertia shook the dark haired girl back to wakefulness. Well, closer to it. Blinking her bleary eyes, she reached up with one fist to rub them and immediately regretted the decision as her contact slipped, flashing a hellish red in one eye as she stared dumbly at the blue lens stuck to the heel of her hand. It only took her half a second to register what had happened, but putting the contact back in took a bit longer. Reaching upwards to grab a handle, she had to fumble among a sea of other hands before she found one to steady herself on, and stabilize her stance as she maneuvered the plastic piece. Once she accomplished this, however, her eyes were an odd shade of purple again, and clouded with sleep almost immediately.

    She'd started wearing coloured lenses almost immediately upon her arrival in the human world several years ago. The endeavour had been meant to help her blend in, but the result of putting blue lenses over red irises was an equally unusual shade of purple. However, since people who noticed this colour seemed to react with less fear than when she had red eyes, Risa still counted it as an improvement.

    It had taken her a while, initially, to adapt to life in this world. At first, she'd been so absorbed in her mission, she hadn't had time to even notice something like human eye colours. Young by human standards, and definitely a child by demon standards, she'd had the naive expectation that her quarry would be nearby, and that she would find them right away. She spent whole days roaming the streets, stalking anyone who seemed like they could be her target. It took her over a year to cool down and adjust to playing a long game. A casual observer would be pressed to believe the intensive youth staring into crowds from the gutter, and the polo-shirt-uniform-wearing, nodding-off-on-her-feet adult on the train were the same person. She looked, for all appearances, like a normal human; a human with coloured eyes, but a human nonetheless. She was slightly shorter than average, and dressed in a diner uniform shirt that was mostly gray with blue accents, black slacks, and a headband that was utterly failing to keep her loose black hair in place, she could have been anyone in the train crowd. The only thing that really set her apart was the way she kept nodding off, and then starting back to semi-consciousness whenever she slumped enough to compromise her balance.

    Hell, she even had a job now; one for which she had to wake up two hours before her shift started, and one that only paid the minimum legal wage, but a job nonetheless. It was enough to furnish a closet of an apartment two districts away, and even afford her some social connections. An added bonus was the steady flow of people coming through, which allowed her to keep a half-mind on her mission during most days. After over a decade looking though, her intense staring sessions into crowds had evolved more into disinterested glances. She knew it was in this city, but she couldn't help thinking that after all this time, if it were there, she'd have sensed it. Most human auras were barely perceptible, and everything her commanders had told her indicated her target's soul would be impossible to miss. But then, no demon had come here to soul hunt for centuries; maybe her information was bad, or outdated. Maybe her perception wasn't as unfading as her target was, and at this point she wouldn't know the shining soul if it were right under her nose. Maybe she could catch a nap before her station came up.

    It was more instinct than conscious will that drove her to a recently vacated seat next to Katsuo. The second her bottom touched the seat, her eyes shut, and her body tilted over. Her head lolled onto the stranger's shoulder, and her shoulder length hair shuffled over her face, some into her slightly slack mouth.
  3. By now, Katsuo was wide awake, and totally fine with spending the rest of his commute staring vacantly outside, enjoying the scenes that he hadn’t seen for the last couple of days. It seemed that every week, the cityscape changed, new advertisements painted on buildings, new ships in the port, new people walking through the streets, new festivals going on. Everything was just so fabulously new, and it was exciting, just looking out the windows of the train. The boy sighed contently, flicking a strand of hair away from his nose. As the electric train vibrated once more, pushing out of Prism Station, he tilted his head towards the window. The third stop after this would be his, and then it would be another day filled with work.

    The advertisements that blocked his view disappeared, and the open ocean sparkled before his eyes.

    An instant later, a heavy object leaned on his shoulder.

    Slowly, he looked down at his right shoulder, where a young woman had rested her head, face shrouded by her hair. Her uniform marked her out as someone who worked in the service industry, and her apparent exhaustion made Katsuo pity her almost instantly. It must be hard, working fifteen hours a day as a teenage mother in order to care for the child of a man who left her the moment she revealed that she was pregnant. Yeah, it was the least he could do to give her a shoulder to sleep on while she got to her workplace. Deciding that moving around too much was out of question now, Katsuo closed his eyes, resting. More sleep was always a good thing, after all.

    A few more minutes passed in the quiet train, before the bookstore employee felt something damp on his shoulder, a sticky wetness that surpassed the protection of his t-shirt.

    Oh god why?

    The girl was drooling. She was literally salivating on his shoulder, turning a relatively tolerable situation into one where Katsuo simply wanted to disappear. But if he left suddenly, she’d probably just fall over, and then cause trouble for every other commuter by taking up two train seats instead of one. Or maybe she’d wake up, and then go to work exhausted, do a sloppy job, before getting fired. A million modern tragedy scenarios sped through Katsuo’s mind in that moment, and he sighed once more, this time mildly depressed. He’ll just grit his teeth and bear it then. Slipping a hand into his pocket, he pulled out his light blue handkerchief, folded it once, and then stuck it between her face and his shoulders. Hopefully, that barrier would be enough to staunch the flow from her oral cavity…though he’ll have to wash that later as well.

    Keeping all those things in mind, Katsuo did his best to pretend that this awkward situation wasn’t happening, and went back to resting mode.

    Three restless stops later, and she still hadn’t stopped her drooling or her sleeping. As the train entered Commercial Square, Katsuo grimaced, sighed for the third time, and then said, “Hi, uh…I’ll be getting off now, so can you get up a bit?”
    • Love Love x 1
  4. Risa, who had been dead asleep since she first sat down, was totally unconscious to the worsening situation between her cheek and Katsuo's shoulder. Or even that her cheek was on anyone's shoulder.

    When he spoke, the words echoed into her tired brain, blurring and not making any sense. She mumbled something incoherent, and was about to plunge back into slumber when the train pulled to a stop, and the inertia pulled everyone on the plain just a little bit toward the rear engine. It was just enough to dislodge her head from his shoulder, and the hypnic jerk pulled her violently into wakefulness. She jerked into a bolt-upright sitting position.

    For a second, the kerchief stuck to her cheek, before it fell down. The wet sensation, however, sent her hand swiftly to her face; when it dawned on her what had happened, her pale face flushed red with embarrassment even as her odd purple eyes grew wide with shock. She spun her head in the direction she'd been sitting, and her blush doubled as she saw a rather awkward looking young man with an incriminating damp spot on the shoulder of his shirt.

    "I - I-!" Risa stuttered as her hands fluttered and fidgeted between trying to fix her out-of-place hair and wiping her cheek and looking for the fallen handkerchief (although she didn't know if it would be right to hand it back to him if she found it; it was undoubtedly soaked in her spit)

    The train doors opened with the familiar hydraulic kssshhhh sound, and she jumped to her feet, startled as people started to move past them on their way to the platform. "I-I'm sorry!" she finally managed
  5. For a moment there, Katsuo thought that his words would have no effect on the slumbering laborer, who simply mumbled in her sleep, before falling silent once more. Not sure what exactly he should do next, the boy raised a hesitant hand. It looked like he’d have to shake her awake, huh? It was in moments like these that he wished he could just clone himself, leaving another Katsuo in his place to serve as the drooling girl’s pillow, while he made his escape and tried to forget all about this socially awkward event. Thankfully, he was spared from having to take action when the train jerked her awake, causing sleeping beauty to lurch sideways, off his shoulder. Unfortunately, his handkerchief, had stuck to her face instead of his shoulder, and fell onto the floor after resolutely clinging on for so long.

    Soon afterwards, the doors opened to Commercial Square, and the raven-haired boy could only watch as a swarm of sneakers and loafers and heels descended upon his handkerchief, reducing it into a dirty rag in an instant.

    Ah, that hurt, just a little bit, as an object with three years’ worth of sentimental value was reduced to nothing due to a highly unfortunate event. He had remembered that handkerchief being the first thing that he purchased in the Kaleidoscope City, after springtime allergies had gotten the better of him. He had remembered using it to pick up dirty laundry when he didn’t have gloves. He had remembered drying his hands with it every time he washed them, because using paper towels was environmentally-unfriendly. There were so many experiences that he had shared with that handkerchief, and now that it was dead and gone…

    Actually, why did he even care that much? Smiling at his pointless thoughts, he said, waving off her apology, “Don’t worry about it. I can always get a new one. And hey, I understand. Must be hard, working so long every day for the sake of your child.”
  6. "I can't believe I just - wait, what?" Risa froze in the middle of removing her headband, having given up a few seconds ago on tucking the loose half of her head back under it. The black strands fell as flat as the silence as she digested what Katsuo had said.

    "I don't have a kid" she said dumbly, narrow eyebrows pressing together in a frown as she pulled the elastic circle over her head, lifting the back of her hair mostly with her wrist. "I just work at th-th- aah!"

    As she straightened her head and, finally clearing her face of the flat black strands, her face turned paler than it already was as she heard the hydraulic 'ksssshhh' of the doors closing, and the train started back into motion again and she could only watch helplessly as her stop slid past the windows before disappearing altogether.
  7. Katsuo tilted his head at her sudden declaration, the truth of the matter causing his whole mental scenario to be flipped over on itself. So she wasn’t a single mother working hard in the service industry to provide for her child? It seemed like whatever place she worked in was way more exhausting than his own bookstore gig. After a bit of thinking, he nodded slowly, another glimmer of understanding blossoming within the raven-haired boy. She probably worked in a call center then, having to deal with angry, greedy, annoying customers who wanted to squeeze out all the freebies they possibly could. What a hard life, but for someone who definitely had to drop out of school in order to support herself after her parents passed away, it was probably the only thing she could get.

    And, due to this distraction, she missed the stop she had to get off on as well. Scratching his chin as the train accelerated without care for the young woman’s worries, Katsuo wondered if there was anything he could do to help her out. The next stop was five minutes away, and, if he remember correctly, minimum wage, on an hourly basis, was 800 yen. Under the assumption that she was paid a little higher than extra, it could be brought up to 1000 yen.

    Standing up, Katsuo reached into his wallet, extracted a 1000 yen bill from his worn-out wallet, and then presented it to the call center girl, cradling it in both hands. “As compensation for your time,” he explained, with an apologetic bow full of misplaced pity. "It must be a hard life that you live."

    Through all this, he had forgotten that his own stop had been passed as well, but…well, Katsuo would climb that mountain when he got there.
  8. Risa was frozen in horror, watching the station wall slide past the window, opening to what would be a beautiful view of the city shimmering in the brightening morning sunlight if she was in the mindset to enjoy it.

    Her daze was broken, however, when the misguided stranger she'd been using as a pillow a moment ago spoke up again.

    She turned, frowning in confusion as she saw him bowing and offering a 1,000-yen note. A mixture of indignation and embarrassment flushed across her pale features, making bright flags on her sharp cheeks as she yanked her mind back to the present, processing the young man's explanation.

    "What?" she asked, exasperated as the ends of her eyebrows drew together and her eyes narrowed slightly further in confusion.

    "My life's not THAT hard" she said, realising she was probably going to have to set this guy straight or he was just going to keep pitying her and assuming things about her life, which she wouldn't really care about if she wasn't stuck on a car where she couldn't easily escape a conversation.

    "I work at the Sunrise Diner in the Cerulean district" she explained. "I don't have any kids; I'm just tired cause I was up too late last night."

    As she spoke, her eyes darted every so often toward the windows; she was determined not to miss the next stop, too. Using every microsecond she could possibly spare beneath her mismatched covers and sliding in to work just under the limit for being 'late' was something she'd come to take pride in.
  9. Oh, so she wasn’t a struggling, stressed out office lady working two shifts a day in a call center after all. Katsuo scratched his chin, smiling in a slightly embarrassed manner at his misunderstanding, before wondering whether or not he should retract his charity. It didn’t look like she was going to take it, but at the same time, he DID cause her to be late. Well, he could approve of her desire to be independent, at the very least. Folding the bill in half and stuffing it in his pocket, the raven-haired bookstore worker nodded sagely, before blinking.

    “Sunrise Diner?” Katsuo mused, before smiling at the amusing coincidence, “Oh, I’ve been there a few times during lunch. Work at the bookstore across the street and all. When did they start closing so late though? I’ve always remembered getting off work and seeing it empty.”

    Of course, maybe this restaurant waitress was just up into the wee hours of the night because she was playing video games or watching movies, but...well, actually, that probably was the case, wasn’t it? Looked like she had a case of ADHD too, seeing how her eyes darted back and forth so often. Sorta like a pigeon…though introspectively, it would be better not to voice his opinion on how similar she was to avian vermin.
  10. "They don't close late, they close at five." Risa said, tiredly. Really, correcting this stranger was getting old rather fast, and she had to remind herself that she wasn't in any place to get annoyed at him after taking a nap on - and subsequently wetting - his shoulder a minute ago.

    Fortunately, she was spared any further explanation when a calm, professional-sounding voice murmured the next stop over the train's speaker system. She grabbed hold of an armrest as the train slowed to a halt with a hiss of hydraulics, and the other passengers began to move around them, standing and gathering bags and making for the doors.

    "This is my stop" she said, probably unnecessarily as she hitched her backpack over her shoulder, already heading toward the platform.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.