Disclaimer: I don't own Death Note (only in my dreams...). I do not own any products I may mention (it's called free advertising, pals) nor do I wish to offend anyone with any opinions that may be expressed. This Disclaimer applies to all future chapters as well as the current. (SPOILERS…I suppose too, so THEE BE WARNED)
Heart racing, head pounding, feet aching.
My hands slapped against a dusty, red bricked wall as I broke through a barricade of aluminum garbage cans, they clattered together and bounced across the alley. Plump pigeons were on the tips of their talons with eyes darting back and forth. They perched upon narrow balconies above and fluttered to the four winds in alarm from the CLANGING noise. The flapping of their wings lost in the shouts of outrage behind me.
Leaping over the spilled remains of someone's leftover casseroles, I continued my flight with only a short, faltering stumble. A driving thumping in my temples kept my pace steady after that.
I turned onto an open street, pushing past an onslaught of people coming and going from their busy lives. Some were distinguishably garnished, with lavish furs and velvets or constricting ties and expensive briefcases. Others held java in their hands or pushed strollers, gripping their children by the collar.
All were faceless as I barged into the sea of bodies. Shrieks and profanities were screamed and already forgotten. The crowd parted like the goddamn red sea for the two men in uniform in hot pursuit. I could hardly hear them as they called for me to halt over the sound of my own gasping, it resounded in my ear drums with every quick intake of breath.
I glanced back for a moment, my sweat-soaked hair whipping me in the eyes. My pursuers remained in time, their batons whacking them in the thighs. They were very much the comic duo; one's stick-thin body over-shadowed by his partner's wide girth. Both had pit stains and red faces, but they weren't giving up.
Time for desperate measures.
I hopped up onto a wooden bench, balanced on the back-rest and swung my arm around a nearby lamppost. I leaned back into the street, my toes curling around the wooden plank and the soft skin of my arm pinching against the posters and advertisements taped on the sleek, black metal of the street-light.
The crowd of people that had formed around me and the police officers gasped in awe and fright as city bus speeded by, not inches from making me a spot on the windshield.
I strapped on a sloppy grin and called out wildly, "those donuts padding your gut are why you'll have a heart-attack before you get within five feet of me!"
The bulgier one put his hands on his knees, his cheeks puffed out as he tried to catch his breath. His cap was disheveled and tilted slightly sideways. His buddy wasn't looking so hot either. "Give it up, you're trapped!" Stick-man shouted in a tone that I'm sure to him sounded very manly, but the rest of the onlookers heard it more as a plead.
"See, now that is precisely why we'll never get along." I pirouetted around the post, tip-toeing back onto the edge of the bench. "I'm more creative than you give me credit for!" And with that, I flashed them a lazy salute and leaned out into traffic.
With a thunderous WHIR of a passing truck, I vanished.
Some blocks and a couple of stop-lights later, I released my death-grip from the metal grating of the transport truck and hopped off at a four-way intersection. With a giddy whistle and me tapping my hands on my thighs; I strolled down MacGaber Street.
My fingers wrapped around what was stuffed in the pockets of my bright orange cargo pants, as if to make sure it hadn't disappeared.
Expensive, shiny, and headed for a pawn shop.
The morning light streamed down over the grey-clad apartment buildings and reflected off the shiny, blue windows of distant sky-scrapers. Miniature window washers suspended hundreds of feet in the air could be recognized by their white caps and frantic adjustments of ropes and tool-belts. Looking nothing more than squirming dots from my stand-point.
I turned the corner and rapped on the walk-through window of my habitual fast-food joint with my knuckles, bypassing all the yawning and impatient line-waiters. The window slid open with a SHUMP and out peeked Dorothy. Her usual over-done make-up stuck off the lines in her face in clumps, her bottle-made orange hair mushroomed over the tip of her visor in defiant curls.
"Look who decided to show up." Her lips pouted apart as her smoker's voice box drilled the usual low-octave tone. She released her remote and raised a perfectly maintained eyebrow, looking me up and down in disapproval
I was a little worse for wear, I'll admit. I could understand why she pursed her lips with disgust. No shoes, a sweaty white tank-top, dirt patches all over my face and clothes. I wasn't exactly Miss. Universe over here, but who could blame me? I'd just been chased 23 blocks (props to butch and his stick-man partner for even making it that far).
I wiped my hair behind my ear with a passing sense of self-awareness. "Nice to see you too, Dorothy. Can I get…" I bit down on my bottom lip as if thinking about the choices, though we both knew I would order the exact same thing as every Wednesday, "a Strawberry Explosion, please?"
Dorothy popped a cherry-bubble and started chewing with her mouth wide open. She held her remote up to her neck again. "Sure thing, Sydney." She turned to yell out the order and then looked back at me. "How goes the step-uncle?"
"Oh fine, fine. A regular pocket full of sunshine!" I rubbed my shoulder in remembrance, too much whisky in a man with big arms and a short temperament lead to lots of broken things, luckily not my collarbone.
This time, that is.
Dorothy pinched her lips until they were white, her nostrils opened and closed. She knew what the street was like, having the after-hours job that she did. "Here's your Strawberry Explosion," she slid the monstrous cup over to me, "NEXT!"
I was shoved out of the way as a cyclist with an attitude gargled out his order.
I pulled the straw to my mouth and scuttled down the side-walk, not wasting the effort to remind Dorothy that I hadn't paid yet. Which worked out for the best, since I didn't have a dime to my name anyways.
My heart was still racing a bit after my morning endeavor, and the liquid sugar I was slurping with extreme vigor wasn't exactly going to calm me down. I supposed the adrenaline was still streaming through my veins since I couldn't help but bounce about the curb in a boisterous kind of way. I even clapped my feet together mid-air in a mockery of a Broadway dance routine...
The pawn shop was down by the docks, so I had quite the walk ahead of me. Making sure to drink my Explosion slowly, I took the long way around (just in case those cops decided upon being persistent little buggers).
A breeze wafting of salt and pollution cooled my heated skin.
The world ignored me, not thinking twice about the adolescent girl with no shoes, sucking on a Strawberry Explosion. I enjoyed staring at people as they kept their eyes fixated to some invisible goal.
I passed a man carrying a box of what looked like rather large earthworms, some half-crazed Goth boy with frizzy hair and melting eye-liner and an old blight giving it his all at the bongos, his grimy biker's helmet out in front for any passerby's kind generosity.
I would if I could, man. I thought with an expression of sympathy.
The pawn shop faced the river, distant ferries trailed back and forth across, a few sailboats snaking in-between.
A flock of seagulls squawked at each other, their heads bobbing about as they searched for any scrap of edible litter.
The sound of a bell tinkled as I pressed against the glass door. Bars lined the store-front window, and an "OPEN" neon sign fizzed. The store was lined with foldable plastic tables all the way to the back and pressed against the wall. On the tables were assortments of goods, none of them labeled. There were ships in bottles and tattered paper-backs, several katanas and old-war junk, even a few skulls (fake, I'm sure). No organized system was present to distinguish between the types or styles of the products, the buyer would have to rummage around until they found whatever they were searching for.
Florescent rectangular lights lined with thin cages hummed from the ceiling. Many unfortunate flies littered the canisters, a few even buzzed about frantically for an escape.
The counter was near the back, a way to force any tradesman to perhaps catch sight of something they might fancy before reaching their goal. I shuffled across the multi-colored tiles and plopped my "find" on the counter-top.
I slurped at any non existent Explosion that might be hiding at the bottom of my jumbo-cup and whacked the copper-sprayed bell a couple of times. A mini-rotary fan buzzed back and forth, hardly stirring up the stuffy air at all.
A man of Native-American decent shambled up to meet me. He was wearing a checkered shirt, fluffed open at the collar, white-washed jeans and a cross-stitched cowboy hat (with a red-dyed eagle feather stuck in it for good measure). His long hair hung down the back of his neck in bountiful dreadlocks.
"How can I help you today, my dear Sydney? I have a new shipment of comics, original copies, straight from the author's desk, I swear on the Gods." Jerry liked to swear on his Gods quite often, usually when it suited him.
But who could take a man with dreadlocks in a cowboy hat seriously?
His offer hung in the air for a moment, but I waved it away. "Just selling today, thanks Jerry."
"Hmm," Jerry snapped on a surgeon's glove and inspected the goods with a surprising delicacy for his sausage fingers, "I might be able to spare…perhaps a hundred for this piece."
"A hundred," I slammed my now empty Strawberry Explosion down on the glass cabinet, a ring of condensation began to form and drizzle towards the edge, "that's worth FOUR, at least!" I snatched my stolen goods from Jerry's greedy hands and held them back with a warning. "There are plenty of other pawn shops in this city, Jerry. I can take them elsewhere—"
"No, no!" His thick accent slipped through as he rushed his wording. "Two seventy-five! Final offer."
I showed the wicked daggers in my teeth as I cracked a smile and slowly handed them back to him.
The great thing about Jerry was that he never asked questions. Once a valuable object crossed the threshold of his shop, how it was attained became unnecessary information.
"We have an accord then." I picked up my Explosion and my bright eyes darted about the room for a recycling bin. Hey, I'm Canadian. You have to care about stuff like the environment when you're Canadian. It came with the freedom of speech and health-care benefits (something I wasn't even entitled to).
The right to vote was insinuated with the whole "privilege package" too. Not that I was old enough to vote, mind you. And not that I would, seeing as how the politicians were all the same. You were getting the shit taxed out of you no matter who you got stuck with.
"Here, take a look at this, Sydney." I withdrew from my thoughts of recycling bins and glanced down at the manuscript that was plopped in front of me.
Jerry was being pushy, it seemed. He hummed a tune foreign to my ears and started rummaging around in the cash register while hopping from foot to foot.
The "thing" had Japanese characters scribbled down the front. Out of sheer politeness, I lifted the page by the corner carefully (you rip it you buy it) and let out a small squeal of pleasure. One of my favorite characters of all time stared back at me, sitting in his usual awkward crouch with the mandatory cup of sweetened tea held between his fingertips.
Alright, I was an Otaku-freak. Who wasn't these days?
The one thing I enjoyed about anime-manga in particular was that there was never anything too outlandish, too crazy. There could be giant scythes morphing into people, or break-dancing samurai, or even death gods who were suckers for apples.
Death Note was a definite all time favorite.
Yes, yes. The combination of all the characters, streaming from an obsessive good-looking Light to a preppy yet Goth Misa-Misa to a good-natured Matsuda to even the mysterious Watari were all very important.
The plot twists and the uniqueness of it all kept the series number one on the charts.
But L was the reason you had your fan-girls (and fan-guys) screaming and sighing over Death Note. He was distinctively unmatched by any other creation pertaining to that style. Certainly one of my top five characters, to be sure. I had read the series up and down, and then read it again.
Which is why, half way through…well, I simply lost interest after he was killed off. Don't get me wrong, I liked Matt. I really liked Matt. But Near was just a copycat, and Mello was…Mello. I just didn't buy that together they were even better than L; it just wasn't clicking with me.
I am, after all, entitled to my opinion.
As in: L FRICKEN ROCKS SO SUCK IT!
Or something along those lines.
"This is—" I pointed at the penned manga.
"One of the original volumes." He stated, and began to count out folded green bills. He paused and looked up at me through musty, square framed glasses. "That's quite the bruise you got there."
I shrugged nonchalantly.
He slid the bills towards me and fanned them out. Still staring at my shoulder, he said, "In my clan, we believe that stories are powerful things to pass on."
I nodded, not really listening to him speak as I started counting the paper myself. Jerry could go on and on about his "clan" if you let him.
He pressed on, leaning over the counter while he stared at me intensely. Like a midnight alley cat who knows which bag of discarded trash withholds the leftover can of tuna. "Stories can change your life."
"Sure, sure." I waved the bills at him and grinned. "Thanks a million, pal. You look out for yourself, ya hear?"
My disposable Strawberry Explosion forgotten, I started to wiggle my way between the stacks of tables towards the door. My sweaty palm clamped tightly around my earnings for the day. I knew exactly what I was going to buy first too: a gigantic banana-split, then shoes. Definitely going to need some shoes, I wasn't about to go fishing for my last pair in that sewage pipe (long story).
I thought Jerry had remained behind his counter, until-
"They're an escape, stories are."
I nearly banged my skull on the cheaply card-boarded ceiling for how high I jumped. I bet I could have competed in the Olympics. First all that running this morning, then the jumping. I was turning out to be a regular athlete.
Jerry was hunched over my shoulder now, like a large crow with a hump in its feathers. "Some people need an escape once in a while."
It was a little too close for comfort. "Uh-huh, yeah. Look I gotta jet, but you have a nice day now, okay?"
I had nearly reached the store-front, the advertising signs plastered to the window clearly visible, the white sunlight pouring in through the foggy glass…
"Good, glad we see eye to eye!"
I felt an involuntary chill run up my spine. Thoroughly creeped out, I looked him boldly straight in the face as I had one elbow shimmied up against the PUSH handle of the door. Jerry tapped the priceless Death Note manuscript to his temple, smiling knowingly. "You have fun out there."
"Fun, yeah. I'll see you around, Jerry." Slightly miffed, I stepped out into the bright sunlight, the bell tinkling behind me and—
Had a heart attack.
Okay, I didn't have a heart attack. But it sure as hell felt like one. What with my internal organs jumping half-way up my throat, my skin freezing into a giant slab of ice stretching over my quivering bones and my eyes popping clear out of my head.
A reaction of pure shock.
Unlike the peaceful docks I had expected to lay my eyes on, I was instead staring at tall sky-scrapers, towering into the sun like glittering beacons of glass and steel.
Cars and mopeds whizzed by at alarming rates. Horns honked, cyclists and pedestrians alike waved their fists and bared their teeth.
Crowds of men in suits, teenagers with spiked hair sporting ear-phones the size of cinnamon buns, and ol' regular folk tumbled left and right, swarming the sidewalk like flies. Their voices mixed and clashed as they chattered on cell phones and spoke loudly over their friends.
I guess "ol' regular folk" isn't exactly the right term.
One: Nearly everyone was Asian.
Two: Everything, and I mean everything, from the giant T.V screens on the side of the building across the street to the gum stuck to the bus-stop sign, was animated.
The first rational thing I did was scream bloody murder.
Thus receiving several disgusted glances from nearby pedestrians, all of which muttered irritable sentences under their breath, and then ignored me.
The second thing was me spinning like a top to face Jerry's store. Except it wasn't Jerry's store. It was a stand-alone two story shop, with white crusted, flaking paint and wood bleached from too much sun nailed over the windows and door. A faded blue shutter leaned against the step; it seeped with a sad abandonment. The rest of the area surrounding the building was dirt, no grass or the usual flower pots, just an empty lot.
My mouth must've opened so wide that a train could've chugged its way out.
After several long minutes of a lack of productivity; I fell back onto the concrete step, suddenly exhausted. My legs bent out in front of me, my chin resting in my calloused hands as I stared out, wide eyed, into the world.
I rubbed my mouth and sucked on my inner cheek. Dorothy must've put something in that Strawberry Explosion. I wouldn't put it past her. What was it? Acid? Meth? What? She probably did it with the best intentions too; I could almost hear her with that voice box sizzling in and out of tune. "It'll help take the edge off, hon."
"That horrid—when I get off this high I swear…" My spine suddenly dipped, my rib-cage felt as if it had con-caved in on itself and the world spun. "If he catches me like this…I'm dead, worse than dead." I had an image of him smiling at the police as he waved, and then grabbing my arm and dragging me out of the station.
The sound of bones cracking was already prominent.
I rubbed my hand over my eyes and groaned. "Aw jeez, just write up the funeral certificate now."
I looked out once again into the bustling pant legs and pencil skirts, (what I'm assuming to be) my imagination's concoctive view of a typical down-town, Japanese city.
A typical down-town, Japanese, anime city.
Well, I'm screwed anyway. Might as well enjoy it.
I stretched my arms, cringing slightly at my sore shoulder and bent back and forth. After wiggling about, making sure I had all my proper body-parts in the correct place, I brushed myself off and stood up, joining the throng of people.
I went with the flow for a bit, allowing them to push me along. I felt very immersed, almost part of a unit, as if I wasn't one single person, but a machine.
The crowded side-walk eventually dispersed. Only a few people littered about, fiddling with their lap tops or leaning against building corners.
"I guess lunch break is over." I muttered.
I had landed in front of some very pop-cultured boutique. The shop window displayed very thin mannequins (don't get me started) wearing vibrant colors and dyed wigs with pig-tails or shag cuts, a few with high-tops or gloves with the fingers cut out or striped leg warmers scrunched down to the ankles.
The kind of colors that may have over-whelmed someone new to the "acid" world. They resembled a bubble-gum factory, or a bee's worst nightmare.
Everything was so clear and solid. As if I could reach out and touch—
I blinked, rubbed my eyes, and blinked again.
There I was, clear as day, in the window's reflection.
Except it wasn't me, I mean, it was, it had to be, but it still wasn't.
I was animated too.
Which makes sense, if we're going by the random rules of High-Ville. I was in an animated city, thus, I had to be animated to be a part of it.
Weird, weird, weird, weird, weird…
I involuntarily lifted up my hair and picked at my clothing. Turning left and right, straining my neck to see myself at a 360 degree angle.
Still barefoot, anime barefoot. Same spots of dirt, anime dirt. Same cargo pants, anime cargo…oh forget it. I was anime all over, from the grey eyes to the nail on my pinky finger.
Every color was defined, every line smooth, yet to me in 3-D.
Any other Otaku freak would be squealing their head off by now, jumping up and down and trying every trick in the book. The classic vein popping, the sideways reel, and King of all anime quirks: the sweat drop.
Hey, I'm no different than the others. No restraint from this Otaku. I went straight for the three triangle vein popping.
Think of something that makes you mad…so-o mad, that you want to burst. Think of hypocrites…of two-faced…his face…
"Eureka!" I cheered, throwing my fist in the air. As soon as my victory came, the vein was gone.
I felt an evil, schemey feeling wash over me. This is going to be so much fun.
After doing the vein popping thing to the be-stilled mannequins in the storefront window (who I'm sure were cheering me on in their synthetic little minds), I practiced lurching to the side and falling to the ground in an act of disbelief. After freaking out an old couple waiting for the bus (around my eighth try), I attempted to be more discreet.
The sweat drop was the hardest, my brain nearly exploded from the effort. I could feel my entire body trembling as I tried to will it to work. Use the force...
Trying to compel a feeling of…well, it was hard to describe; was difficult to do.
In the end, I couldn't even get out ONE sweat drop, simply for a lack of a definition.
I guess it's an 'in the moment' sort of thing.
I looked about my surroundings again, now thoroughly bored with my entertaining game. A lot of strangers were giving me a wide berth, either wary from my previous antics, or perhaps how one might act to a foreigner with no shoes?
Besides the point, a trumpeting sound rang in my ears. I looked up to see a News Cast Report on the giant T.V screen dozens of feet above my head.
My neck craned back and I shaded my eyes from the sun. I couldn't understand a word they were saying, but one little detail pierced me to the core.
The word 'Kira' mentioned several times, and the gigantic letter 'L' flashing on screen.
So then it hit me.
Like a bus colliding with my chest booking 60.
Like an aluminum bat swinging up to meet my skull.
Like a tiny implanted micro-chip blowing half my brain to Kingdom Come.
I wasn't just hallucinating about some random anime dream world.
I was hallucinating about Death Note.
End of Chapter 1
Female character gets sucked into Death Note, now THAT rings a bell. Hey, it's not like I stole the idea or anything, everyone else just happened to have it first. :)
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