Chapter 1A: Life
Updated: Nov 18, 2019
Leather boots crashed against the puddled building tops, as streams of light shot up through the city streets.
Oh shit, here we go, lights, camera, action!
A man felt his dark, plastic cape flowing in the wind as he ran, its material crinkling under the heavy rainfall.
My name is Hitomu Abe.
His black hair glowed magnificently in the night while his eyes sparkled with emerald-tinted confidence.
Then he felt the building under him begin to collapse, his sprint beginning to dwindle in time with his fearful facial features. It’s almost akin to a game of jenga with how easily the structure broke down leaving the man’s body flying through the air along with the descending debris.
His eyes shot from side to side heart racing. Suddenly, his pupils begin to glow green.
And for the last three years I’ve been…!
Crisp jade vapor trails run down from his iris’ as he reached a hand out skyward, but it’s not a cry for help. His ever-changing expression finally settled on a toothy grin, as the eyelevel fireworks display reached a head, and the sound of rubber burning against the ground filled the air, the culmination of the power build-up prevalent but fiery with a blazi-
“Mmm, ah, fuck!” Hitomu felt his hand reach out sideways out of instinct, inadvertently bashing his phone flying against the thin, barley-padded cubicle wall. He gently rubbed his sleep-deprived eyes, realizing that he was in his office and not in a daydream.
As he leaned back against his chair, he clicked a button on the phone before holding it up to his ear.
… a cubicle monkey at Akemi Office Equipment Distribution.
“You have three new messages…” It robotically read back to him. Hitomu groaned, pressing a hand into his face before, with an audible sigh, clicking down the play button.
Immediately, he wished he hadn’t.
“Uh…hello, this is Eiko from Blue Bird Creations, you said you’d help me sort through pencils a few weeks ago and-” The voice was nasally and shaky. You couldn’t pay Hitomu enough to listen to rest of this…literally, his thumb mashed against the play button, switching to the next message.
“Hello, I’m- “
“Uh, my printer that I ordered- “
With the messages cleared, Hitomu once again leaned back onto his chair, closing his eyes and letting the feeling of the fabric backing lull him to sleep. In a miniscule amount of time, he had had to start fighting to stay awake and when he was at work, well, that was always going to be a losing battle.
His eyes shot open again. He was outside, the sun was going down, painting every bit of the scenery it overlooked a bright amber. The fabric of his chair was gone, in its place was a metal bench.
He felt something draped over his shoulder, almost immediately swinging a sleepy hand to brush it off, yet finding nothing there. The action was not entirely useless however, as the shine of his watch.
It’s…half past five?
Memories of the boring work day flooded back into his memory, as he straightened his body outward. He sighed as he ran a hand through his black hair, eyes closing in resignation only to snap open when he realized he couldn’t afford to fall asleep again.
“Next train stopping all stations across the eastern line. It will arrive in 12 minutes.” A machinelike voice echoed through the train station. Hitomu did a headcount, it looked like he was the only person here.
Hitomu was a slim man, which was caused by a domino effect of “no money” leading to “no food”. His black hair spiked downward (except for a noticeable strand that sprung upwards in a “c” motion, no matter how hard he tried to comb over it.), casting a slight shadow over his sharp features.
His foot tapped impatiently against the concrete platform, the rhythm intensifying with each conceding announcement. Every crackle of the platform’s speaker led to a new delay with twelve minutes turning into twenty and twenty turning into twenty-five.
He leaned back against the rickety metal bench, blowing his hair upwards in what amounted to around thirty seconds of entertainment before he lost interest. With that lost interest, he began to narrate to no one but himself.
One more time for the people in the back, I guess. My name is Hitomu Abe, I grew up in Kyūkei, a city near the coast of Japan.
A few minutes passed.
No sign of the train.
I have a mother and father and studied electrical engineering at Kyūkei state university, where I have a bachelor’s degree.
More minutes passed
No sign of the train, a fact which even Hitomu’s inner-narration picked up on.
The public transport budget got slashed after the blue-capes got into office. This is the end result.
A few more minutes passed
The rails of the train finally sizzled with heat as the carriage brushed past it, metal weaving through the wheels. Hitomu looked up, relieved at its appearance, yet his body still struggled to move. After a few seconds of pins and needles pressing into his legs, he succeeded in dragging his body through the closing screen doors.
The train was desolate, around five people occupying seats in the section he’d entered. It made it easy to find a spot.
I have worked at Akemi Office Equipment Distribution for three and a half years. I’ve been voted employee of the month once, which, coincidentally, was also the month of the biggest measles outbreak in modern Japanese history.
He rested his elbow against the small space that protruded from the window. The twilight sun shone onto his face, painting his features in a glow that would be transfixing to anyone else. Bored eyes stared out of the window, hoping to cling to something, anything interesting.
Kyūkei was formed after the big super-hero boom started to sweep through Japan…
His gaze was meet with empty, docile streets and broken-down architecture.
Aesthetically, the city was mess. Any building you had the displeasure of looking at was graffitied to hell, which may have actually gone a long way in covering up the chipped paint that malted from any structure in the city.
We were the first country to get them. Whether it was through, like, a mosquito-carried virus or just genetic evolution, they never told us.
“The next stop is: Hanamaru Station.” The voice on the train said, vocals noticeably choppy due to the blown-out speakers that it read out on. Hitomu’s hazel eyes noticed a sickly-looking woman limp out onto the platform.
Kyūkei was one of the cities they set up as a way to try and profit from them. Problem was, powers successfully manifesting were so rare across the population, the people upstairs never considered what would happen when someone incredibly bad got something incredibly powerful.
“The next stop is: East Genten Station”
Hitomu groaned as he pushed himself up from the train seat and walked out onto the platform. Small, loose bits of gravel rolled under the outsole of his shoes, eventually cracking as he put a full foot down against the pavement.
Hiromitsu Nakashima was the first and only notable super villain. He could turn anything he touched into a bomb and then detonate it.
As he walked down the slope of the stations exit, he stuffed his hands in his pockets, the wind blowing small bits of trash up to waist level. Hitomu was completely lost in his own head, but this walk had been routine for over three years, he could’ve made it home sleep walking.
Obviously, the dude went on a bombing run which ended with 20,000 people dead and the city in disarray swiftly followed by us being essentially cut out from the rest of the Japan economy…house prices are cheap though.
Streetways and corners melded together and before he knew it, he was at his home street. He walked up to his front door, which was roughly stuck on to the frame of a small, grey, square-shaped building.
The sound of rubber bouncing against the ground drew his attention sideways, where he saw a small, blonde boy bouncing a basketball around. He recognized the boy; he was from the family that lived across the street.
This kept him fixated for barley a second before he yanked his keys out of his pocket and shoved them into the rusty key-hole. Their rotation yielded a sharp sound of immovability, so much so that for a brief moment Hitomu thought he’d broken either his keys or the hole. After a second of heart-stopping tension however, his door finally opened, although maybe on some subconscious level he wished it hadn’t.
His house stunk, which came as no surprise when you realized first thing that became apparent when you opened the door were the small bits of cereal that had been scattered around his floor. Hitomu tried to not make mind of this as he closed the entrance (leaving only the smallest waves of light managing to escape his windows), simply kicking them under the rug instead of attempting to clean up in any way.
He reached his hand to the light switch and flicked it up and down a couple of times. The bulb stationed above him began to buzz and glimmer with a slight trace of light…until, as expected, it came to a halt.
Didn’t I talk to the electricity company a few days ago? Maybe it was a few weeks ago…
He grabbed the TV remote and clicked the “on” button, using the screens light as a makeshift lamp. Unfortunately, he’d neglected the fact that the TV would function as a lamp that also attempted to tell you what stocks were on the rise unless you muted it.
“-oving onto a smaller story today…” A female newscaster began to speak, the TV having cut into her mid-sentence. Hitomu grumbled something at the intrusion of sound and reached back to his couch for the discarded remote, until a single word caused him to freeze up.
“A Superhero…Time-Chaser? Is that her name?” The news anchor asked to presumably the people behind the camera while botching the title completely.
Time-Threader. Hitomu corrected in his mind. He’d heard about her before, she was pretty active in the area. With a newfound interest in this story, he slumped down on the couch, springs creaking under him.
“…anyway, she put a stop to a…bank robbery? Grocery store robbery? Either way, we have some footage here.”
The screen cut from the news desk to an incredibly blurry video that had been stretched far above its intended resolution. Hitomu reasoned they may as well have just played the audio, but even that was scrambled beyond audible levels.
After a few seconds of the white blob and the grey blobs that were presumably Time-Threader and the criminals doing…something, the visual cut back to the host, who looked thoroughly uninterested in even the concept behind the video.
“Well…there you go.” She said, stance stiff and uncomfortable. After a few seconds of pure dead air, she quickly began to transition to a different topic. Hitomu had completely checked out by then, not bothering to listen further.
You’d think Supers would get more acclaim for what they do, looking out for us regular folk and all, but nope, not after the Hiromitsu bombings. People are just…kinda’ scared of ‘em. They call it “cape fear”, but I’m not sure it really needs its own term. People fear what they don’t understand, simple as that.
Involuntarily, he let out a sigh, closing his eyes.
But…at least people know them though, not like me. No one knows who I am…I don’t even know what day it is…it feels like I’m stuck here.
The words echoed through Hitomu’s mind, in a way that seemed not of this world. In fact, the resonance was almost tangible, reverberations gripping at his back and sending shivers down his spine. Maybe he shouldn’t be talking to himself.
The reverb made him feel nauseous. His stomach ached, his brain felt like shutting down and really, who was he to deny it? Hazel eyes snapped shut, edging him closer and closer to sleep…
The sound of his clock alarm going off brought him back to consciousness just as quickly as he’d left it, or so he thought. Looking over at the vibrating clock, he spied the red digits flashing the number “7:14”
Hitomu let out a loud groan, pushing himself up from the couch with inexplicably aching limbs.
“Jesus, I’m becoming a fucking narcoleptic.” He complained to himself, anger simmering behind gritted teeth. He reasoned he should quickly eat dinner and then kick it in early, so he’d be well-rested in time for work tomorrow.
Hunched over in his posture, Hitomu walked over to the fridge before opening it. It’s holding size was miniscule, but it’s bareness almost managed to reverse that image in Hitomu’s mind. Its rusted metal rows held nothing but a quarter-full jar of mayonnaise and a wilted cucumber.
Hitomu closed the fridge and rushed over to his money bank, taking a handful of silver coins out of it. If he didn’t have enough than it was mayo-dipped cucumber for dinner. Thankfully, a satisfying clink from his palm signified that he had at least enough for a packaged curry or something equally cheap.
Pulling a tattered brown coat over his suit jacket, Hitomu stepped out of the house, mind focused on-
A basketball came flying at his face, the young man barley getting his hand up in time to deflect it to the side. His face and posture froze out of shock, only thawing when the same child he’d saw earlier staring back at him with a wide-eyed guilty look.
“Oh shoot, sorry dude.” The boy said, in a tone that made Hitomu instinctively want to reply “Sorry dude” in a shrill, mocking manner. He wanted to do it so badly, that or snatch the kids’ ball and punt it away but the grinding of his teeth and gripping of his knuckles served to sooth his inner-flames of anger. He was an adult and he was going to behave in an adult-like manner.
“...It’s okay, just…try not to do it again.” Hitomu said, having to bite his tongue to keep the ensuring “and maybe next time you’ll actually shoot a basket, you stupid little trust-fund bitch” inaudible. The boy nodded his head at Hitomu as a sign of acknowledgment, but it was obvious from his barley existent eye contact that he didn’t really care.
Turning on his heel, Hitomu began to walk down the street, towards the local corner store. It wasn’t a long walk, maybe six minutes tops. Through this short period of time, Hitomu couldn’t help but notice the harsh breeze blowing through the air.
It began to gradually build up more and more, not becoming unlivable, but certainly ramping up in unpleasantness. The sky was dark now but not fully sunset, though that would change with the moon gradually drying up any leftover puddles of twilight.
The shop stood over the horizon, illuminated well, at least to the point Hitomu could scout it from far away. Its features began to become more and more discernable the closer he walked, but with this newly gained visibility came the halting of his footsteps.
There was a robbery going on in the store.
Normally this would be cause for a call to the police or at least a feeling of concern, but Hitomu just turned around and pretend to walk in the other direction. It was a storefront on gang turf, he’d be surprised if it wasn’t getting robbed.
Even from a distance, he could hear the yells of the men emanating from the smashed window frame at near the store’s door.
“Open the register, or I turn you into a fucking kebab!” One of the robbers yelled. Hitomu gently turned his head to get a look at them. Both were wearing white cloths around their mouths, each one coated with what appeared to be some sort of special paint. Every breath from them caused grey dye to seep into the fabric before somehow disappearing on an inhale. No guns, just knives.
“I’ve told ya’, I’m getting opening it now.” A noticeably foreign voice replied. Hitomu winced.
Sam had migrated from Italy when Kyūkei hit its boom period, but had only actually been accepted to the country a few months after the Hiromitsu bombings. His enthusiasm for work had quickly dried up, much like the success of his store.
The sound of the register soon clicked through the air, swiftly followed by the inaudible, but ever-present sound of disappointment. This silence could only last so long when in the presence of power-tripping robbers though.
“That’s all you have?!” One of the men yelled, stabbing his knife onto the counter in a fit of anger.
“You already robbed me two days ago!” Sam boomed back, accent becoming heavier to match the intensity in his voice. This shout trailed onto another long stretch of silence before one of the robbers spoke up:
“Let’s get out of here.”
Hitomu quickly tore his gaze away from the store, taking short slow steps away from the store, until the sound of the two goon’s footsteps were inaudible. That’s when he turned on his heal, and began to resume his walk to the store.
He almost felt sad seeing Sam rest a heavy head in his arms.
Almost, because Sam was a dick.
The loud ding of the alarm rung out as he opened the door, accompanying the sound of dust and grime that had wafted from every shelf in the shop. Flashing a toothy grin to himself, he began walking towards the “packaged foods” aisle.
“Is that the third robbery this week Sam?” He yelled backwards, intentionally keeping his head low while rifling his hands through an aisle’s worth of boxes of mac and cheese.
“Shut the fuck up Abe, you scrawny fuckin’ prick!” Sam barked out, slamming his hands on the counter with an anger that he’d clearly been holding in during the robbery.
“Come on, that’s no way to treat your best customer.” Hitomu sneered back, somehow seeming smug despite the fact that he was in the process of excavating mac and cheese off a convenience store shelves.
“Where the fuck are you gonna go? I’m the only store in town with cheap enough prices for your poverty-ridden ass.” Sam yelled back with his point only being solidified as Hitomu spent another two minutes trying to find an off-brand he could afford.
After this uncomfortable pause, Hitomu stood up clutching the battered blue box in one hand, clothes and hair ruffled up from how far he’d had to lean over into the shelves.
“Whatever.” He said to Sam, walking over to the counter with lax eyes and completely shot confidence.
Sam ripped the item from his hands, scanning it with an unimpressed look on his face. “You know the cheese in these things ain’t real right?”
“Next you’ll tell me Santa’s not real either.” Hitomu replied, reclaiming his grip on the box as Sam placed it down. Any humor in his comment only served to piss the clerk off further.
“Ahaha, lick my balls dickwad.” Sam growled at him; his vulgar language being met with only a fleeting glance from a now-departing Hitomu.
He mentally blocked his ears after this, not bothering to listen to whatever unrefined outburst Sam was going to hurl at him next. The doors joints creaked under itself, as Hitomu let go off the handle and departed towards his home.
The streets were quiet, although that may have been due to the harsh winds blocking out any other sounds. Strands of his coat blew in the air as footsteps became harder and harder to push forward.
When he reached home, he was greeted with the sight of a dented letter box barley balancing on its own.
The basketball kid was mysteriously nowhere to be found.
Hitomu grumpily thrust open the door, anger only surging as the door began to refuse to lock at any attempt to close it.
He shut it into the frame but it’s metal point never retracted, instead banging against the door frame. After a trio of efforts to calmly get it to synch into place, Hitomu’s grip against it became crazed as he began to harshly smash it against the wooden entryway.
Again, and again Hitomu smashed the door in on itself, before finally, in what could only be described as an act of pity from god, it shut, taking the sound of the blowing wind with it. Letting out a loud sigh of relief, Hitomu briefly leaned against the door, not even having enough energy to stand by himself.
Despite how cold it was in the house, he couldn’t help but hear the faint noises of breeze outside and be glad the door had closed. He stayed there, for just a few seconds.
Then he realized time was actually moving, even if he himself was not. Pushing himself up from the wall, Hitomu made a drunken-like stumble over to the kitchen, placing the box of mac and cheese on the small, thin counter. Despite the fact that he had probably had this same meal every week since he moved to Kyūkei’s inner-city, he still felt the need to read the instructions every time.
Step one was to… heat the water to mid-to-high heat and pour in macaroni (only eating half, in order to keep some for tomorrow)
He fetched a surprisingly well-washed pot and began to fill it with water. It dripped out slowly, doing little to fill the vast abyss of the pot. The slow, sad waterfall of the tap brought a recent news story to the forefront of Hitomu’s mind.
Someone had been jipping away at the city’s piping system, a lot faster than they could repair them. He initially thought it was a pretty lame crime to commit, but later reasoned that the “pipe-cutter” had certainly made an impression, however drab that impression was. He’d even heard people at work discussing the perpetrator, and “super discussion” in the office was usually a big no-no.
People knew who the “pipe-cutter” was.
People didn’t know who Hitomu Abe was.
That thought bounced around his head as he watched the water trickle down from the tap.
The scent of the bubbler water dripping into the plastic cup was one of refreshment yet also one carrying the baggage of making Hitomu realize just where he was.
It was ten-fifteen on a Friday morning.
Memories of the night before slowly unraveled into Hitomu’s mind, although he began to question if they belonged to a different day by virtue of their familiarity.
Mac and cheese.
Arrive at work.
That had been the story of his life for the last three and a half years.
The vibration of voices ticked his back as he filled up the cup. The clutter of conversation only drew his attention when he his name was spoken, and even then, his gaze was sloppy and unfocused.
“Hitomu?” The stubby, blonde man behind him repeated. This was Yuuma Sakazaki, potentially the most boring person Hitomu had ever met.
“Yeah?” He replied against better judgment.
“You see the game last night? The one between the mantis and the zeppelins?”
Almost immediately, he realized he’d lost the battle. Literally, any response would end up with a thirty-minute conversation/one-sided lecture from Yuuma. It was unavoidable.
“Yes, I saw it” would quickly turn into a discussion on the complete intricacies of the game he hadn’t seen, which would quickly reveal the lie, meaning it was functionally identical to…
“No, I didn’t see it.” This would only nab him a full, quarter-by-quarter run-down of every shot, block, header and whatever else the sport of football pertained.
Any way you sliced it, he lost, so why even bother playing.
“I missed it.”
“Oh, you did? Well, that’s no trouble- “
Coincidentally, Hitomu found his way back to his desk around thirty minutes later. He shriveled down into his office chair, clearly irritated by the fact that he had now had a decent recollection of a football game he didn’t give a shit about.
His finger shot out sharply and clicked the button of the answering machine.
“You have twelve new messages…”
Wow, guess he’d won the lottery.
“Uh, hello, this is Eiko from Blue Bird Creations, I’ve called you a number of times in the…”
“Uh, hello, this is Eiko from Blue Bird Creations, I’m kinda- “
“Uh, hello, this is Eiko from Blue Bird Creations...”
Did this guy seriously use the same introduction every time? Whatever.
The twitch of Hitomu’s finger on the button became more and more aggressive, each mash of it sending loud” beeps” up into the air. He repeated the action until his message bank was completely cleared of anything even slightly relating to “Eiko from Blue Bird Creations.”
He soon realized however, that listening to his messages was really the only thing he had to do around the office. The monotonous chains of boredom quickly began to wrap around him, as he habitually looked out the near-by window in search of something entertaining.
Surprisingly, this was rewarded with the site of blaze orange-clad construction workers scaling the scaffolding of a large, tarped building while large planks of wood and metal dragged along the ramp.
The Kyukei clock tower had been in development for years now. Hitomu didn’t know if it was a front for something, or just so close to completion that the government would’ve felt bad canning it, but the clock towers’ development had served as a perpetual black hole for the cities funding.
For almost an hour he watched the men go up and down the foundation of the building, yet in that generous amount of time, he never saw them accomplish anything notable. He wondered if they felt like him, doing the same thing over and over again every day with no rhyme or real reason.
His attention span was could only stretch so much though, and he quickly redirected his gaze to the clock on the wall. It may have been just as bland, but the dopamine rush he got when he realized that ten minutes had gone by was more than enough to keep him watching
Occasionally, he’d run a hand over his keyboard to create the audible illusion of productivity (in reality, the screen wasn’t even on). The combination of the mechanical cracking and mute, wispy ticking began to create a small rhythm in
Hitomu let out a loud sigh of relief as the hand of the clock struck five. There was nothing more energy-draining than doing nothing. Locking his desk, he stepped out from the cubicle with a fatigued, but triumphant smile on his face.
This happiness lasted around ten seconds before, just as he was about to pass through the door, a shrill voice stopped him in his tracks.
“Hitomu, can you come in here?”
It came from the office on his right.
From his boss’s office.
With an internalized groan, he made a beeline for the door, hoping to get in and out like a secret agent stealing…a jewel or something.
“What is it boss?” He said as he emerged into the cluttered room, facing the women at the table.
Aoi Akemi had been his boss for as long as he could remember, having inherited the business from her father a few years before he began working here. She was a middle-aged woman, with shoulder length black-hair. She was incredibly short, barley measuring up to Hitomu’s chest (with him not being that tall himself) as well as being extremely mild-mannered.
“Well…I got a call just before from a man called Eiko. He represented a company called blue bird creations.” She hummed, obviously pissed off at him but non-confrontational enough to try and hide it.
“Hm?” Hitomu replied, not liking the possible futures he could see this conversation leading too.
“Now, I know some of this stuff can just…slip through the cracks when you’re working, but I’d really appreciate if you could just…” She paused, thinking up alternative wording to compensate for her lack of back bone “…maybe, rectify the situation at the earliest possible convivence.”
The way she said it implied only one thing in Hitomu’s mind, and if he was correct, she’d trapped him. He’d said his mother had been sick a few weeks ago, he himself obviously wasn’t. The only option in his mind was too try and exploit her fear of argument.
“Sure thing boss, I’ll be right on it tomorrow.” He speedily replied, not even attempting to mask how desperate he was to go home.
“Uh, maybe, you could do it sooner.” She replied, instinctively beginning to twirl a finger through her hair. Hitomu bit his cheek in frustration, before attempting to outflank her in a war of bluntness.
“Am I working overtime?” He directly said back, contempt for the situation present in his tone.
“I’m going to need a yes or a no on that one.”
“Well, as your employer, I’m entitled to-”
“Speed it up, yes or no?” He said, statment unbecoming of a situation where you were talking with your boss.
“I don’t have to- “
“-make me work overtime, there we go, it’s like a madlibs.”
“Wait, no-” Her spectacled eyes glinted with frustration.
“No I don’t have to work overtime?” Hitomu desperately attempted to bamboozle her into letting him go home.
“Well, just…just listen.” Aoi said, putting the man’s anxious bargaining on hold for the moment. “I’m not saying you have to work overtime- “
“…Can your run me through the shades of blue in your pencil range?” Eiko asked, voice crackling through the low-quality phone.
In order to hold back an exacerbated yell, Hitomu’s teeth crashed down on his lip hard enough to draw blood. Gently, he pulled out his printed piece of paper and began to read from it. The sky was dark, darker than it should be if he was still in the office.
“…Sky blue, dark blue, deep blue, deeper blue, deepest blue, light blue…” He prepared to read more before another crackle from his phone caused him to pause.
“Is there anything deeper than deepest blue?”
Hitomu stuffed a finger in his mouth, repeatedly biting down on it like a foam stress reliever.
This is what a degree in electrical engineering earned you.
Hitomu left without saying goodbye, instead practically dashing out of the building. The Akemi office was located in a heavily populated part of town, and he did not want to risk a run in with any S.R.A officers on a late night.
The seven-minute walk to the train station dried up into a two-minute sprint, but no amount of speed could save him from the dreaded train delay. He never realized why they didn’t just write the schedule with the delays accounted for, seeing as they were as sure as death or taxes at this point.
Mercifully, the locomotive arrived a little over five minutes later than when it was intended too. The train ride was slightly notable, if only for the change in scenery. His nerves began to subside as he drew further and further away from the inner-city, which was also further and further away from any encounters with the S.R.A
The walk back to his house was unmemorable, but pleasant until he saw the boy with the basketball again. He wasn’t doing anything irregular but even his sheer presence made Hitomu irritated, almost as irritated as when the goddamn door just wouldn’t shut.
Five minutes past before he could get the door to shut.
With heavy breathing, Hitomu attempted to switch on the lights, neglecting that they hadn’t worked in months. The unwelcomed surprise of a flickering and then dying bulb plucked harshly at the strings on his anger.
He resorted to switching the TV on, the loud news broadcast forcing him to ramp down the volume before he retrieved a small bowl from the cupboard. Rinsing it out, he prepared to funnel the leftover pasta into it, before he heard a specific word that grabbed his attention.
“-superhero Time, uh, threader stopped what would’ve been a high-scale murder today, when a robber bailed from his escape vehicle and sent it hurtling towards a sidewalk. Here’s that…”
The screen crackled before being taken up by a grainy yet visible video. It interested Hitomu enough that he put the bowl down and moved further towards the TV. On screen, a large truck hurtled towards a small crowd of people, all of them too slow to properly react.
Screams erupted from them, most of them simply throwing their backs towards the oncoming vehicle like that was going to make it go away. Rubber began to burn on the pavement, a side effect of the truck having no-driver. Hitomu felt his heart rate quicken, watching as the looming steel came closer and closer to impact…
And then it stopped.
Not just stopped, stopped dead in its tracks. No momentum, no sound, no anything.
A girl in a full white bodysuit descended from the sky, quickly ushering away the nearby civilians. Slowly, she turned towards the camera, revealing a set of stained-blue lenses resting on her eyes, matching the blue lines that ran through her suit, before the video abruptly ended.
“Wow, just incredible stuff there…” The newscasters obviously unimpressed mumbles faded into white noise as Hitomu’s thoughts strayed far away from the cold pot of mac and cheese. The video reminded him of something.
Almost immediately, he began to rummage through his “closet” which at this point, was just a stockpile of everything he owned that wasn’t kitchenware. A few minutes past while he dug through unwashed shirts and bits of plastic he didn’t even know the origin of.
“Come on, come on…” He groaned, frustration beginning to ignite again in the face of his failings, only for it to all wash away as his fingers hit the feeling of smooth metal. Clutching down on the sensation, Hitomu recovered a black glove from the abyss of the stockpile. It was made out of fabric, with circular metal tips on the fingers.
He smiled in reminiscence as he put the glove on. It had been a project he’d worked on during collage based around “trying to replicate a super-power.” He’d had chosen magnetism and it had turned out…less than great.
The glove only worked on smaller objects, if it worked at all and most of the time, would leave Hitomu stuck to whatever thing he was trying to pull towards him. He walked back to the main room, making sure the television was loud enough to here before he switched the gloves effects on. What the broadcasters were actually saying was inconsequential, as Hitomu needed was a backing track of their voices so that he could mimic their voices in his head.
Magnetic energy rushed through his fingertips, not at all powerful (it was essentially five mid-tier magnets glued to his hand) but enough of a trip to give Hitomu the rush of control he so desperately wanted in that moment.
He thrust his hand out at a small spoon that lay on his kitchen bench, the glove surprisingly holding enough energy to levitate it over to him (after a bit of shuffling towards it). It was like, in that moment, he was a super hero, playing around with his powers for the first time, testing the limits before attempting to break them.
Unfortunately, what Hitomu actually was, was a guy dancing around his cramped house with a glorified magnet on his hand, yet he was so caught up in his delusions, he didn’t even notice his hand reaching towards the pot of mac and cheese.
The sound of the pot clanging against the stove shattered his fantasies, causing him to trip over his own feet before the pot’s contents splattered all over him. His black hair and faint features were painted completely yellow.
This was the trigger Hitomu’s festering rage needed to fully detonate, as he erratically shot upwards.
“FUCK-FUCK-FUCK…GOD FUCKING DAMN IT!” He tossed the glove across the room while unloading a sharp, angry kick against the stove. The feeling of room temperature macaroni sauce running down his suit served to fan the flames. That initial kick soon multiplied, and by the end of his outburst, it looked like he was attempting to stomp a hole in the oven.
An adrenaline rush like that was only temporary however, and Hitomu soon began to settle down with sharp, ragged breaths. He quickly discarded his upper body clothes, prepping them for the dryer. The water bill was already high but he’d have to bite the bullet or he’d end up losing the suit-jacket. Any lower-ware had come out of the incident generally unscathed, so he didn’t have to worry as much about that.
After popping the clothes into the washing machine and running his head under a tap, Hitomu collapsed onto his couch, not being able to muster up the energy to even go to bed properly.
Even his own fantasies ended with him going to sleep smelling greasy couch leather and boxed cheese.
The early days sun shone gently through the windows. It would usually be a warm, pleasant sensation but here, it did nothing but heat the smell of the residual mac and cheese that clung to Hitomu.
Not the best way to start your morning, that was for sure.
Groaning, he rolled off the bed and began to stretch. An attempt at running his hand through his hair failed, as the sticky strands refused to part.
He really needed a shower.
Soap and water ran down his body, as he attempted to replace every bit of cheese smell with that of soap and shampoo. His focus was far away from the clean-up though, as hazel eyes instead winced at every bit of water that went down the drain as if it was money instead (which it basically was considering the water bill).
It didn’t help that the shower lasted significantly longer than usual, its length dictated by the fact that Hitomu had been absolutely coated by the pasta. All in all, it was ten minutes before he was able to step out smelling like a human instead of a pack of Cheetos.
His head felt sore, probably from a mix of sleep deprivation and stress. The pulsating migraine made him remember there was only one cure for a headache; binge drinking on cheap, shitty beer. He quickly dressed himself up and collected whatever he had in-terms of leftover coins, preparing to go over to Sams’.
Despite the fact that he was about to go on a weekend-length bender which would result in him waking up on Monday with a throbbing headache and general nausea, Hitomu began to feel almost…excited at the prospect.
As he stepped out onto the sidewalk, he had to admit it was a nice day. Blue skies, shining sun, not a clou-
Something crashed into cheek. Hard. Hard enough to send his head spinning to the left of himself. After taking a moment to feel the heat now radiating off his face, his head snapped to the opposite direction, fixing his gaze squarely on…
That little shit.
“Oh shoot, sorry dude.”
Hitomu glared back at him, before looking back at the basketball that was now resting near his feet.
“…Oh, you’re sorry?”
The kid froze up, surprised by literally any reply that wasn’t blowing it off.
“…Well I’m not!” Hitomu picked the ball up off the ground and punted it like a penalty kick. It flew into the next street, disappearing from view completely. Both of them watched on with polarizing reactions, the young boy with shock and terror and Hitomu with smug satisfaction.
“What the hell dude?!” The kid quickly came-to-life however, running over to him with clearly saddened facial features. Hitomu felt a twinge of guilt pluck at his throat…that was, until a messy kick connected with his shin.
The little kid had kicked him in the shin, and he had to admit, despite the fact that his attacker wasn’t even in middle school, it hurt…a lot, enough to send him stumbling at the very least.
Quickly regaining his bearings, Hitomu breathed in calmly and decided he was the adult in this situation and he had to act like it…
Then he saw the little shit’s face scowling back at him, and he slapped him upside the head.
“Aah!” The kid yelled, as he was sent spiraling to the streets’ road. His face was nearly bleeding, probably because he’d just been palm-slapped by a fully-grown adult. Hitomu wasn’t even finished though, and he began to walk towards the child like a lion stalking a zebra.
“What the fuck did you think was going to happen?” He yelled, as the boy’s facial features began to become distinctly fearful.
“Dude…move.” The kid began to frightfully back away on his hands but Hitomu wasn’t having any of that shit.
“Dude? Dude?! “I’m sorry dude”” Hitomu replied, not heading the kid’s words and instead mocking him. “I’m not fucking moving, until you apologize for fucking up my mail box.”
“Get out of the way!” The boy’s voice began to crack under the pressure of the situation, a situation Hitomu couldn’t see through his tunnel vision.
“What? What are you going to do, kick me again?” Hitomu reached down and shoved the child backwards, sending him onto the sidewalk. “Come on let’s fucking go- “
“DUDE, GET OUT OF THE WAY!” The kid screamed bloody murder, volume levels going loud enough to snap Hitomu out of his anger.
Racing towards him was a mini-van, a large one at that. Immediately, Hitomu began to try and figure out a way out of this. He couldn’t take the hit; it was too big and too fast (with no hint of slowing down.) It was already close to him, so there was no chance of him dodging out of the way unless he wanted death to be more painful. Maybe he could jump it…oh who was he kidding, he’d have to pull out an Olympic high jump just to hit the windscreen.
So then…this was it; he was dead. Not only that, he was dead because he’d wanted to beat up a little kid. Hitomu couldn’t help but feel this was a pretty pathetic end to the story of his life, but one that was also fitting.
Hitomu desperately wanted the van to halt its momentum, to stop dead in its tracks like it had on TV, but that stuff…that stuff may as well of been fairy tales.
The car hit him.
It hit him and he died.
“Hello?” The words hello echoed around his brain for a bit. Only Hitomu soon realized the words weren’t echoing around his brain, it was vibrating around his location.
…Wait, Didn’t I die?
Hitomu softly sat up, attempting to realize just where he was, and why he could even comprehend it. It was…white, everything was white, from the floor to the sky. There was no horizon line, just more blankness ahead.
“Ah, you’re up.” A loud voice said, surprisingly jovial.
What the hell? Hitomu thought, as his eyes scanned the immediate vicinity in an attempt to try and pinpoint where the conversation was coming from.
“On your left!” The androgynous voice directed him. The man followed the instructions turning his head sideways were he found a pair of sharp, green eyes staring back at him.
“Oh fuck!” Hitomu pushed himself backwards in fright, not realizing that the voice had been so close to him.
“Woah, calm down there friend!” The eyes began to display concern through its shape, softening out. Hitomu’s heart rate continued to beat though, before, after a few seconds spent realizing just what he was looking at, he meekly asked:
“A-a-are…are you god?”
The eyes quickly shifted again, this time displaying humor.
“I guess you could say that.”
Hitomu winced, specifically remembering a comment he’d sent to someone over Facebook that went something along the lines of “lmao @ actually believing god’s real. Hahaha. KYS lmao.”
“So, does that mean this is heaven?” He asked the eyes, kind of freaked out at the emptiness around him yet trying to put it off. You didn’t get to have a 1-on-1 conversation with god every day.
“An equivalent of sorts, yes. Only a specific few go here, ones who have done good deeds.” The voice was sugary sweet, yet almost too sweet. Hitomu was too freaked out to notice however, instead he became confused at the beings’ statement. “Wait, what did I do that was…good?”
Now it was the eyes’ turn to become confused, its green outlines slanting. “You saved that boy on the side of the road.”
Hitomu played the series of events that led to his demise back in his mind, trying to figure out what the hell this higher power was talking about
He slapped the kid in the head.
The kid fell to the ground.
He walked towards the kid.
He pushed the kid off the road.
Guess god was watching with the mute button on. He thought, smugly sneering inwardly.
His inner-smirk speedily faltered though, as god’s eyes flew towards him, stopping a few inches away from his face. Hitomu let out a small squeak of terror, not prepared for the sudden burst of motion.
“Tell me, Hitomu Abe, what did you want most in life.” Its tone had switched from joking to serious at the drop of a hat, the scenery beginning to wear a murky, grey color.
Hitomu may have thought about it for a second, but the answer was essentially instantaneous with him not even stopping to ask how the entity knew his name (which was quite on topic)
“I want people to know my name.”
“Anyway. I don’t care how it is, I just…want people to know me.” There was no sense of levity or self-awareness in his words, how could there be when he was pouring his heart out to a sentient pair of eyes.
The eyes non-existent brow furrowed, before it spoke. “Do you wish to be a…superhero, perhaps?”
“Yes!” Hitomu didn’t even think before speaking, much to the delight of the now-sinister looking eyes.
“Is this your desire?” The voice echoed much like it had earlier, sending what appeared to be ripples through the grey area.
The redundancy of the question broke Hitomu from his trance, the man flashing a confused look towards the emerald eyes’. “…I just said yes? I’m dead anyway, what does it even matter?”
This received a loud, jolly laugh from the voice, who, with a blink of their eyes, turned the world from grey to pitch black.
“It matters…more than you’d think.”
Suddenly, the eyes exploded into a green fire prompting Hitomu to jump to his feet in fright.
“What the hell?”
Jade flames began to circle around him, illuminating the darkness in a bewitching green light. Hitomu felt his heart start to beat quickly despite the fact the was generally calming down.
What’s he going to do? I’m already dead.
And then he felt the searing hot pain in his chest.
The fire had risen up in pillars, shifting its gas-like shape into sharp scorching threads. Each one looked like it would be used for sowing, yet instead of its contents being yarn it was weaved from flame.
Each one shot through Hitomu, piercing through his heart, hands and legs. Every sting drew a scream from him, which only intensified as the threads began to wrap around him, fire encasing him like a mummy.
“MMMM, MMMM!” His cries became suppressed, mouth and face burning on every opening. More threads began to shoot out from the makeshift cocoon, disappearing far far away into the horizon.
Hitomu’s vision had become blinded by fire. It was pure torture, the pain and burns somehow healing before they began to sear again, trapping Hitomu in an endless loop of life and death.
Life and death.
Life and death.
LIFE AND DEATH
“AAAAAAh!” Hitomu shot up off the pavement, shivering under himself. His hands began to clammily clutch at his arms, feeling up his sleeves for any signs of the fire. He found nothing, but did realize how surprisingly light they felt.
“…What?” He murmured to himself, pushing off the ground easily. From there, he looked over the pavement where he’d once lay.
Dark stains of both dried and fresh blood stained the road, matching splotches of it running down his clothes yet…he wasn’t bleeding. The feeling of the burns subsiding and returning over and over again ran down his back, as he placed a hand to his forehead.
He ran through a recollection of events, trying to figure out if it was real, if he’d really gone through the cycle of burning and healing.
Burning and healing.
Burning and healing.
It was then a lightbulb switched on in Hitomu’s head. He walked back to his house, an extra spring in his step as he opened the door. Gleefully ripping open a kitchen drawer, Hitomu retrieved a knife and made a shallow cut on his index finger.
Almost immediately, skin healed over it, much to Hitomu’s delight. In fact, he
struggled to keep in his enjoyment, quickly dancing around his kitchen before settling back near the table. Another test cut yielded a similar result, with it instantly healing over his injury.
Soon after, he jammed the knife into the arm, causing a massive incision in his arm. It healed all the same, the wound closing up with barley any pain in his limb.
Hitomu began to laugh. He laughed hard, having to put a hand over his mouth in an attempt to keep it all in, only to soon realize how futile that was.
He’d done it…
“I’VE GOT SUPERPOWERS!”