Okay, just in time for Nano this year, I have the first chapter of last years Nano in a nearly presentable form. This novel is an urban fantasy set in Tokyo, Japan. The title is PAINTING WITH LIGHT AND SHADOW.
Enjoy. Feel free to critique and point things out that need to be fixed.
Chapter 1 (Too many Long-Islands)
did I end up here?” Zack wobbled
back and forth. “Pissing on this
“I do not know,” a male voice said in a
slurred Japanese accent. “You tell me,
After lurching forward, only the gravestone kept Zack upright. “What were we talking about?” He glanced about, but
there was no one else in sight. Huh? Oh well — His vision fogged, and the thought died.
did you come to this particular grave and decide to piss?” The voice
sounded angry for some reason.
you a cop?”
“No … .”
“Good … I’d say … one too many Long —” Zack threw-up onto the gravestone. “— Islands.” While pulling bits of chicken from his mouth, he stumbled backwards.
know … .” Trying to clear his
vision, he blinked. “The cheap and
… You mean alcohol?”
course.” Zack checked his cellphone, but its battery was dead.
“What else would I be talking about?”
lights lined the graveyard, but the neon — Love Hotel — signs flashing
nearby made up for it. Gravel shifted under Zack’s feet. When the incense mixed with the vile
remnants of his night celebrating the end of a shitty relationship, he coughed. The jarring sound echoed through the small, Japanese mausoleums.
The voice groaned. “Perfect … just perfect.”
are you?” Or where are you?
asked you first.” Zack pinched his own
arm. It hurt. He was drunk, but not dreaming. Dad always said, ‘If
you keep talking to yourself, eventually someone will answer …’ but fuck, really?
living, I was known as Shinji … .”
“Shinji it is.”
“Yes … I am a ghost.” While Shinji made booing noises, his anger seemed to
wane. “Though, having a body again could be useful.”
a body?” After rubbing his temples, Zack stretched his back.
body will be mine!”
Ignoring the obvious threat,
Zack took a deep breath and looked into the star-lit sky. I hope I can hold
down — He dry heaved.
unloaded the last of the food in his stomach onto the gravestone then — with his pinstriped suit jacket — scrubbed
the sour tasting liquid from his lips. Several, long moments later, he staggered back onto the pathway.
“You can read my thoughts?”
am in your head … .” Shinji growled. “So … how did you end up pissing on my grave?”
Well … . Zack stared at the daunting overpass. I hate stairs.
not stalling. Zack took the first step. I broke up with my girlfriend
earlier today and went out to drink my sorrows away. …
that day, the sun shined bright. Zack pulled the buzzing cellphone from his
pocket. “Fuck … really?” he said
crowd jostled Zack, and the smell of week-old socks hung in the air; Akihabara
normally carried a much harsher stench. In
Electric-City, the flashing
lights and screaming solicitors made for a wonderful spectacle. While he removed his sunglasses, the wind brushed past his short, blond hair; the girls loved his
deep, hazel eyes. Despite being outside all the time, his complexion was
still paler than every other foreigner
thank you.” Zack pushed past a contact lens
salesman. “I have good eyes.” He winked, and the girl behind the
solicitor blushed. It seems
like my Japanese has improved.
best part about Akihabara was that
most of the other foreigners would leave
after dark. The Hub became an ideal
place to meet people and practice Japanese. When his cellphone rang
a second time, Zack made sure to
stand among the deafening speakers.
stared at his cellphone. She
needs to stop calling. Before
flipping it open, he sighed. “Yes. … What do you want?”
want to break up.” Sena sniffled. Her English was still a bit choppy.
is perfect … .. Zack rolled his eyes. “You called me for
hesitated. “I never want to see you again.”
cringed. She sounds serious this time.
His chest heaved, but he maintained his
composure. “Fine … but I’m
staying in the apartment until I can afford to move.”
Sena hung up with a crack.
to get double-drunk. While Zack
strode into The Hub, he hummed. “Long
Island Ice tea,” he said, switching to
was a bit early, so Zack had his choice of seats. He took a booth in the backroom and went through two
more Long-Islands before Happy Hour ended.
The smooth music flowed in one ear and
out the other. Nothing registered in his mind. With the help of alcohol, he
avoided crying over Sena — not by much though. By the time he finished
his fourth, people began to pile in by the dozens. The bounce returned to his step.
grinned at the two cute girls who stood in line ahead of him. “How are you two doing tonight?” He tightened his
favorite pink tie and straightened the pinstriped suit-jacket.
girls giggled and stepped up to order. While
the black-haired one wearing
purple lipstick turned to face Zack,
the one with red-dyed hair and
glasses pointed at the menu. Purple-lipstick
smiled, and the fact that she didn’t know a word of English was written across her face.
about you two come sit with me?” Without
breaking eye contact, Zack slid to the second register and ordered
another Long-Island. Afterwards, he
gestured the girls towards his booth.
Purple-lipstick grew bouncy. “Are you
alone tonight?” She took her drink and followed Zack.
now.” Zack winked. Sena is already out of my thoughts.
Yuki and my friend’s name is Moe. And
Zack. Are you from around Tokyo?”
Yuki smiled. “I’m from Japan.”
shit. I said around Tokyo. …”
“Oh … yeah, I live in Chiba.”
Zack scratched at his two-day beard. “Me too. What part?”
have some friends down that way. I live in Nishi-Funabashi.”
that’s close.” Yuki began to fiddle with her hair then brushed it back over her ear.
worked his charms on the girls, and they melted in his hands. For some reason,
a foreigner speaking Japanese was like a magic show; it captivated everyone — well, everyone who didn’t hate magic.
walked into the bedroom and dropped her glass of water. “What?”
shattering sound echoed through the room, causing the two shadowed figures in
the bed to sit up. While Shun’s
eyes widened, the woman glared at
Keiko. The sweet smell of sex covered the walls like a thick paste; so much so
that Keiko thought she could taste the salty flavor of infidelity.
flipped on the light-switch. Tears
rimmed her eyes. “What are you doing, Shun?” Her voice cracked, and she found
herself wishing that her boyfriend had been a foreigner like in all the recent TV dramas; they never cheated like this. Or better yet, like the man in her
recent dreams, the Emperor of her soul
… though, she would apparently have to share
him with another … but at least he would be
honest about it. “I said, what do you think you’re doing?”
Keiko released Light and
threw together a Blasting-Piece.
stumbled from the bed. “I can exp—”
massive beam of white, hot energy ripped through the wall next to his head, and
Shun froze in place. The slut in his bed squealed. Despite that, she was still able to release Light into the air around the bed. She wanted to fight? The back of Keiko’s neck itched.
embraced the ecstasy and gritted her teeth while the power washed over her — in its wake, she relived last
night’s sex with Shun. Trying to fight off the elation, she released Light from both hands.
stepped between the two girls and held a hand out towards each. “Eka, don’t you recognize her?”
Eka’s brown eyes bulged, and she dispersed her power. Climbing to her knees, she bowed her
head low. “Sorry … .”
While she balanced herself between rage and grief, Keiko held onto her power. She began to paint, moving both hands through the air and crafting
images with the Light. “I could understand if we had not agreed to be in
an exclusive relationship —”
… .” Shun gulped. With chattering teeth,
he watched Keiko form a pair of forest
backgrounds. “I thought you had
gone out of town this morning —”
up!” Once four stars — the keys — were
inserted into each painting above the trees, the Blasting-Pieces wrapped around
Keiko’s hands and released a pair
of energy bolts from her palms, disintegrating the two pictures of her on the far wall. “Eat shit and die!”
After turning, she stomped from the room. “I never want to
see your face again!”
… wait!” Shun moved towards the
jump off a bridge!” Keiko grabbed
her purse and strode out of Shun’s apartment, slamming the door behind her.
Apparently, Shun made no attempt to follow her.
Keiko’s anger waned, and the tears begin to flow freely. I hate all Japanese men! She bit into her lower-lip and fell into a
sat the remains of his sixth Long-Island on the table and looked at his watch.
The numbers blurred together, so
he squinted. “Damn … only ten
minutes till my last train.” He scrambled out of his chair and turned towards
the bar. “Time for one more Long-Island!”
plaques on the wall were no longer visible. The entire bar cheered. He had been
putting on a show for everyone: being friendly, telling jokes and chugging
drinks. Before he went home, they wanted him to guzzle one more. The cute girls left earlier, but
they had given him their
numbers before doing so. If everything went according to the plan
forming in his head, the three of them would have dinner later in the
week. Everything was looking up,
and that made him dizzy.
Long-Island, please.” After taking his
drink, Zack returned to the center table and held his glass high.
stopped, and the smell of fried fish wafted into his face. Zack was hungry and
stuffed at the same time. His head spun.
He counted to three, and then bottoms up. While he drank, the drunken crowd clapped. He looked at the time; five minutes until
his last train.
guys … I got to go!” Zack checked his
pockets and ran off towards the train station.
few people around the station stood just far enough apart to prevent Zack from
sprinting. The smell of week-old underwear drifted across the platform and
turned his stomach. After pushing past a group of children, he spun around an inebriated couple. The
train was there, and the doors were closing.
All other thoughts slipped from Zack’s mind. He pushed an old man out of the
way while he slid onto the train.
old man cursed.
Zack turned with a
deadpan stare. “Sor—” Vomit spewed from
his mouth, covering the old man
from head to toe.
The doors shut.
Finally … my ecstasy has been refilled. Natsumi zipped her pants up
and stared at the two naked men sprawled across the conference room table. “I
expect that there will no longer be an issue with my building permits.”
The fat, building
inspector, Kensuke, pushed himself up with his hands. While breathing heavily,
he grinned. “I suspect everything is in order.”
“Good … .” Once Natsumi
pulled her bra into place, she glanced at the government official, Haruki. “And
Haruki grunted, but the
paper-thin man did not sit up. “All … paid for and up to date.”
Natsumi pulled her dark
green shirt on and ran her fingers through her blond-dyed hair, flicking it
outside of her shirt. “Excellent.” She spun to the door of the room. “I will
have my associates contact you in the morning.” Before stepping out of the
conference room, she grabbed her purse. The door clicked shut behind her.
The low, night lights
flickered in the hallway while Natsumi walked down it. Despite coating the two
men with perfume beforehand, the rank smell of body odor clung to her skin. A
buzzing hum radiated from her jeans.
Natsumi pulled her
cellphone out and flipped it open. “It is done. We will not have any more trouble
from the government.”
“You are amazing,” Fuji
said, voice squeaking through the phone like some oversized rat.
“Tell me something I do
“Well … your father is currently
undertaking some big operation.”
“I do not care.” Natsumi
shook her head. “Do you have anything relevant to report?”
Fuji laughed. “What has
you on edge?”
These strange dreams that I keep seeing. “Nothing.”
“Alright … .”
“Just get back to work.”
Natsumi sighed. “I will come straight to your place.”
Groaning, Natsumi closed
her cellphone with more force than she had intended. Why do my dreams, of all
things, have me on edge? While she returned the cellphone to her purse, her
hands trembled. I will never settle down
with just one man, and even if I did, I would not share him. “Foreigner,”
she spat the word like a curse. “There … is no way that would ever happen.”
The gray SUV parked on the
curve beside the building cranked its engine when Natsumi approached. By the time
she climbed into the passenger seat, she had pushed her thoughts away. After
she instructed the driver where he was to take her, the SUV peeled out, tires
Zack’s cellphone alarm went off, and he nearly
jumped out of his skin. Where am I? He glared at the sign before
standing to step off the train. “Home … .”
and women drunker than Zack packed
the stairs leading up. Their rancid smell nauseated Zack. He stopped
breathing through his nose and looked down. Happy that his suit was still
clean, he took one step at a time and held onto the handrail.
a bit further. Once he reached
the top of the stairs, Zack
straightened his back. I should
go to the bathroom.
cute girl wobbled in front of Zack
and smiled. “Hey foreigner, where are you going?”
“Your place?” Nailed it.
She took Zack’s hand and used it to keep from falling over. “Come with me.” She pulled
him around the flower stand and into the handicapped bathroom. She was quick
with her fingers, unbuttoning his pants and inside his silky boxers before he
could even voice a word of protest.
“Well … this was unexpected.” Zack closed his
eyes and let the dark-skinned Japanese girl have her way with him. His world contorted. His body quivered.
Goosebumps ran along his arms.
Right as they finished fucking, the station attendants banged
on the door. They forced Zack to
rush through the gate, thus preventing him from actually using the bathroom. He stumbled out of the station and down
the stairs on his way home. He started
singing his favorite Journey songs, a mistake considering he walked past
the Daily Yamazaki — a convenience-store.
don’t … think I can make it
home. When he reached the long
stretch, Zack slowed, feeling the
full force of the Long-Islands. I think I’m … going to hurl again …
and I’ve … got to piss like
Gasping the entire time, Zack crossed the overpass and strolled down
the street. Yeah, that’s basically how I remember it. He turned at the
Shinji harrumphed. “You lied … you went out to drink, then your girlfriend broke up with you.”
don’t remember it that way, but sure.
sighed, and it was as if his rage had melted away completely after hearing Zack’s story. “So … .”
signs flashed on the side of the Love-Hotel behind his apartment and
illuminated the streets. A pattern of close cropped apartments followed by a
vast open space littered the area. The constant sounds of construction rang
through the air. Night was the only time the oil-like stench wasn’t thick
enough to taste. A good thing,
since it always made Zack gag.
shuffled forward as if he were a zombie. “So … who are you again?”
am Shinji, remember?”
yeah. And how did you get into my head?
pissed on my grave.”
that some type of code?
should kill you.”
a voice … I don’t think
you’re capable of that. Zack laughed while he fumbled in his pocket for the key. Besides, how does
pissing on someone’s grave implant a two-way communication device in your head?
“Two-way … communication device?” Shinji
know … kind of like a
cell … phone?”
else could you speak to me inside of my head? Zack tilted each ear to the
ground and tapped his head. “Nothing fell out. …” He unlocked the
door and took his shoes off. After
stumbling through the narrow
hallway, he spun into the kitchen. He stuck his head
under the sink and drank his fill.
woke my spirit, and now I will take your body as my own.”
yes … that sounds real
plausible. Zack stumbled into his
bedroom and dropped his clothes on the floor before falling face
first into the bed. Once he
cracked his back, he pulled the
covers around himself. “Good night, Shinji.”
stared into pink clouds, and
warmth washed over his body. Where am I?
wooded trail led him to two towering mountains — one black and the other
white. They stood in Zack’s path and ordered him to climb their monstrous peaks. Both threatened to kill him if he
I don’t understand … .
chest thumped. The demands pounded against
his reason until an eerie silence drifted through the air. A stale wind
carried the stench of rotting meat. He gagged, and his stomach turned. On the way up, the acidic bile burned his
throat and on the way out, his mouth. The dirt at his feet — oddly — didn’t absorb the vomit.
just go back —” Zack turned to
watch the ground fall away into nothingness. “Yeah … this won’t end well.”
mountains daunted him and screamed of danger. Climbing either could mean
certain death, yet climbing neither ensured it. The ground behind him continued
to vanish, urging him forward.
won’t choose either!” Zack’s voice
bounded through the winding paths that led around each of the mountains.
Suddenly, Zack’s shadow pulled away from
his body and wrapped its hands around his neck. He stumbled forward, struggling
against the shadow. The harder he fought, the more impossible victory seemed.
His head felt light. While prying
at the fingers, he gained no
ground. Soon, he gave in and let
the shadow wash over him. It pulled his insides like a wave’s undertow. His soul thumped. Silence. Then … he
found peace, and with an unseen force, crushed the
mountains before him.
Zack stepped towards the ruined mountains.
He screamed like a school girl when
a massive, Godzilla-like monster rose from their ashes.
monster lit the land afire and rampaged unchecked. Zack reached out with the unseen force again and was rebuffed. He attacked the
ground at its feet. Nothing. No matter how many rocks he hurled or strikes he attempted,
nothing worked. He slumped until a twinkle caught his eye. After looking up into the sky, he saw a string attached to the beast. If only he could cut that
I focus … .” Zack felt something draw the breath from his body, and he
gritted his teeth. “I can’t fail now!” His muscles trembled. With a burning pain echoing through his bones, he fell to his knees.
I … can’t … .