A/N: This is the first piece of any length I have written for quite some time. It is still in progress, any comments are appreciated. If you catch anything unintentional grammar-wise, please notify me. It's still fairly far from completion, so I apologize for anything that seems overly bizarre or disconnected. I want to flesh out the part where she is lying on the bed a bit, I'm just tired at the moment and will do it another day.
"Man kills son, himself."
"Suicide bomber blows up local church, 12 killed, 32 wounded."
"Latest celebrity gossip."
I sipped my tea and read the paper as the sun sank low in the sky. My day off was drawing to a close and I chose to spend it relaxing at an outdoor cafe. I smiled to myself, these days were always nice. If there were one thing I liked about religion, it would be God resting on the last day.
"Head of Temple to meet with Patriarch."
"Terrorists attack famous monument."
"How to stay out of debt!"
I sighed, this was such a troubled world we lived in.
"Umm... Excuse me..."
I looked up from the paper I was reading. There was a thin, pale girl looking at me with a confused look on her face.
"Yes?" I asked.
"Where am I?" she asked me.
"I'm sorry..." she said. "I do this sometimes... I... I get lost."
"Oh, no problem, hmm..." I paused for a moment, thinking of the best description of the location would be to give. "Unida Mall is about two blocks in that direction," I pointed to the east. "Seventy-third street runs right along here," I pointed to the road beside us.
"Oh my..." she sighed. "I seem to be a long way from where I need to be."
"Where do you need to be?"
"I live on Dominion Street," she half-heartedly laughed.
That was in the old part of town. The town started out with lettered streets, but as it expanded they switched to numbers. The street she lived on was at least seventy or so blocks away from here.
"That's pretty far away..." I said.
"That's okay, I guess I'll just take a bus... oh..? ... eh?" she started looking around. "Uh... wahhh..."
I noticed she was wearing a uniform, a high school girl no doubt, long grey plaid skirt, black socks, and a dark blue blazer.
"What's wrong?" I asked her. "Lose something?"
"Ah... yes... my purse... ah..." she looked a bit exasperated.
"That is quite troublesome," I said, wondering if I should just help her or try to take advantage of the situation. I usually considered myself a nice person, but it wasn't often that a girl just approached me out of the blue.
"Yes... it is. I... I... I-I..." she winced and reached for her forehead.
"Are you alright?" I asked her.
"Here, sit down," I got up and pulled a chair out for her and helped her to sit down.
"Th-Thank you..." she seemed to be slipping in and out of reality.
"Would you like something to drink?" I asked her. "Ah, waiter, over here please!"
The waiter came over, I ordered her a mint tea hoping it would help her a bit.
I looked at her. She was staring at the table, her head would nod forward then bob back up, as if she were falling asleep.
"Are you alright?" I asked her.
"Ah!" her face shot up at me. "Ah, sorry, yes I'm fine."
"Are you sure? Do you need me to call someone? A friend perhaps?"
"Ah... no, I'll be fine."
The waiter brought the tea out, he placed it in front of her and she thanked him for it.
She sipped it, closing her eyes she inhaled the mint scent. I could tell it helped her a bit.
"Ah!" she opened her eyes. "How do I pay for this?"
" Don't worry about it," I said. There was no harm in buying her a cup of tea. I didn't have much money, but it wasn't expensive.
"Ah, thank you... ummm..."
"Haajk. Mohkano Haajk."
"Ah, thank you very much Mohkano-san. Your first name is strange, what are the letters for it?" she asked.
"Heh, it's not in this language, but..." I took a pencil from my pocket and drew the characters that I used for my name on the margin of my newspaper.
"Hmm... Those don't seem to mean anything."
"They don't really," I told her.
"Write it in the right language. Do you speak that language?" she asked.
"Nah, my father did though," I wrote it out. 'H - A - A - J - K'
"Those are english letters," she said. "hajk, hah-jack, hah-ajk, hah-a-juck... oh..."
She seemed frustrated trying to pronounce it phonetically in english.
"It's not english, I think it's from the CIC area, one of the old northern commonwealth countries.
"Ah, I see," she said. "Can you say it one more time?"
I said it, "It's pronounced like... roughly like the english word 'kayak' without a 'k' at the beginning."
"Ah," she smiled at me.
I smiled back at her, this brought back memories from high school. Those endless, yet carefully metered days.
"One thousand four hundred and sixty one..." I said.
"Hmm?" she asked me.
"You're in high school aren't you?"
"At midnight my freshman year, a friend of mine called me and she told me that we only had one thousand four hundred and sixty one days left to live. I thought she was crazy then, but now I wonder if that were the truth after all."
"You think so?" the girl asked me. "It doesn't seem like anything special."
"Nothing is special until it's over," I looked at my watch. It was getting late. I heard her giggle a bit. "Hmm?"
"Is that a girl's watch?" she asked me.
"Yes," I sighed. "Men's watches usually hurt my wrists, they're too large and heavy."
"Ah," she smiled and looked down at her tea.
We sat there for a moment. I looked past her the last rays of the sun bleeding from the sky, she stared down at her tea, trance-like. It had turned to a red color in the light of the dusk.
I sat there for a few minutes, taking it in, reminiscing. I had been sitting in a place similar to this a long time ago. It was sometime back when those thousand-odd days had ticked down to nearly none
"About getting home..." I started.
"Mhm..." she nodded... but she didn't stop. I waited for a second and looked at her. She just kept nodding and nodding and nodding and... whump. She collapsed on the table.
"Hey, are you alright?" I asked her, I was somewhat concerned about her, she didn't seem to be quite normal.
I walked over to her and shook her shoulder, "Hello?"
I noticed a small silver bracelet on her slim wrist.
"Hmm..." I flipped over the small plate on it, it had a word inscribed on it: "Narcoleptic"
It seemed to make sense, but this was slightly troubling. It was dark out now, and to leave her here by herself seemed a terrible thing to do, I didn't want some strange man to come and ravage her body while she slept. On the other hand, if I were to take her to my apartment, I would then become the strange man. The law probably wouldn't care about this situation, and truthfully, I would almost rather leave her here than hand her over to the soldiers.
"Gah..." I sat back down in my chair wondering what I should do. I needed a cigarette, I don't smoke, but sometimes I fancy that I do.
"Now this is an interesting situation..." I felt a hand on my shoulder.
I jumped, startled. I looked up at the person standing behind me, it was a young girl, roughly the same age as the one across from me, but her eyes seemed older.
"You're wondering what to do, aren't you?" she asked me, grinning.
Her smile disturbed me, it was crooked and strange, she obviously didn't practice it much. Her hair was odd as well. It shone in the street-light, it was a sleek dark-purple.
"No, I don't dye it," she told me, before I asked. "But anyway, you're debating on whether you should leave her here at the mercy of the night, take her home with you, or hand her over to the goons." She paused her for a moment, then snickered, "I hate those bastards. You'd do best to just bring her home until she wakes up, she seems to be an understanding girl and you seem to be an honest man, a rare kind of man at that. Don't contact the authorities, if you plan to do that, you might as well just leave her here, the night is kinder than the law. And..."
She leaned over me and picked up the pencil on the table to write something down on the newspaper. I noticed she was rather short and from the pressure of her hand on my shoulder, her weight seemed almost anorexic. Her long hair fell down past her shoulders and seemed to be made of black silk.
"There," she said, setting down the pencil and standing upright. "That's my number. If you get arrested or something, call me... that is assuming they don't shoot you first."
She grinned her crooked grin again. Her eyes danced as if laughing at some joke I was not aware of.
She turned and began to walk away, I considered calling out to her as she left, but then realized I had nothing to say to her. She was wearing a long dark grey dress, in the style that was somewhat popular with young girls, but her's was much more modest, hardly an inch of skin shown. She wore long boots beneath the dress, and I could have sworn they were authentic soldier's boots, polished to a dime.
I heard her singing in her soft voice.
"He is gone to be a soldier in the army of the lord, he is gone to be a soldier in the army of the lord," I watched her kick a small rock on the sidewalk. "He is gone to be a soldier in the army of the lord, his soul is marching on.
Glory, halle-hallelujah, glory..." she was drowned out by a passing truck and was out of earshot by the time it was gone
I had never heard that song before, it was certainly strange.
"Mmm..." I looked at the number that she wrote "Insurrection 1-55-55-7357"
"Insurrection?" I thought to myself. She had a very odd aura about her, I didn't quite know what to make of it.
I figured I'd wait until I had finished my tea and see if the girl had revived by then.
I had hardly took a sip however when a man walked up to me. He was a military officer, evident from his clean, yet strangely unranked uniform. Usually it was wise to count the number of bars on a soldier's cloth and make a reaction accordingly, but this man, though pressed and starched in true fashion, bore no such markings.
"Excuse me good sir," he began. He had a tired and worn face with a pair of small round glasses that perched in a somewhat disheveled manner upon his prominent nose. "Might you have seen an odd girl wandering around here? Possibly singing a strange song?"
He was definitely a foreign officer, educated in the neutral states of the east, his accent betrayed his heritage through the olive-colored Union uniform.
I pointed down the street in the direction that the girl had gone, he sighed a bit.
"Thank you, sir," he said. He made a slight bow and hurriedly walked on his way.
I looked down at the last bit of tea left in my china glass, wondering what the waiter had slipped in it. I threw back a final drink from my glass and set it down on the white china saucer that was glazed with green leaf.
The girl did not seem to stir, so I waved the waiter over and asked for my check.
"Ah, but comrade-san," he said. "A friend of the Union is a friend of this establishment!"
He was smiling at me nervously, apparently distrustful of my interactions with the "military."
"Thank you," I smiled back at him. "It is appreciated." I was not one to pass up free drink.
He nodded and returned to his post.
I lifted the girl from her chair, she was surprisingly light. I had intended to carry her home on my shoulders, however despite not being short, she was light enough for me to carry in my arms.
I walked down the sidewalk to where my apartment complex was, careful to stay near the edges of the streetlights. Always allow enough light to be cast on yourself to be able to be seen if in danger, but never enough to attract danger.
The girl seemed to grow a bit heavier with each block that I walked, though I did not live too far and was standing before my door just as I feared I would not be able to walk another block. My apartment was in one of the older complexes and used a keypad entry, I fumbled to enter the seven digit code and wished briefly that I could afford a nicer apartment, perhaps with one of the retina scanners instead of this crude device.
The door clicked open however, and I walked in, closing the door behind me. I kicked off my shoes at the door, walked straight back to the back of the darkened room and laid her on my half-made cot. Cool light-blue rays from the street lamp illuminated lines across her face from the slits on the blinds.
I slipped off her shoes, brown penny loafers, and carried them back to the entrance way and set them beside my own.
Returning to the cot, I checked her vital signs, everything seemed to be normal. I adjusted the blankets so that she was underneath the white standard issue blanket that I had picked up from a junk shop a year or so ago. It would be cool tonight, but not overly so. My wing of the complex had no functional heating system, so I relied on a space heater and kotatsu in the winter, though I didn't think either would be necessary tonight.
I looked around at my living quarters, it was a small economy place, not much to offer, but I did get what I paid for. It seemed a bit dirty though, I picked up a few old papers and wrappers and put them in a bag to be thrown out in the morning. It wasn't really an improvement, though she'd probably leave a few moments after waking up, so it did not seem too important.
Out of the cupboard in the corner of the room came my extra bedding, a pillow with a yellowed floral print and a muted green-blue plaid patterned sheet. I made a small place on the floor for myself using it and laid down to sleep. It did not seem proper to undress myself for bed with a girl present, and it never bothered me to sleep in my clothes, tonight would be no different than those nights I spent writing papers until the crack of dawn.
I counted stucco dots until sleep overcame me.