Birth of a Hero [Erina] Dec 17, 2018 20:41:59 GMT -6
Post by Densetsu Karu on Dec 17, 2018 20:41:59 GMT -6
Date: April 20, 2003 Sunday
Time: 11:30 AM
The words were soulless; a formality from one machine to another.
Karu reached forward and gently grasped the bento that contained his lunch. His grandmother smiled, pleased at his acceptance of her efforts, but beneath the expression he could see the worry in her eyes. Pah. He had never asked for her worry, or or help. She wasted her time with his lunch every day. Even when he went to school, where he could simply take a trip to the cafeteria, Karu's grandmother painstakingly filled a bento with food for him. Sure, her food tasted better than the slop at the cafeteria, but it's not like that mattered in the long run. The food would return to dust all the same.
That's the directive of parents and grandparents, though: to dote on their successors, to help them survive in this cold world. A machine whose job is to ensure the next machine in the chain performs well. With time, he too would become that machine. How pitiful.
Karu slid the boxed lunch into his bag. He wanted to go out for a walk. Clear his mind. Get out of his own head, if only for a moment. All of the cynicism that had clouded his thoughts for the first week of his freshman year was bogging him down. Today was a day for cleansing, if he could manage it. Walking had a therapeutic effect on him, and as such, it was his preferred way of clearing his mind. He would have left the house earlier, but his grandmother insisted he wait so that she could supply him with food. She wanted him to have something to eat since it was getting close to That Arbitrary Time in the Middle of the Day Where Everyone Decides You Should Eat a Meal. He had obliged, not out of a need for food, but because it took more energy to argue than it did to wait in a chair by the window for twenty minutes.
With his lunch acquired, Karu said goodbye and made his way to the door. His grandmother followed him to the door, but he did not engage with her further. Wordlessly, he stepped outside and walked away from his grandparents' house.
~ ~ ~
He walked for some time; eventually, Karu had found himself in one of the popular local parks of Hikarizaka. He hadn't planned to end up here, but he was here nonetheless. Normally his mind was a storm of thoughts and feelings, but of them all, the most pervasive feeling was emptiness, like that of a gaping abyss that threatened to swallow him in its darkness. By walking through Hikarizaka, taking in the scenery around him, watching other, happier machines move about in their daily lives, he could feel that emptiness fighting with a rising feeling of optimism. No, not quite as hopeful as optimism -- it was as if he was balancing on a tightrope along the border between the abyss in his heart and that sweet yet transient feeling of contentedness.
“Pathetic,” he mumbled to himself, deeming his thought processes melodramatic and excessively angsty, but he was powerless to stop them.
It was then that he heard shouting. On the tightrope in his mind, he slipped, but managed to keep his balance. He craned his neck, searching for the source of the sound; in only a moment, he spotted another machine who was shouting into the open air only a few meters to his right. It was looking at the lake nearby, babbling on about the beauty of the scenery... or something. He had been so lost in his own mind that he hadn't noticed this machine's presence. He kept watching it for a few moments as it continued to speak loudly despite no one being there with it. Then the machine pulled a pink phone from its pocket. It fumbled with the phone for a moment, and then held it up to eye level, pointed towards the lake. Taking a picture?
“Waaaaaah~! Ai-chan needs to bring me food nooow!” it shouted, frustration in its voice as it continued to try to adjust the angle of the phone's camera.
Why was this machine... acting like this? He felt himself drawn towards the machine, his curiosity taking hold of him. In his mind, he slipped again, this time unable to catch himself as he tumbled away from the abyss. He did not realize it, but a seedling of excitement and hope sprouted in his heart. He took a step toward the machi- no, the girl. Then another, and another. What was he doing? What would he say? Why was he approaching this stranger? He continued to question himself as he moved closer to her. Fear of his own uncharacteristic actions caused adrenaline to begin to surge through him.
In spite of himself, he stayed his course, and in a moment, he was standing only a few feet behind her. She's hungry, right? That's what she was shouting about. So, naturally... Karu removed the bento from his bag, holding it by his side. He waited there, trying to decide exactly how to announce himself. Each second was an eternity as adrenaline continued to flow through his veins. It took all of his energy to fight back that instinct to flee. He had come too far already. “Pardon me,” he said softly, “I overheard that you were hungry.” He forced a smile, but it looked more pained than cheerful.