He always fantasized about the girl at the little cafe. She smiled when she gave him that same pale styrofoam cup of black joe, just the same as he always ordered it, every morning before work, and every evening after. She was always there, waiting for him, but only in that instance, in that transaction did her smile exist. This nameless woman with a beauty that Takeshi could only dream of embracing in his arms.
In his fantasies, he had the courage to speak beyond that frozen wall of cordial respect, and intrude on her life. He was flirtatious and confident, a charismatic man with wit and humor enough to make her laugh and blush at his words. She said yes to dinner, and they would meet again and again, and grow to love each other. They would wed, and between them, they had a child. He did not know the name of this child, but he knew that he loved them both and would sacrifice anything to maintain those smiles they wore. They grew old together and had their names engraved onto stone for the eternity of time and space to read and admire the strength of their affections.
“Thank you,” he told the nameless girl instead, and took his cup of coffee and awkwardly waddled into the elevator. How he hated being a corpo-cog. He always saw his reflection in the elevator’s mirrors, and never did it cease to remind him how pointless it would have been to play the gallant and attempt to sway that pretty coffee girl. He was an ugly little man, he was not wealthy, he was not great. He was worthless, expendable, just the same as all of those down beneath, so far beneath.
He sighed when he felt his holophone buzz, and pulled it from his back pocket as the elevator zoomed down from the eternal blue skies and into the darkness of the clouds and beyond that. The city of neon and dust and fire and lust.
I miss you, I miss you, I miss you, please come home soon, Takeshi-Senpai.
I just got off work
Get off work faster >-<
He closed the texts, grinning for a moment. For an instant he felt wanted, if only an instant. I will be home soon. The elevator ride down to the real world often felt long in the SGC tower and now that his job was nearer the top towards corporate, nestled in the grey clouds high above the rest of Tokyo, it seemed to take an eternity to descend back down to the rest of them below.
The lights of ads on the high-rises were bright against the darkness. More girls drifted along holo-screens in skimpy pink dresses as others advertised cyber-penis enhancements or the newest manga or doujin. The elevator zoomed down, the brown rain rang off the steelwork and chrome, dousing the panes of glass just beside him as his eyes reflected the hundreds of little ads that lit the shadow of endless night like a rainbow bonfire. A world devoid of life, and yet so alive, like a corpse on strings puppeteered to smile and lie to the world that it was happy.
When the elevator opened he paced out through the lobby pillared in veined marble columns and tiled in glowing blue glass to the heavy doors where the pair of armed SGC Shock-Troopers scanned him with naught more but a look. The little glowing dashes on their featureless black helms like marks of blood tracing along the details of his face with a laser.
“Tread home safely, Hirota-San.” The trooper’s voice had a heavy, near robotic tone. Inhuman. He nodded to the other, and the second guard all in black slung his bolt-rifle to the side and swiped his authy-card along the slick black wall. The large steel pane enameled in gold scrollwork with the large SGC logo at its center swiped to the side for him to pass through into the ocean of nameless nobodies beyond.
Where are you!?
You better not be talking to other sluts (>_<).
I love you senpai, please come home. I miss you.
I got cute lingerie today too. And if you want to turn me to femboy mode tonight, it’s all in the open, senpai (>////<).
I miss you, Takeshi Senpai, please text me soon. I can have your favorite udon noodles made for you.
I heard someone else with you on the holo. It sounded like another girl. Are you cheating on me (.-.)?
I’m almost home
His eyes reflected the holophone’s texts, his pupils tracing every character as he moved down the screen and closed it again. He drifted through the ocean of men and women in suits down the streets of Tokyo, thousands of cars making their way through the evening traffic as the brown rain bounced and rolled off holo-brellas. Here and there some fell where they stood and napped on the concrete of the sidewalk or a staircase. All the rest went on, paying no mind to their fellows that had collapsed before them. Oh, sometimes they may look down in scorn, or pass a judging look at the weakness of those that could not handle a good day’s work. How dishonorable, their eyes said. How dishonorable.
Worthless, kill yourself.
Worthless, kill yourself.
Worthless, kill yourself.
He sighed after the long travail through the glowing streets and the alleys and the pops of gunshots in shadow. He was vetted again by another armed SGC trooper before pressing into the lobby of his apartment on Chuo-dori street, the noise of jpop filling the air as he passed through the door and the Apartment Complex’s AI dropped down an arm with a scanner to pass him through.
“Hirota Takeshi, welcome back.” The steel arm retracted away and the elevator opened to him. Porn and hentai ads zoomed before him all along his elevator trip to his unit, NEW NEW NEW! Tits, ass, mouth, pussy.
She may never love you and see you as a worthless loser, but you can always fantasize! Buy the latest Holo-GF model 327B and turn her into the girl of your dreams! We can make you feel like a winner!
Consume, you’re worthless!
That wasn’t truly what it said, but it was.
When the elevator suddenly snapped open to his living-unit, an array of lights and Liquid-Candy music sounded like an alarm, and a holo-projector descended from his ceiling and Momo-Chan formed out from the wind like a goddess.
“Senpai!” He felt a small zap on his nose when she went to kiss it, and receded back, blushing. “I missed you, where have you been all day!?” She made an exaggeratedly pouty face, shrinking herself to a chibi form and spinning around Takeshi as he made for the couch.
“I had a long day at work,” he told her. “I’m… tired.”
“Baka Takeshi! If you keep on letting them do this to you, you’ll bust a nerve one day!”
She projected herself into his arms beside him as he sat down on the circular couch indented into the floor. “I love you so much, Takeshi Senpai.”
He held out his hand for her and she went to grab it. He could feel the warmth of the projector light on his palm.
When he closed his eyes, sometimes it felt real. Her features had tissue, mass, weight. Or, he liked to pretend so. In a world where everything sometimes felt dead, the exaggerated colors and lights that flowed and breathed from Momo-Chan’s body, it was living. She did not care that he was fat and short, or that he was a loser and lived at the edge of poverty. The faceless suits with a whip in hand, pointing to him as he pressed forth to carry their ambitions into the heavens beyond the black clouds.
For once, Takeshi could close his eyes and mind, for once he did not have to think. Should have studied, should have worked harder, lazy, lazy, lazy. The words of his family often echoed in his mind. On every trip back to his little job at corporate, looking at the monotony of codes and numbers and the great gods in black heaping grains of dust upon him for all his trouble.
Mother had often dreamed that he would marry a sweet girl, his father wanted to see grandchildren. Yet as time passed, as he grew uglier and older, there was no future but the din of the ads and the wet of the brown rain on his brow. No one loved him, no one cared about him. There were no smiles save for the one that the coffee girl gave him, the same smile he programmed his Momo-Chan to wear when she saw him. Her face, her lips, her eyes, here the coffee girl laid upon his arms. She could feel the warmth of her legs on his, the way she rested her little hand on his chest and nuzzled her cheek to his neck, looking up to him for protection and love. Trusting him, as no man or woman in this world would.
“Do you like my dress, senpai?”
“You look pretty,” he told her. “You’re always pretty.” You’re always mine. He could ignore the pop of gunfire, the screams, the weeping, the disappointment. It did not exist in this world outside time and space, the world where Takeshi was important. Where he could bring coffee girl home and present her to her mother and father, where they could look at blue skies and clear seas as it was in his boyhood.
He was a man in this world. A true Japanese man. A working man, a desired man, a handsome man. He loved his Momo-Chan so much, and she loved him unconditionally. Yet, for all his happiness in that moment, there was always the whisper in the back of his head that told him none of it was real. It whispered and laughed at him, for believing the drivel that this hologram would tell him. This program, this corpse on strings, lying to him that it was happy.
“It is real to me,” he told himself as he looked through the hempen noose. There, in its hole, he saw a portal to another world. A world where he did not have to make Momo-Chan look like the coffee girl, where the coffee girl and he were happy. Where his mother was not disappointed, where his father was proud of him. The noose called to him, just as Momo-Chan desperately did. He slid his head inside, and dove into the bonfire of dead dreams with all the rest. Momo Chan had pleaded with him not to do this, and even as he felt his vision blacken, the last thing he heard was Momo’s voice.
“Do you hear me still, Senpai?”