Category Archives: Standalone Shorts
Mitsuko came with her Louis Vuitton bag into their makeshift home. She gave Alex a kiss on the cheek, as young girls with over-grown and under-exercised libido are sometimes wont to. Alex wasn’t her real name but it was what she asked everyone in the neighborhood to do and nobody could find a good reason to say otherwise.
The search for new fashions can lead to a treacherous road. Sure, it was fun to lead the salarymen on in their desperate, ever-futile pursuit of someone who would give them back the youth they lost to years of cram school and drudgery at whatever outworn spinny chair they sat in at work, but once that gets old, there are choices to be made. Choices between a roof over your head or cutting-edge, name-brand fashion.
Yet, as far as cardboard boxes go, it could have been worse. A worn picture of Arashi was primly taped to the wall and they had enough vinyl umbrellas to keep their make-up – not to mention their 20,000 yen Chanel dresses – dry in the guerilla rains that came in during the spring months. Life wasn’t easy, but at least they could look fabulous.
Mitsuko and Alex held hands as the old guy passed them by. To say why they held hands would be difficult to pinpoint. Largely it was just habit. They had only met a few weeks ago but, with all the guys who would approach them being either lame or AV scouts (you accept one time for some quick cash and suddenly they all think you’ll go with anybody!), it was almost only to be expected that they would be easier say “I’m a lesbian, can’t you see?” and end the conversation quickly.
In any case, the old guy walked by every day. He never said a word but always leered into their tiny abode. After he left, it was the same time-killing conversation between the two:
“God, what a weirdo.”
“I know, why doesn’t he just say something already and get it over with? So annoying…”
“We should totally tell him something next time? Like ‘Hey! 35,000 for both of us all night, wanna go?!”"
“Oh seriously? Then he’d be like ‘Really?’”
“Yeah yeah! Then he just like takes out his wallet and we just brush him off. “Ha! You thought we were being serious!? Get real!”
So the days went. The old guy would pass by; they would alternately cower before him and mock behind his back; and they did their best to get along in the colony of those who have become obedient to the forces of the Cosmo.
Obsession can be a bitch. Sometimes it makes you into one. Sometimes both.
Finally, it’s January 1st and the clock is ticking. Yep, it’s time for SnapStory1000.
In case it’s your first time tuning into this blog, this is a photo meme I hope to have us all engage in:
- Take one photo and write one short FICTIONAL story about that photo.
- The photo doesn’t have to be taken the same day.
- DON’T make the story about how you took the photo, where it was, etc. Use the photo more as an illustration.
- Other than that, go nuts!
So here we go.
They were just coming back from the first prayers of the New Year when all of sudden something quite peculiar happened. The world around them literally shifted. Small quaint brick houses gave way to massive skyscrapers and massive electrical lamps sprouted from the ground like weeds shot in time-lapse. How this transpired is best left to the scientists who tragically were not present on this day. Certainly, it wasn’t the drinks of the night’s celebrations making them see things.
To say they were confused would have been an understatement. They were shocked that Hachiko, that nice little dog they had sometimes passed treats had become enshrined in bronze. Little had they known that this was actually the second time that the pup had become deified. Even more shocking was the fashion around them: sure the girls in the frilly dresses weren’t so unusual in the imported English and French magazines they read (with great time and effort, it must be stressed), but everything else was simply madness – those gold chains, the short skirts. The writing was on the walls and if it wasn’t for those, they would have thought it was some other planet.
Then there was the noise. The automobiles were so unfathomably loud, to say nothing of the motorcycles. People chattering incessantly on the stalls and those who weren’t were busy looking down at their hands pressing at their tiny keypads. The massive screens overhead blasted out things that could be construed as music if only for the fact that human hands were undoubtedly behind the creation of the series of sounds.
Yet, once the initial shock and disgust wore off, it attained a sort of novelty. Such insanity could not be the logical progression of things. However, the human mind is capable of thinking up many things that could be thought of against all reason.
“Perhaps it’s a dream.”
“Yes. Why not? This might all just fade away.”
They proceeded to walk past the Tower Records..as the streets became more open, the started to feel the mighty skyscrapers start to shrivel and fell back to their original selves. They ran back to the station and, sure, enough, the little white dog was there waiting for what would never come.
They felt elated, whilst already feeling nostalgic for that time.
No, I haven’t seen Tron Legacy yet. I’m actually inspired more by Battlestar Galactica, where there were these beings called Hybrids that controlled the ships and used that phrase a couple of times, in turn inspired by Tron. That’s neither here nor there though. What is here is the end of the test run of SnapStory1000! It’s surprising how quickly this week has flown by and how quickly I’ve had to force myself to work to get these things up in time to beat the clock. It was like NaNiWriMo except that the word “tomorrow” doesn’t exist. Instead, it’s “Just get it done now and then you can do whatever you want the rest of the day.”
Thank you to all those who have sent their words and please don’t be afraid to submit more honest ones. It’s probably not going to make me stop writing but it might make it better writing and isn’t that what matters in the end?
I’d like to give a very special thanks to Mijonju, youtube producer extraordinaire, excellent photographer and all-around cool guy. He came all the way down to Saitama whilst nursing a cold to join me and my friend Remi on a cosplay shoot. This particular shot I found as an inspiring take for SnapStory1000 and I hope he doesn’t mind the cruelty I’m going to subject him to below. By the way, you might want to read a little about the anime Angel Beats to get some of this.
When it doesn’t involve a warzone, cameramen seldom think that shooting refers to anything but the click on the shutter.
In the afterlife, such theories about things go out the window very quickly.
“Hey, Otonashi. This guy is really something else.”
“Yeah, I know. Most NPCs don’t get so persistent.”
“It’s starting to really piss me off.”
Mijonju wasn’t too phased as the pistols stared him down the face. He had no idea how he wound up on this purgatory of a schoolground, but he had stopped caring after that first month of despair. As far as things that could happen after you die are concerned, it wasn’t too bad really. After all, if there’s an eternity to be spent taking pictures while forever stuck in the peak of your prime surrounded by cute girls? Well, that’s pretty damn good. Literally. The school’s photo lab allowed him to develop pictures at no cost to himself and the school lunch was actually quite good. Especially the spicy tofu.
That said, being put at the point of a gun really does something to change a guy. Oh, sure, he’d heard the rumors of revolutions echoing through the hallways. He’d see the girls wearing those vaguely militaristic badges – “SSS – Fight against the God.” Weapons and slogans weren’t really all that happening though. Not when the school rock band did such ludicrous stunts as they did. Glocks? Boring? A shower of lunch tickets in a crowded hall shot with nothing but a Diana, an on-camera strobe and a hallway full of lasers? Awesome city.
This time was a little different though. He had seen Otonashi and Hinata practicing their poses and the like. The expressions on their faces were pretty interesting he thought. That mix of a soldier’s precision with a child’s playfulness was the type of stuff exhibitions were made of. Sure, there weren’t any exhibitions in the school but that wasn’t the point. It was a cool shot with motion blur, some gunplay and the reds and blues in their hair would probably pop awfully nice in the tint of that expired Fuji Pro 800Z, especially with the way the sky would blow out at that ISO.
Now, something else was gonna blow out.
“Are you gonna tell the council president about this man? The Angel’s already got us on the run and we don’t need any snoopers on our operations, ya get it?”
Mijonju sighed. Would this be the result if the 2nd amendment got imported to the Diet? Whatever. He’d seen the president unleash her Guard Sonic on these guys before. That sword could be captured surprisingly well with a 400 ISO film at F/4 even in the dim light of the school lamps at night. They’re still around, so it only followed that so would he. Who knows? They didn’t look too bright. Maybe after they got the satisfaction of blowing him away they would just leave the camera there and he could just pick it up in a few hours from the pile of blood that would be left there. Death is just another day in the afterlife.
“Come on now, you NPC spy. Do you have anything to say for yourself?”
Well, in a way, he did. One last thing before doing it all over again.
The shutter clicked. Viewfinder got covered in black.
Can’t believe I’ve been able to commit to this project for even this long. Self-motivation is a funny thing. I’ve usually lacked self-discipline for much of anything in life. After all, this generation is so focused on instant gratification, myself included. It was so easy to feel proud of yourself after beating Super Mario Bros. 3 for the 15th time.
Of course, you conveniently forget that you used *both* warp whistles to skip straight to World 8. Oh sure, that’s a pretty challenging level, but you didn’t go through the entire thing, level by punishing level. You cheated and you skipped all the cool surprises along the way. After all, World 8 was a depressing void of black compared to the mystery of Pipe Land and especially the sheer graphical feat that was Giant Land.
Therefore, SnapStory1000. It’s still a little instant: after all, photography is partly about getting results in the blink of an eye. Short stories, likewise, give you a little burst of fiction. Yet, it’s not about trying to win everything in one go. No, it’s about making the The Long Slog a bunch of little ones. Snap a bunch of pictures one day. Sift through them. Find one you like. Write something today. Sift again the next day. Write something else tomorrow. Go out and snap of a bunch of other pictures. Wash, rinse, repeat.
It’s not enough to point the box and push the button. It’s not enough to sit at the box and push on the buttons. Use both. Use your eyes to find what your mind likes and use the fingers to poke inside of it and dig deeper.
See what happens. Feel when (if) it does. If it doesn’t, see if tomorrow makes something better.
They’ll probably all be shitty first drafts, as Masa would say, but let’s see. And then let’s write. And let’s see again.
“That’s the second time that’s happened this week.”
The yellow neon on the station terminal sign turned red: “Running Five Minutes Late.”
“Well, it is Saturday.”
“So what? What was the excuse they had on Wednesday? You’d think with everyone throwing themselves all the time they’d have it figured out by now.”
The cause given by the loudspeaker was actually the strong winds that had blowing throughout the day, but the beers had loosened their lips. Besides, it was past midnight and the train still wasn’t here. Every other one had already come, picked up their passengers and zoomed on to whatever suburb on the other side of the prefecture they were supposed to go to.
However, this one was five minutes late. For now. Who knew? It could turn into twenty like it did on Wednesday. Damn the winter. It never got this bad outside of the rainy season and there the mustiness of the trains would be expected instead of the body shock that it was in the middle of December.
“Do you really want to go home anyways? At least, we can hang out at the Hostess again. I think Hachi’s still there.”
“Hah. Payday’s still two weeks away. Don’t even want to think about women right now. My own is enough trouble.”
“And you want to go home?”
“My bed is softer than that rubbish couch any day.”
“Still, could’ve been fun.”
Nothing is more awkward than those moments trying to cover up the minutes in a botched schedule. The music of life goes off-tune and you wind up filling the minutes up with a bridge that goes too long and winds up making everyone uncomfortable.
That’s what happens when the train runs five – now, ten – minutes late. The fun night of beer and light chatter followed by a cozy ride home under thoughtful silence ends on ever so sour note. Reminders of moments lost, times that might have been had, and the things that remain longed for back there and undesired when arriving.
“Feh, what now?”
“We wait. What else can we do?”
Oh man, just barely got home from a wonderful Christmas dinner in Atami with Don Maybin, a brilliant linguist and founder of the innovative language-learning site Sulantra. Check that site out – they offer free starter courses in five different languages and I’ve provided my (not yet implemented) talents to the Spanish branch of the site. Anyhow, in my drive to make sure that I stick to my own rules, I bring you another SnapStory1000. This one will be a much shorter affair, given that I have about 45 minutes between writing these words and uploading the piece. Nothing like a time limit to tense you up.
“Wow, just look at that,” Michiko couldn’t help but state the obvious as the seashore reflected the sky above. The train’s smudgy windows did nothing to spoil either the sight or the sun’s warmth shining through.
“Well, I guess we were saving these for later but..” Azusa opened up the bag that had been lying on her lap for the past hour and a half of the ride.
“Ah, we can always buy more when we get there anyhow,” Nami had always been the bad girl. Even pushing into her 60s, she was always keen to be a bit naughty in the name of a good time.
It was their 40th year reunion. They had known each other since they were little girls and they have tried to keep true to their schoolgirl promise – they would travel to Hakone and just spend the weekend together at the same hostel they stayed in way back in high school during their Winter vacation escapade.
Schoolgirl promises tend to be as fickle in their delivery as they are powerful in the conviction that gives birth to them. Fortunately, the power of natural scenery and a weekend of hot spring getaways on a bitterly cold month proved to be a motivator in having everyone keep it going.
“Besides, we won’t even have to switch trains for another hour,” chimed Satomi, ever the pragmatist. “They’re already getting warm anyhow.”
“Yeah, getting warm,” said Nami with a grin. “Beers are about the only thing that don’t have a problem getting warm this time of year.”
“Let’s join them before our bodies really get cold.”