Part 13: The Running GirlUpdate 11: The Running Girl
Lilly just barely edged Shizune out in the vote so well take her side in an upcoming scene. It wont change much in the long run, just the shape of the next few updates.
WARNING: This update contains Kenji and fig leaf.
The sound of an alarm pulls me out of a fitful slumber and into the unpleasant state of wakefulness. I linger under the blanket for a few minutes, gathering energy to rise up while making excuses as for why I already haven't. Honestly, I wouldn't mind staying here for all day. School is surprisingly exhausting after a long pause, and the culture shock still has not faded, I think. Still, despite getting an impression that skipping class is easy here, I don't think they are going to let me get away that easily. And the nurse is bound to keep breathing down my neck with the talk of exercising as well.
So eventually I do rise up, swallow the morning medications and put on my old soccer clothing. Thanks to my condition, I was exempted from taking part in gym classes at Yamaku, so I didn't get issued with a gym outfit. I'd order some to cover such a contingency, but wearing my old soccer clothes is kind of nostalgic. I can't use them for that any more, so maybe they can get a new life this way. A bit like me.
After all, if I'm going to start taking care of myself, I can't afford to slack around. I'll start from the basics. Basics which include keeping the rest of my body in shape along with what little I can do to strengthen my heart. Maybe then I can go back to something approaching a normal life; or at least something where I'm less likely to fall over dead at any minute.
If you didnt commit to working out earlier, you still head out in the morning, but youre kind of about the whole thing.
(Running Sound Effect)
I'm surprised to discover that I'm not the only one present at the track. Not just that, but it's a face I've seen before. The prosthetic-legged girl who bowled me over in the hallway yesterday is running on the track lithely, like a half-mechanical gazelle. What was her name again? It was a short one, but I can't remember. She seems to be running laps at a somewhat easy lope, her prosthetic legs clacking rhythmically on the hard track surface. I wonder what reason she has for running this early in the morning. Maybe it's something akin to mine, and the nurse is oppressing the poor girl to jog just like he is oppressing me. I certainly wouldn't be here if it weren't for my health, and his prompting me to do so. And even with things being like they are, it's only because I wanted to get it out of the way early. The fact that I would be less likely to encounter someone who would witness my pitiful attempts to get in shape was merely a happy accident. I'd leave, but it seems that my former assailant noticed me on her last lap. She waves at me cheerfully and jogs over.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Standing Tall (Emi's Theme)
EMI: "Good morning! Your name is Hisao, right?"
She grins, seemingly pleased that she'd remembered my name.
EMI: "You may not remember me. Emi? I knocked you over in the hall yesterday."
EMI: "'Miss Ibarazaki?'"
She imitates Misha 'imitating' Shizune, failing to get the same kind of subdued lilt into her high-pitched voice.
HISAO: "How could I forget such a er, blunt introduction?"
Emi has the decency to look vaguely apologetic for a moment before giggling.
EMI: "Yeah, sorry about that. Again."
HISAO: "Hmm, well, so long as you don't make a habit of it, I suppose I'll be fine."
I'm not sure she realized I was joking.
HISAO: "So the spy-consultant the nurse was talking about... is that actually you?"
EMI: "That's right!"
HISAO: "Oh. I was expecting someone from the nursing staff, to be honest."
EMI: "What, are you saying I don't look like I could be a spy?"
HISAO: "No, this is more like a relief. I was afraid he would have someone to watch my every move. Unless you are here to do exactly that."
EMI: "No, I'm here for my own reasons, the nurse just asked me if I had seen 'a messy-haired transfer student who looks like he's kinda lost' around the track."
HISAO: "So why are you down here?"
Emi strikes a dramatic pose.
HISAO: "For what?"
HISAO: "Ah, I see. You're on the track team, then?"
Emi nods enthusiastically.
EMI: "Yep! I'm one of the better runners, too!"
And modest about it, too.
EMI: "Hey, you should join up! It's good exercise, you know."
I think that much activity is probably out of the question for me.
HISAO: "Nah, I'm not even sure that I really like running all that much. Plus I'm just not into organized sports, you know?"
It's true. I never even really got that much into soccer. I mean I'd run around with my friends and all, but that was really the only reason I ever played. It wasn't for the glory to be found on the field, that's for sure. Emi seems to understand my meaning.
EMI: "I see, I see. Not that into the whole organization thing. But now that you're here, I guess we're going to run together, huh?"
HISAO: "What? Er, sure, I guess."
Emi seems pleased.
EMI: "Are you going to warm up?"
HISAO: "Real men don't warm up."
EMI: "Oh no, you always should warm up! Bad Hisao!"
She scolds me enthusiastically, but then smiles and leans closer.
EMI: "I hate warming up too."
She laughs suddenly.
EMI: "Heck, and I don't even have to stretch my legs!"
As if to confirm her statement she bounces up and down a couple of times, giving a passing impression of standing on a pair of springs. Her legblades seem to be quite elastic.
Im not sure how clear it is in the images, but her sprite really does bounce up and down, complete with flexing sound effect.
EMI: "Let's go!"
Note the blur effect.
So we both take off around the track, and I can immediately see that she wasn't lying about being good at running. Emi moves fluidly, throwing herself into the run with a sort of wild abandon. I find myself concentrating more on running properly.
Hands spread, right? And something about hitting on the balls of your feet, rather than the heels... I try to match my stride to Emi's, but it's pretty difficult. Apparently I'm not very good at it. Maybe Emi could help me with that sometime. I'm really not feeling up to more than a couple of laps today, and slow to a walk pretty quickly.
Goodbye, blur effect.
Emi keeps running, and doesn't seem to notice I've stopped until she passes me a second time. She quickly skids to a halt, breathing steadily in contrast to my own somewhat gasping demeanor.
If you chose not to promise to keep yourself healthy earlier, you peter out here without even bothering trying to run properly.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Standing Tall (Emi's Theme)
EMI: "Finished already?"
I hang my head ruefully.
HISAO: "Heh, yeah. I'm not in very good shape right now."
Emi nods, and then grins at me again. She seems to do a lot of smiling.
EMI: "Well, the important thing is you started, right? Next time, you just have to try to hold out longer, and then longer, and longer, and eventually you'll be great!"
HISAO: "I'll keep that in mind. But I think right now I'm going to go get ready for class. Shouldn't you?"
Emi shrugs unconcernedly.
EMI: "Nah, I've got plenty of time."
I notice that she's not wearing a watch.
HISAO: "Are you sure?"
Another careless shrug.
EMI: "Not really... but I've got to finish my routine!
EMI: See you later, Hisao!"
HISAO: "Er, yeah. See ya."
I'm not sure whether this morning's experiment was a success or a failure, but I'll admit that I do feel slightly good about getting out there this morning. And like Emi said, I just need to keep at it in order to get better, right? Practice makes perfect, or something like that. It's nice at least to feel like I've taken some semblance of control over my own health. I'll have to try to keep this up.
If you didnt commit earlier, you conclude it was definitely a failure.
I head back to the dorms to wash and change into my uniform, trying to resist the urge to take a really long and hot shower. I'm tired from all the running, so I just want to unwind, but I don't want to break my slowly building routine of getting to school before the morning rush. After taking a long shower anyway, I dry myself off and get out of the stall to put on my clothes.
Out of nowhere, a shadow appears within the mist, looming and radiating malicious intent. It bursts through the fog.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Out of the Loop (Kenji's Theme)
HISAO: "What are you doing here? What the hell, you scared me! What's your problem?!"
KENJI: "I should be asking you that. I've been looking for you all over the place, man."
HISAO: "What do you mean all over the place?"
I want to ask if he's been looking for me like that, stark naked, but hold my tongue back. I finally realize I'm still naked too and quickly hold up my shirt in front of me, but Kenji doesn't seem to notice a thing. His glasses are fogged up. But then, why doesn't he wipe them off? Is his vision so bad it's like he's perpetually seeing through fog?
KENJI: "You know, your room, and... Yeah, that's it. Hey, I mean, I still had to get up, though. Whatever. It's not important. Can I borrow some money?"
He puts on an innocent face and looks away, trying very hard to look very casual. It doesn't work; he's as transparent as his windowpane-sized glasses. Talking neutrally like this, wearing nothing, feels awkward. Actually, somehow it's even more awkward to be naked in front of someone when they can't see me being naked. To say nothing of the fact that he's naked as well. I try to brush the feeling off, with little success.
HISAO: "Money? Sure."
HISAO: "Wait, why do you need it?"
KENJI: "Ehhhh... Can't you just give it to me because I had the good will not to run through your pockets while you were in the shower? I could have, but I exercised restraint. And in the end, isn't it the thought that counts? Come on, be a pal."
This makes no sense. If it's the thought that counts, I should withhold payment, since his thoughts were so clearly impure and his intentions are probably even more sinister since he can't tell me what they are. I say as much to him.
KENJI: "I'm offended man, but if that is your game, then fine, I guess I have no choice. I want to order a pizza, and I already have most of the cost of the pizza. I need your help for the rest."
HISAO: "I get some of that pizza too, right?"
HISAO: "Are you serious?"
KENJI: "Yeah. I would give you some, but you have class, you don't have time to eat a pizza."
HISAO: "What about you?!"
KENJI: "I'm not going to class, I have to wait for the pizza and pay the guy. And then eat it. It's not easy. You have to obtain the pizza stealthily. If you don't, everyone will see you. And the pizza. And they will ask for a slice. It's a hard world out there. Everyone wants a piece. Then you're left pizzaless in an unforgiving world. It's happened before, that's how I know. Every day, I plan my vengeance, so that when the people who wronged me order a pizza, I will be there. Ever vigilant!"
Kenji strikes a dramatic pose, completely without irony.
KENJI: "But yeah, I only need like 400 yen. Please! You're my only hope! I can't go outside and buy my own pizza, it's too far! I try not to go out unless it's absolutely necessary. Let me tell you what happened the last time I went out without carefully planning it out in advance. I was outside. I can't remember what I was doing. Something. Standing? Maybe wondering how I got there. And then, out of nowhere, it happened. Like a flash of lightning, splitting the sky, like how you split a sandwich into two equal pieces to make it more manageable to hold and eat, a bird crapped on my head. It was the second most shocking moment of my life."
HISAO: "What was the first?"
He ignores me and keeps going. I want to grab him and shake him. Is he just trying to keep momentum? I'll go with that, even if it's more likely he just didn't hear me.
KENJI: "It was like in the openings to some kind of anime show, you know how there is always a part where the main dude is fighting his rival, and they fly at each other and clash swords and there's like, big dramatic colored auras and zoom?
KENJI: It was like that, but with poo."
KENJI: "So yeah, I need some money. Please? Don't leave me hanging, man. I only need like 1000 yen."
HISAO: "I thought it was 400."
KENJI: "I'll pay you back, I swear."
HISAO: "You better, that's what it means to borrow stuff."
KENJI: "I don't know when I'll be able to pay you back."
HISAO: "You have one week."
Kenji winces and makes a noise like a dying cow, a particularly disturbing fact given that his baton is conducting freely.
KENJI: "You're not supposed to be so tight assed about money between brothers in arms, man. Men have it bad enough as it is. Did you know that male porn stars only make about half of what female porn stars make?"
HISAO: "That doesn't mean anything unless you're a porn star."
KENJI: "So maybe I am a porn star, on the side, struggling to make ends meet as I fight the feminist agenda, and you can't even spot me your crumbs, you bastard. Nobody understands. Nobody."
Wouldn't feminists be against pornography in the first place?
HISAO: "This feminist agenda stuff again?"
KENJI: "This stuff is important. I can see that you don't give a shit, but this is serious, here. Feminists... are a dangerous enemy, make no mistake. You take them lightly, and you'll wake up in the morning with a knife in your back, bam! Out of nowhere!"
HISAO: "How do you wake up in the morning if someone stabbed you in your sleep?"
KENJI: "Women are terrible at stabbing things."
HISAO: "I thought you just said don't take them lightly."
KENJI: "Well, I mean don't take them lightly for the big things. Individually they're not a threat, but if there was some kind of war, like a big war, with men on one side, and the feminist forces on the other side, it would be pretty ugly. And that day will come, when the feminists come out of their central top secret worldwide feminist headquarters, and say It's on now, motherfuckers!"
HISAO: "You're being ridiculous, there's no big worldwide feminist headquarters building, where would they even hide that? I mean, it'd have to be massive, you couldn't hide that on Earth, someone would notice a big fortress with women only in it."
KENJI: "Who said it was on Earth?"
I turn away from Kenji and start practicing frowning faces in a mirror so that I can figure out what kind of frown will best express my emotions. He can't see me from this distance anyway. Which, unfortunately, means that he just keeps on ranting without any regard to sense or sensibility.
KENJI: "Yeah, there is a war going on. A war not many know about, but it's a great one that will one day boil over, and encompass all of the known world. Then, we will have to pick sides. We will have to make a stand. In fact, it's happening right now. Imagine it, the bloody battlefield. A vicious conflict without end. I almost gave up, when I thought this cause was silly... When I grew tired of the bleakness of our fight... When I mistook the time the power went out for a feminist raid and thought the end was near... But then I realized that if I gave up, it would all be over, and I was like, whoa and knew I had to get serious. Because I am the last sane man in an insane world. It's about duty."
HISAO: "Must be a pretty crappy movement if it all hinges on one naked guy, ranting in a bathroom at another naked guy."
KENJI: "So can I have the money?"
He's blocking the way out, it's getting cold because I'm still naked, and I want to go to class, so I agree to spot him the money.
KENJI: "Awesome. Thanks, dude. We should go bowling later on."
KENJI: "Yeah, it's the ultimate sport. There are almost no women bowlers either, making it also the manliest sport. Should I wear my pink bowling shirt with matching shoes or the pastel green with flower accents?"
HISAO: "There are bowling clothes?"
HISAO: "Anyway, you had better pay me back."
KENJI: "I can pay you back in stuff, right?"
I don't have the time to ask him to elaborate on what that means.
HISAO: "I don't know. I have to get to class, you're kind of in the way."
KENJI: "Oh. Sorry. Yeah, I don't want to hold you up, and I have some stuff to do myself. The time has come."
HISAO: "The time for what?"
KENJI: "I just like saying that. Okay, now the time has really come."
HISAO: "For what?"
KENJI: "I have to use the bathroom. Get out of it."
HISAO: "I was just going to! And what does that mean? It's a big bathroom. "
KENJI: "So? I have to be alone or I can't go. The pressure..."
HISAO: "Okay. What if someone else comes in?"
KENJI: "...I'll think of something."
I give him my practiced frown and it looks kind of silly reflected in his glasses. He either doesn't notice or doesn't see, anyway, so I get dressed and run back to my room, feeling as though an eternity has passed since I woke up.
That is time I will never get back. I'll get him for this somehow. But right now, I have to get to class.