Episode One - Fortune City
The City of Fortune—a megatropolis renowned for its incredible size and extravagant urban beauty. As a well-known port city, people from various cultures and societies have passed through and gathered here from one era to the next.
Much of the population will agree that Fortune City evolved a culture of its own, a way of life that only its citizens fully understand. The mass collections of cultural and societal habits forge a metropolis unrivaled to any other.
Generation after generation, the city was extended piece by colorful piece until its edges covered one horizon to the other. One side of the city touches the ocean while the other circles around a mountainside and continues on. The vast size stretches across a variety of terrains from cramped urban cityscapes to spacious rural farms. Still, Fortune City expands, blending creative architecture with the variety of landscapes available.
The result is a beautiful urban jungle rendering the city a physical incarnation of wild ingenuity. The streets curve and turn like the tentacles of an octopus, branching out into alleyways intricately connecting every section of the metropolis. Fortune City’s skyline is layered with a wonderful assortment of multicolored, multistoried buildings, each design based solely on pure impulsivity.
Every morning, the streets stir with movement and blossom with life. The city itself is an enormous machine revving into living motion. The restaurants, shops, and businesses are the gears to the engines while the unending masses of people are the fuel nourishing the living mechanical entity.
Steam and smoke billow into the air across rows and rows of building complexes. Squirrels and pigeons walk the streets alongside commuting people, eating scraps out of trashcans and restaurant alleyways.
The people rush on cars, rush on bikes, and rush to trains to rush to work. Children walk hand in hand to school while the elderly walk pair by pair to the park. Without its citizens, the city would be without its treasure.
The City of Fortune is awake for another day.
His name is Leon.
Today is a new day, a day where he can show up to work with a positive attitude because his ambitions are that important to him.
Leon breathes into his hand and sniffs.
“I should’ve brushed my teeth last night.” There is a breathy smell of onions, fries, and an after taste of either vodka or rum. Probably both.
Leon eagerly rushes to the bathroom and snatches his toothbrush with concerned haste. Vigorously scrubbing his teeth, he peers into the mirror and adjusts his black hair into a faux-hawk style with wet hands. Now he’s ready for the day.
The TV plays the morning news, the sun light shines bright through his window, and his clothes lie ready on the bed.
Just another surprise work morning.
Leon’s previous night was a short if not lively outing with coworkers after work. They’d gone to a bar and ordered numerous beers, played pool, ordered more beers, played darts, then finally started the hard liquor. He remembers eventually returning home at about 3 AM, which isn’t bad he supposes. In fact, he was a good boy and actually left the party early.
Leon puts on his black pants, his white shirt and tie, and starts buttoning his jacket. He did not expect today to be a work day but instead, had a well-planned schedule to do nothing at home. Inconvenient as usual, he received a call for an overtime shift at 6:30 AM this morning.
He couldn’t refuse.
Right now, the biggest problem for Leon besides his slightly aching head is his extreme desire to continue sleeping. With his eyes still half shut, he glances over to his bed—his beautiful sanctuary.
Seeing his lovely white pillow, he imagines sliding his arm underneath and embracing the cold smoothness while his head lies on the soft comforting cushion. This paired with his warm cottony sheets makes him regret having taken his bed for granted on all those days he didn’t have work.
If he wanted to be a heathen and slip back into bed, to just forget about work and embrace the comfort…now would be the best time. His warmth is undoubtedly still lingering, trapped under the sheets, calling to him.
Maybe ten minutes. Wait, five should be enough. He takes a step toward his soft cloud haven.
No. He pauses.
“No,” this time he says aloud. He isn’t going to fall for his bed’s seductive lure. Not this time. He quickly pockets his wallet, keys and phone, intending to get out of his apartment as swiftly as possible before his demons return.
“Three notifications? Really?” He skims through the phone log. There is one missed call from his stepmother and two messages from his girlfriend, Rachel.
Clearly, the call from his stepmother should be ignored for the more important things, like his girlfriend’s messages. The first from his girlfriend reads, ‘Hey you didn’t call me, what happened?’
His mind is definitely awake now.
Leon stops and thinks for a moment. “Crap.” He was going to call after work but was too caught up with the ‘outing’. Calm down, maybe it’ll be okay.
He opens the second message, ‘Are we still on for tomorrow night?’
A sharp, anxious feeling rushes up his spine and uppercuts him until he is staring at the ceiling with his mouth open in awe.
“Shit.” Today is tomorrow. Any more surprises and his heart would stop.
It’s their three-years-still-together anniversary and he forgot. His mind starts fiddling with ideas, pasting possible excuses together into a reasonably viable explanation.
First, he needs an excuse for not calling. Actually, he decides to tell her the truth.
Yes, the truth. They are just that much in love.
He messages her, ‘Sorry went drinking last nite after work. Working today too… :( Meet after?’
One part of his brain reminds him he'd better hurry if he doesn’t want to be late for work, and another part of his brain reminds him that he has a migraine, by having a migraine.
“How stressful,” he groans and winces trying to cope with the pain pulsing in his head. He decides to come up with dinner plans later, after work.
Right on time, his watch starts beeping the arrival of 8:00 AM.
Quickly switching off the TV, he throws on his shoes and starts stumbling out of the apartment. Fumbling for his keys while grumbling in pain, he quickly locks his door rumbling toward the stairway.
Moving too hastily and clumsily, he accidentally bumps into an old woman in the cramped hall.
“Sorry lady, but I’m kind of in a hurry.” He tries edging his way past her, but his shoulder knocks her harder than expected and she abruptly collapses to her knees.
Her frail hands struggle to grip the railing and she scorns, “Nanda yo! How dare you!”
Though he isn’t normally so rude, his cognition is running at a much slower pace, and he could barely process the situation as it happened.
Exhaling a quiet sigh, Leon quickly turns around, amazed that the slight tap had actually knocked her down. He gives a hand and the lady hesitates before taking it, but she takes it.
She has to; she’s old.
“I’m so sorry, but I really have to go.” After helping her up, Leon hurries his way down the stairs while the lady shouts at him. Quite a mouth on that old lady, but Leon doesn’t care. Her voice is quickly lost to him as he jets out of the building.
The streets are just getting busy. Shops put out their signs featuring their products while the clerks shout their discount offers. Produce deliveries are loudly unloaded from trucks into restaurants while the staff wildly sprays down the street with hoses.
On Lotus Lane Drive, hot steam billows out from the restaurant doorways and ventilation fans along the entire street. Even on weekday mornings, old folks hurry into dim sum restaurants prepared to spend their entire day chatting and snacking among themselves.
Young adults with a carefree day head to cafes for morning coffee or to brunch restaurants for morning margaritas.
Leon sniffs the air as he rushes past the numerous restaurants and envies them all. His eyes glance uncontrollably through the windows as his mouth waters from the sight of food.
“I wish I could, I really do…” A strong scent of the grilled marinated meats mixed with a variety of exotic vegetables tease his senses but also remind Leon that he missed breakfast.
Suddenly, he realizes his day is going to be long.
“Wei! Gou lai la! Come in for breakfast! We have a cheap discount right now! Every meal comes with an extra soup and drink!” shouts a store clerk standing outside of his restaurant.
Leon regretfully groans, “Don’t tempt me!” and he walks on with a frown.
Getting to the stop, Leon waits no more than five minutes before the bus arrives, just on time for work. From here, his forty minute commute to work begins.
Sitting on the quiet bouncing bus, he finally receives a message from Rachel, ‘O ok. See you after work. Call me ;)’
At least he has that.
Leon worked downtown in an office. Some days it’s a boring desk job and other days, he gets to visit another floor for an errand. He is surrounded by carpeted partitions, ringing telephones and printing fax machines, and rapid fingers punching into calculators. This is his job and by most social standards, his life.
Sitting by his cubicle, he stares at the blank computer screen flicking his pen and scratching his nose. The stacks of papers that need filing can wait—he is busy.
“Hey Leon, did you get that memo about the printer? Thing is broken, so switch all documents to the XL 700 down the hall,” says the coworker whose name Leon has forgotten.
Pretending to be filling out forms, Leon scribbles across his desk. “Yeah, sure.”
“And can you print me a copy of that last client’s statement?”
Perhaps there’s a reason Leon doesn’t remember his name. “Yeah sure, Fred.”
Returning with a stern glare filled with conviction, Leon says, “That’s what I said.”
After looking at his watch, he decides to take a break and heads to the office kitchen, sneaking a donut from the box on the counter. Peaking with joy, he quickly gobbles down the jelly frosted pastry while anxiously watching the door and licking his fingers. A smile arises on his face and he quietly leaves.
What a clever, devious man he is. This would undoubtedly be the highlight of his work day, and he’ll be sure to tell Rachel all about it.
In all honesty, Leon has hated his job for many years, though he’d never admit it. He just never gave the idea of quitting much thought.
Whenever he introduced himself to people, they never seemed interested to know the kind of office or business he worked for. They would simply nod and insincerely say, “Oh, that’s nice.” Other times, they’d say “Oh, me too!” but Leon would proceed to feel sorry for them, and consequently, for himself.
Every day, he gets off work feeling a little more dead than the day before, but at least the pay is good. Initially, he planned on saving money by working at the office for a year and then he’d quit. Instead, one year turned into two, and now he is on his third and a half. When you live for the weekend, the days just seem to fly by.
After work, darkness engulfed the land without Leon noticing. He had gone into work on a nice sunny day and now, orange rays of the dying sun graze the city marking the approach of dusk.
And now, his day finally begins. Well, his night.
He stands outside of his office building contemplating his plans with Rachel. He didn’t have time to come up with anything since he was absolutely swamped at work. Leon decides to call first, “Hey Rachel, meet in half an hour? I just got off.”
“Sure. Where should we go tonight?” Her soft voice is therapeutic.
“Um…” His work neighborhood only has coffee shops, lunch trucks, and fast food stores, each aimed to pick at the pockets of spiritually dead employees at lunch time. The best place to go would be anywhere else so Leon heads for the train station.
He says, “Well, seeing how it’s our special day, how about we go get some burgers and fries? And if you’re lucky, I’ll let you get one with bacon, maybe even two.”
“Fine, but you’re getting the salad,” Rachel giggles.“Great. See you at Old Treasure Hill.”