Start writing here…
“But your laziness leads you astray;
your greed makes you dumb;
your gluttony makes enemies for you.”
Ancient Egyptian Literature Volume 1: The old and middle kingdoms.
In the vast, crystal blue waters of the Magellan sea, was a set of islands of incredible tropical beauty; populated with volcanoes and an abundance of thriving life. A city of blue and gold towers of glass, an economic and technological hub, the merger and central spot of tradings and meetings between Asia and the Americas. Populous, advanced, and modernistic. Composed of uniquely built buildings that merged the architectural aesthetics of Japan, the United-States, and that of local Hawaiian natives. With an overall sleek design, measures and droids in places prevented a pollution issue and kept the air and streets cleaner than the majority of cities. It went by the name of Kou, pronounced with an (oh) and an elongated (oo or ouh) sound. Spanning through most of the coast and into the island half-way through. Without breaking the equilibrium of nature but, rather merging near expertly with it.
A true gem of technology.
Downtown was also the harbor were some of the navy was stationed, large imposing warships kept guard, always. Multiple shops and restaurants lined the waterfront. Such as clothing stores, souvenir shops, virtual arcades, tourism, with many more for everyone. Same with performers of all kinds that came to try and get a few extra bucks off people. Some were musical acts, others were more about acrobatics and then others would be lost somewhere on the spectrum of weird. Whichever or whatever, the vast majority were to fun to watch.
EARLIER THAT DAY...
Lei May and the music festivals that came after were always great, even more so nowadays that most people didn’t need to work as they once used too.
Many local artists from the islands, from other countries and the mainland, came to play music and entertain people for an entire month. Down by the western portion of the beach, on the other side of the harbor, were all the food trucks and vendors with the main stage off in the distance. Covering the ground in moving feet and swaying hips raised arms and dancing fires that kept everyone warm.
Maleko (pronounced with an “eh” not an English “E”) and Izumi made their way through a crowded passageway created by food trucks parked on either side.
Smelling all the fragrances, the aromas of the spices that made their bellies grumbles and beg; more Maleko than Izumi as he was a fluffy man. Tall, 6 ft. 3 inch., and quite large. Broad jaw and shoulders. Square frame padded by years of over-consumption, broad nose, and long wavy curls.
Not a small man by any means, even if he were to shed it all. Always an alert air on his face, ever vigilant of everything around him. Inner insecurities devoured him.
Izumi was part of her college women-volleyball team, the hedgehogs. Wearing the blue and white proudly on the court, one of the best and second to the lead. Tall for a woman at almost 6 feet, hair cut in the old style of a Hime. Bright brown eyes she liked to hide under colorful lenses, quick on her feet, and incredibly clever. A student that aced most of her classes, tragedy had turned her this way. Confidence and strength had been earned and were true but, beneath the surface was a lot of turmoil. That still pulled and tugged. Courage can sometimes simply be to grin, bear, and push through no matter what.
“I’ll pay! Pick whatever you want.” He said, slowly and breathy with a low voice that still showed enthusiasm.
“Fluffy, you know I can eat more than you can in one sitting. You sure you wanna put your money on that?” Eyebrow raised, head tilted up a bit. She taunted him.
Maleko laughed away and shooed her with his hand. “So you mean you want to have an eating contest with me? Cause, in case you haven’t noticed (he rubbed his belly in a playful manner) I can definitely fit more in there than you can!” He said, staring her down for the challenge with a big, broad smile that revealed only the upper teeth and dimpled his cheek.
“Yeah?? (She egged him on) That’s what she said!” Exclaimed Izumi.
“Oh! Fuck off!” Retorted Maleko before laughing out loud with her.
“I out-eat you every time, fluffy boy. When will you learn?” She provoked him some more.
“Ha! That’s cause I had already ate every time! Not this time though!”
“See that truck right there?” Pointed Izumi to one who had a funky little donkey with cross-eyes painted on it, in big bold luchador letters “El Burro Loco”.
“Uh-huh! What about it?” He looked hungrily in that direction then back at her.
“I’ve heard people say they’ve got the biggest plate of fully loaded nachos in here. Called the crazy donkey pile-up. Double dare you motherfucker.” She put out her hand to shake on it, he slapped it back like a side high-five.
“You got it! And you know you gonna lose this one! (He rubbed his hands together and licked his lips) Here I come, delicious, glorious food. Wait, what do you get if you win and what do I get if I win?”
“If I lose... (she paused to think, finger on her chin) I’ll pay for everything for the meal and all the snacks and treats for the rest of the day. What do I get?”
Thinking for a second, he was unable to come up with anything better and instead offered the same. Gazing into her eyes as he spoke, for years now he had been silently in love with her. They neared the little window and were greeted by a short older Asian lady, her face barely peeking out the window with squinting eyes. This surprised them both and caused them to remain quiet for a few seconds, they were so used to the “stereotypical” appearance of most that worked in Mexican food businesses.
“We want two of those donkey pile up nachos, the bigger the better!” Broke the silence Maleko.
The lady stared back at him and then the girl with even wider eyes. “Luis! Dos burros locos nachos! (She called out sounding more Mexican than the Mexicans themselves)” Out of that little woman came a loud voice that could’ve stopped any kid mid-way through their shenanigans. It’d be no surprise if she had an oversized wooden spoon of her own, for good measures.
A stocky, brown man with beady black eyes and wearing a white apron soiled with food stains approached the older lady from behind. The pair stared back, silently getting the up and down scan from the husky old cook with squinched eyes.
“You, “gordito, I believe you can do it but, the girl. She looks too “flaca” (his eyes turned to her), you sure you can handle it lady? It’s this big ( he made a circle with both his arms about 12 inches wide) and this big (he made a space between two hands), four layers.
“Bring it on, chef! You’ll be surprised!” She replied.
Bursting out into laughter, he began to walk away and said out last from the distance, “ Dat girl’s got som’ guts!”
“If this guy saw you eating, he’d be shutting doors and hiding from you.” Said Maleko to Ichika.
She scoffed, laughed softly, and turned her attention elsewhere. He giggled a little.
30 minutes later...
Maleko had his upper body splayed to the side, heaving and staring at the large plate while simultaneously picking at it slowly. Drool dripping out the corner. Ichika, on the other hand, was finishing the last few bites. Then, upon picking off the last stragglers, she raised her arms in victory and let out a yell that ended in a massive burp; she pulled her arms quickly in and covered her mouth, then looked around. Slightly embarrassed of herself but, also trying to not to laugh out loud. “I win, sucker!” She taunted him.
He let out a faint laugh, just about ready to enter a food coma, “you’re a monster!” His voice squeaked at the end. Her reply was a laugh, maniacally victorious with fingers and palms to the sky; elbows bent. Still head on the table, his eyes went to her he was lost once more. Had he been an anime character, they would have bulged out and glistened with dancing hearts and butterflies around it. Little birds would sit on his shoulders while cupid would shoot heart arrows.
“Noodles...” He whispered loud.
“What’s up?” She said, turning to look at her sleepy-eyed friend.
“Remember when we met back on that beach? Just south of here, I was around 7 years old and learning to surf with my older brother. You were there too with your father and siblings. It was such a hot day, I remember. You got a bit of sunburn, I was darker than ever. It was a good day to be alive.” Reminiscing of the past. Waves rolled in his ears and he could see her as she was back in those dreaded times. A short little skinny girl, tremendously energetic and joyful. Merely nine years old, dressed in a one-piece in sparkling purple and lime.
She looked up, hands clasped, humming. “Yeah, that was the first day I met you, face-first into the sand when the wave washed you back up. Think the board went up your ass too that day.” She giggled and nudged his round shoulder. This guy was but skin and bones, unruly messy hair, and constantly covered in sand.
“Ha!Ha! Not even! But, yeah, I can’t believe here we are after all of that shit we’ve gone through. We are survivors, right?” He lifted himself up and nibbled on the food some more.
“8 years ago, I thought we were both goners to be true.” Her gaze remained on the lights in the sky this time, and then the crowd and the life around them. Almost a decade now since the world faced the end together. Sometimes it felt surreal to her when she thought back to the fact that more than 3 billion people had lost their lives. Her younger sister included. Had it not being for her father helping her and Maleko, once they reunited in the aftermath, she would have been lost to a possible horrible faith. Her brother was found alive shortly after too but, he had moved out about two years back and gone to live in the newly found city of Konza in a habitable zone on the old continent of Africa.
It was right to say that, in difference to her old-time friend, she had been fortunate. His family was already broken from before the chaos.
Unfortunately for the boy, his father had been tragically killed early on in his life by a random shooting between rivals. He’d been but a passer-by at the wrong time. Despite the technology and the urgency with which he had been driven to the hospital, the bullet had ricochet throughout his abdomen and part of his chest. Torn through everything and caused him to have bled to death. Leaving him with his older brother and mother, who did their best to raise him. Victims of the calamities, he was the last of his line.
“Wanna go to the Vircade? Shoot some ghouls down? Think it’s around the corner somewhere here.” He asked, moving away from the subject and the way he felt about her today.
“Ready to get your ass kicked again?” She taunted him once more.
“You’ll be chum bucket for hungry mermen!” He shouted, lifting himself up from the pic-nic table.
Later that day...
There was a large plaza, covering roughly two and a half hectares, whose ground was paved in bricks that danced in loops of varying shades of red, brown, and orange. At its middle was an imposing fountain that reached 16 feet high and both cascaded and jetted water out of specific pipes. Tiered in three like a cake, bowls of varying diameters and depth. Painted a cardinal red with magenta tiles lining the interior of each level. The perimeter was build to offer sitting by the water. Three ends were surrounded by businesses and towering office buildings while one offered steps that went down to the harbor trail.
Here, nearing dusk, was a man and a woman sitting together.
For many years, since childhood to be precise, they had known each other. Best of friends, they had gone through every stage of school, and life, together and now were in University albeit in different classes than one another this time. He loved her, had been in love with her for ages and now he had just finished confessing it.
Only, she did not reciprocate the feeling not simply because of a vain and materialistic reason. No, it was more than that, events had shaped her into a near workaholic and perfectionist. What she expected of another in a relationship had to reflect her own efforts in life and to see him as he was demonstrated to her that he had still much to work on and deal with. She did love him and did feel that it could grow into more. But, to be loved by another, one must first show it to him or herself. By proper hygiene, care, and presentation. Something he lacked currently.
Maleko was not muscular nor thin. He didn’t play sports, wasn’t popular and most sad of all, he was often bullied by classmates for being the bigger one. Food was one of his favorite things, his comfort so to speak. As he stuffed himself, he snuffed any emotions from rising and therefore prevented himself from healing those deep wounds. Other interests included computers, robotics, and video games. An intelligent man by all means. He could program and create multiple applications and tools with ease. An aptitude with technology that set him apart.
He was sitting by the fountain, breathy, wearing dark khaki shorts and a blue Hawaiian shirt. Wavy curls fell to about mid-face, head shaved except for an overgrown middle, wide strip of hair.
Izumi was his long-time friend and fellow geek.
Her big black eyes looked up at him through her spectacles, awkwardly in silence as he awaited her answer. Sure, that was her friend but, she just didn’t feel that attraction to him currently. He thought it was all superficial and plastic, assuming that perhaps she had changed for the worst. Unable to understand his own flaws and misfires, unwilling to accept the now.
“Fluffy, look...I do have love for you but, I... I... don’t even know how to put it for you. It’s just...I just don’t feel that way.... like right now and I don’t know if I ever will or. You know, I just don’t think you’re ready and I just don’t wanna be like some mule for you. I’m trynna do something, you know?” She felt bad about this, somewhat guilty knowing their history. She struggled to come up with something else to say and now looked around uncomfortable; hands on her lap with palms up.
Maleko assumed he understood why and did not say a word back to her, he simply got up and walked away from her with a big heaving sigh. Sad, facing crippling loneliness, with head down and a heavy heart he made his escape.
“Fluffer! Maleko! Dude! Shit!” Said Izumi from behind, trying to get his attention but, he refused to turn around and instead kept walking. Ichika remained seated, feet kicked the air with hands stretched to the side as her head went down. She remained there lost in thought; pouting slightly from the way she felt after the reveal and the day they had had together.
Things weren’t expected to turn sour at any moment, then again, neither was a revelation such as that. It had been a good day, by all means, she had laughed a lot, gone to many places. He was always so gentle and thoughtful of her. Many minutes passed, her friend no longer in sight before she decided to chase after him.
Maleko made his way out, through one of the square tunnels overtaken by vines and plant life that led you to the busy district on the other side. Luckily for him, the mass transit train was arriving to the platform just as he got there; unfortunate for Izumi who had tried to catch up with her friend and narrowly missed him.
The train took him over the paved roads of the downtown roads at fast speeds, stopping every minute or two at a station until it made its way out of the core towards the north-western portion of the city.
A large frame window gave a view of the thriving city, of the surrounding jungle and the little animals that lived around. The setting sun in the distance basked everything in a warm red and orange glow as the night above began to turn purple. Cool, fresh, salty air circulated through the vents. 15 minutes later, the train stopped at the Patsy-Mink station more commonly known as the P.M station. Preceded by the Ka’ahumanu stop.
Huffing and puffing, struggling to breathe and move his muscle, Maleko finally made it to his campus building after 25 arduous minutes; which normally would take someone only 15 minutes at a slow pace.
’He lived alone in a single bedroom apartment situated on the first floor of a 20 story building. One living room of small dimensions flowed into the open kitchen with its L counter that ended where the front door was. On the other side were two doors, one for the bathroom and one for the bedroom. A large and square window provided light into the living space. At the bottom of the frame, divided by a track, was a little square window he could open. His bedroom had the same one, both with bamboo blinds installed inside of them.
Small, square-ish, floors, and walls were done in sparkly gray tiles. With a tub/shower combination in black, matching toilet and vanity; the sink was a wide bowl in white ceramic. Painted walls the color of gingerbread cookies with vinyl baseboards in a light mahogany color. Furnished with a versatile black padded couch with low arms, a thick plastic table made of transparent blue plastic, and a large ultra-thin screen on a sleek black stand.
The kitchen came with black metallic cabinets couple with thick, nearly white pine doors and drawers. An old refrigerator stood between the kitchen and living room while the flat stove was almost right next to the large stainless sink. A closet was squeezed between the entrance and bathroom. Filled with bags, old slippers, rags, and cleaning supplies.
Scattered around, were boxes filled with wires, scrap parts, computer components, and other knickknacks. Some of his clothes also laid strewn around.
As per usual, he kicked his leather sandals off as he closed the door shut behind him. His phone dinged in his pocket, he took it out and tossed it on his couch when he saw the name of his friend show up. Out of the fridge, he took out a pint of chocolate ice cream filled with random delights before sitting down on the couch.
Books, papers, a pipe, a large grinder, some little bags of weed, his V.R. Helmet and gloves and one very complex looking bong resembling an octopus took up space. Now, far away from the world, he returned to his habits and packed himself a bowl in the bong before lighting it and taking a large puff that came out in thick white clouds as he coughed his lungs out. Instant relaxation, relief. Let the green, dissipate the strain out of my mind.
These white clouds made their way out of the open window and found their way into the traveling wind. Carried into the sky, a starry clear night with a growing crescent moon, until it finally dissipated into the atmosphere. Into the further portions of the island, on higher grounds and less populated areas.
A large flash of light was followed by the sound of an explosion that created a glowing rift in the sky from which various similarly shaped objects of yellow color were ejected. Then, just as suddenly as it had appeared, it bleeped out of existence. Leaving the large-egg shaped organisms hiding in the surrounding wilderness.