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Title: Indigo (first volume of my Remnants of Yesterday Series) Prologue Hinageshi Red Light District, Shinkano City – June 10, 2012 Damn frog rain! Nori cursed as he ran through an alley. His right hand pressed over the wound on his side. His thin jacket did nothing to ease his anxiety. He felt cold to his bones. The plan had just been another night out when evening began. The usual gathering of seven friends down their favorite pub. Instead they found the bar closed off for renovation, which prompted them to venture across town to a lesser frequented territory. More like they didn't frequent it anymore; not since they outgrew their delinquent high school days. Shinkano's red light district, Hinageshi, used to be the happening place for them. Drugs were the one thing they stayed away from. Other than that, they'd come here to do all sorts of evils. From the crazy karaoke parties to taking girls into love motels, and the underage drinking along with illegal gambling. To add on was the constant fights against rival gangs. The fights were the worst due to the escalating level of violence. However, after losing one of their friends to a deadly encounter against a rival gang, they decided it was high time to walk the straight path. The loss had been too great of a tragedy to bear. The incident had altered them all one way or another. They were all now twenty-one-year-old adults. Good standing citizens of society. Which came to say, they should have stayed where good citizens stayed. They shouldn't have revisited Hinageshi district because just thirty minutes after entering a random club, they ran into old foes who had not forgotten or forgiven them for past transgressions. The confrontation escalated to heavy verbal insults and shoves, which got them all kicked out by the club manager. The face-off continued outside and hell broke loose when they failed to talk their way out a physical brawl. New faces arrived on the scene to add to the mob of thugs. These newcomers even had their choice of weapons from various knives to sledge hammers. Their group's only exit strategy was to scatter in different directions. Forget the cars since they wouldn't make it passed the parking lot alive. They each ran for their lives and kept doing so even as the night worsened with a downpour. **** By eleven, Nori had run his way south of Hinageshi, entering into the Aokata slums, a decaying territory on the eastern outskirt of the city. There, a trio of thugs caught up with him and cornered him into a fight. Despite having become a good citizen, he still possessed the same fighting edge he had back in his delinquent days. His fast reflex and the speeding velocity of his punches were still his kill act. He'd always been quicker than most fighters he'd fought in the past. And that hadn't changed. He fought them with everything he had and ended up with a knife grazing his side. He took them down fast to avoid staying in the rain any longer. He'd been running in the wild storm far longer than his body could handle and felt himself becoming weak from it. While the thugs braced the cold concrete, struggling to get back on their feet, he took that second to get away. Cutting through corners and alleys, he went on until he felt he was out of the assailants' sight. Using that small window of distance, he found himself a hiding spot. The backstreet he stepped into was even darker than the last. The narrow lane was a dead end with a stack of wooden crates against two dumpsters by a ten-foot iron fence. The alley stunk like a thousand dead rats. Never smelled such horrid odor before but he figured the sinister scent was worth the comparison. Nori did the only thing that came to mind. He climbed up the crates and hopped into one of the dumpsters. Survival was primal when facing a do or die situation. It made swimming into a pile of rotten-god-knows-what garbage ideal to getting stabbed to death by a bunch of psychos. The moment Nori jumped in, he fell onto something unexpected. Nevermind the death polluting odor. What suck the living out of him was the person pulling him down as they sunk further beneath the ghastly waste. Nori struggled against his assailant, causing his wound to tear a bit more. The sting had him hissed a grunt through gnashed teeth. "Shush!" The voice hushed and a hand covered his mouth. Nori's heart receded to its steady pace and he stopped moving. "Sen. What the fuck, you ended up here too," came his murmur. It was his best friend. Outside, a pack of thugs ran up to the alley's entrance. Two of them came towards the crates, shouting Nori's name. They kicked and smashed the wooden stack off as if expecting to find him hidden behind it. They opened one of the dumpsters and the smell shooting up their noses had them cursing out loud. One of them was mad enough to kick the dumpster. Before he could open the second one, the comrades from afar called out to move on. Once the thugs left, only the ambiance of a grumbling sky remained. Nori drew a breath, teeth gnashing again. "Fuck." "What's wrong?" Sen asked. They toppled one another under piles of nasty torn plastic bags and wet cardboards. Sen shoved a few things aside to give them the much-needed room for air. "Fuckin' bastard had a knife at me earlier." Nori told. "Shit. How bad?" "Dodged most of it but I ain't gonna lie, it stings as fuck." "We'll move when it's safer. The fence is our only safe way out. Can you climb?" Nori palmed Sen's forehead to stop the latter from fondling where his wound was. "Quit fussing. The cut's not bad." "Well shit, just making sure I won't have to haul you on my back that's all." Sen retorted. Although Nori knew he would. Sen would do more than carry him over a fence – the guy would carry him across a battlefield if needed. And he'd do the same in return. There was this unspoken rule that existed between them. "You reek of feces." Nori uttered. Sen scoffed. "And you're all Sakura bloom yourself." They fell quiet again just listening to the heavy rain. A while later when the coast was safe enough, they crawled out of hiding, and climbed over the fence. They landed onto what appeared to be the back alleyway of an abandoned textile shop. "Call your driver." Sen advised. Nori shook his head. "Lost my phone in the struggle earlier. You?" "Out of battery." Sen replied. "B'sides, I can't just phone up home and tell them I got myself into a ditch again. Our last little adventure still has me off the old man's books, he's been leaving me dry lately." Nori reminded Sen. "Aw shit, yeah." Sen fumbled through his pocket for whatever cash he had left. "How much on you?" He asked and Nori pulled out a few bills. "900 yen," he said as they put their money together. "Fuck! That's not even enough for a cab fare past this shitty territory. Damn, it's moments like these I wish I had a plastic card." "Sorry, mine's not working at the moment, but maybe this cash is enough to buy us a night here." Nori thought up. "Remember the old eatery we use to frequent during high school." "Mushino Noodles and Express Food? It closed down years ago." Sen recalled. "Yeah but the establishment behind it is still open." Sen's brow drew. "The dump-hole? Even then it's across this slum to the east of Hinageshi! That's a freaking forty-minute-walk." "No phones, no car, no money. We're fucked. I'd rather try for a shitty place than freeze my ass running any longer. We can't return to the club's lot, Sen. Those fuckers are sure to guard our car, if they haven't already beat it out." Nori declared. Sen couldn't argue that so they maneuvered through the slum with caution, stopping to hide whenever they sensed danger. A careful travel took them longer than the regular stride – better safe than dead in their case. Once inside the inn, or dump-hole as Sen called it, the old woman at the counter gave them a split-second glance as if the brisk arrival of sodden strangers oozing of foul odors was an everyday norm. Considering decadency was the inn's ultimate appeal, perhaps it was. Without a word, she took the money they tossed up. Then eyeballed them. A scowl vivid on her face as her hand extended forward asking for more. They had nothing else to give so her gaze settled on Sen's necklace, which he refused to give up. Irked, she threw the money back at them and waved her hand at the door, directing them to leave. Nori drew up the one item he had on him that was worth anything. His name-brand wallet which would still sell for a good five thousand yen. He emptied out the content and pushed it towards her. "This high-end leather wallet should get you enough to cover your expenses for a day. Just give us a room for tonight, please. Please, mam." "Nori—" Sen protested but felt his friend's hand latch around his wrist. She looked at them, reluctant to take the bait but the young man's desperation won her over. She figured whatever they were running from was probably life threatening enough for them to look like drowned rats. And that name-brand wallet alone told her they weren't from this part of town. She didn't want dead privileged kids within her vicinity who'd attract people from the bureau. Decidedly, she took both money and card before ushering them to the smallest room she had available for the amount she was given. What braced Nori and Sen was a space resembling a bathroom with its pasty white concrete walls. It even came with its own tiny area of a drain pipe shower and toilet. A tall slim cabinet with a microwave-sized TV sitting in its hollow space, and an old wooden chair with chipped legs sat by the door. Neither furniture did anything for comfort, and were probably only there to lessen the atmospheric lavatory feel though failing miserably. The bed was a single mat rising a good foot off the floor, which to their dismay seemed rather crowded for two people. Still, anything was better than freezing in the storm. As soon as their bedroom door closed, Sen began with, "Sorry. I couldn't do it—" "If you had given it up," Nori cut his friend off, "I'd have beaten you bloody. I was there that day. When your mother said her last words, and gave you that charm so don't fuckin' degrade what she left you with by apologizing. Money's only paper. And it's my old man's papers so there's plenty more where that came from." Sen flopped down on the bed. "Acting all high and mighty, shit," he smiled, "thank you." Nori flicked the latter's forehead. "Blockhead." He said shifting his gaze to the shower. Sen looked up. "Pokerfaced." Following suit, he knew what Nori had in mind. "Dumbass." Nori retorted with and began his move. "Deepshit." Sen countered. On cue, they both attempted to dash toward the shower for first use but intercepted each other in a wrestling match onto the bed. They horsed around until Nori emitted another painful groan. "Shit, your wound. We gotta clean it up." Sen admitted defeat, moving off Nori. "It's fine. I'll do it myself." Sen shoved him back onto the bed. "Don't fuckin' know how to let me act high and mighty for once, do you?" Nori chuckled and obliged. "Guess I can play the obedient patient for a night, so hurry up and patch me up." "Patching coming up." Sen fetched the small hand towel from the cabinet then opened the cupboard to see if there was any antiseptic solution or something close to it. All he got was a small bottle of bleach. He looked at Nori and back at the bleach in hand and sighed. Rubbing alcohol was preferable but they weren't in the luxury to be picky. Besides just a few drops of bleach should be fine to help with disinfection. "Strip." He knelt next to Nori and waited for the latter to expose the cut. The wound wasn't deep but did run down long. Looking at it made Sen want to pound his fist into the bastard who carved the mark onto Nori. "You'll have to do with this bleach shit." "No choice. Let's get on with – FUCKIN' SHITTY MOTHER OF BITCHES!" Nori's entire body clamped down from the sting as he grabbed a handful of Sen's hair. "Fucking warn me, stupid bastard." "Alright, alright, let go of my hair, asshole!" Sen kept shoving against Nori's chest. "You fuckin' did it on purpose." They broke from each other's hold. "What, quit accusing me," but his grin gave him away, "fine, fine. I thought it'd be hilarious to watch you make a dump-face." He laughed hugging his sides. Nori kicked the taller man a few feet off him. "I'll get you, don't forget." "Yeah, yeah." Sen moved on to grabbed the extra bed sheet on the shelf and tore off a sliver for bandage use. "I'll help you wash up – can't risk getting it any damper." He got up to toss the bloody towel into the bin. "We help each other. Wash my back and I'll wash yours." Nori offered. "Guess we can both use an extra hand. Hell, every inch of us needs to be scraped off. Freakin' stench is cause enough for a rat infestation in this room." Nori wore a put-off expression. "Don't even want to imagine what that dumpster was home to." "Better not to." Sen concluded. They went on to disrobe and get on with showering. To Be Cont...