|The Deep End|
|Previous Scene||Don't Panic|
NARRATOR: "What am I going to do? I don't have any plans. In hindsight, that's really stupid. Maybe I should've asked a girl out? Then again, all things considered, I don't think I could've done anything like that. It's only my first week. A week that I have wasted being awkward around almost everyone, stumbling all over myself trying to get the hang of this place. Thinking about it, what have I accomplished? Who would I have even asked? Damn, it seems that Kenji is my only realistic option for a date today. This is the most depressing thing that has happened to me since I had a heart attack because a girl confessed her love to me. It can't be helped."
HISAO: "I don't know really. I don't have anything I guess, but a fort seems a bit excessive. You sure you don't want to go outside? It's not like visitors won't come to the dorms today."
NARRATOR: "He looks thunderstruck by this revelation."
KENJI: "Damn, you may have a point. This place is not safe today. We must find somewhere to hide in."
NARRATOR: "He falls silent for a moment, thinking."
KENJI: "The roof."
HISAO: "What about it?"
KENJI: "We are going to hide out on the roof for today. It's the perfect place, nobody ever goes up there. Meet me there in one hour. I have to prepare."
NARRATOR: "He slams the door shut and the locks click closed. Damn, what the hell is wrong with Kenji? And to think I'm now going along with his craziness. It really makes me depressed. I feel like a failure. Once I step outside, the din of the crowd greets me. The whole school is bustling with activity. There are stalls everywhere, and the crowd swarming between them is considerable. I didn't expect the festival would attract so many visitors. I have to admit that the people in charge of decorating the place put a lot of effort into it, and it really shows. People seem to be enjoying themselves, and the atmosphere is colorful, bright, and happy. That is, if I weren't suddenly in such a foul mood. At the moment, it's more annoying than anything else. Well, it can't be helped. I decide to stick with my original plan and eat, then I guess I have to at least see what Kenji is up to on the roof."
NARRATOR: "I do a slow circle around the grounds to kill some time, looking at the stalls, but not feeling like playing any of the games any more. The garish colors grind my eyes and I feel more and more ill by the minute. I can't even decide what I want to eat, and the large selection combined with the masses of energetic festival visitors isn't helping. I just head towards the nearest stall that seems to offer something halfway edible and get in line. It turns out to be noodles. It also turns out to be not very good. Well, at least it's nourishment. It's not like I demand anything else, at this point."
NARRATOR: "As I stir my disagreeable noodles, I idly wonder what the others are doing right now. Shizune and Misha are definitely somewhere organizing things. I'd better steer clear of them. I guess they wouldn't forgive me so easily for leaving them alone with this thing. I expect Emi to be buzzing all over the place, being depressingly cheerful. There's no chance to find her, but no chance to avoid her either, so it doesn't matter. Lilly would probably be helping her class with that festival event, and entirely too busy for another's company. Hanako wouldn't want to talk to anyone anyway, either keeping to herself or helping Lilly. Rin should be tending to her mural and is probably being unhelpful to any hypothetical interested parties. Going there for some peace and quiet seems like the nicest option of the above, but then again, I can't see having art forced on me raising my mood either, so I'll pass."
NARRATOR: "While I was lost in thought, my food seems to have disappeared, and so has my hunger. I guess I just blocked out the experience of eating, which should be a good thing. Satiated but unsatisfied, I turn to walk towards the main school building. An hour has almost passed already. The crowd is even thicker in here than it was outside. The hallways are almost unbearable, and I don't even dare to think what's it like inside the classrooms. I head up the stairs to my destination. The roof. Thankfully, the door at the top isn't locked, but now there's a handwritten sign on it."
NARRATOR: "Don't mind if I don't. The festival noise is surprisingly muted up here, and the rooftop looks deserted, as expected. Near a place where the cyclone fence has collapsed, there is a pile of blankets that seems oddly out of place. Wait. Did that pile just move a little? That would be strange, as there is no wind at all. I carefully stick my hand out and give it an experimental prod."
(at the same time)
NARRATOR: "Startled, I jump back."
KENJI: "Who is it?"
HISAO: "God damn it, Kenji. It's me."
KENJI: "Oh damn, you scared me, man."
HISAO: "So what are we doing up here?"
KENJI: "We're having a picnic."
KENJI: "Yeah. I have blankets, pretzels and whiskey. This is the ultimate setup, man."
HISAO: "Whiskey? Aren't you a bit too young to drink alcohol?"
KENJI: "I'm 20, y'know."
HISAO: "...you're not."
KENJI: "I am and so are you."
HISAO: "What? That's absurd."
KENJI: "Hey, at least YOU get something out of it, all I get is this bottle of whiskey..."
NARRATOR: "He's rambling incoherently, but I decide to play along."
HISAO: "So why do you have a bottle of whiskey?"
KENJI: "My mom couldn't come visit for the festival, so she sent me some expensive Single Malt instead."
HISAO: "A likely story."
KENJI: "Want some?"
NARRATOR: "It's not like I have anything to lose. This day can't possibly get worse."
HISAO: "...why not."
NARRATOR: "We sit down on the pile of blankets Kenji apparently dragged up here. He produces an almost full bottle of whiskey and passes it to me."
HISAO: "You didn't even bring glasses?"
KENJI: "No, this is not some romantic princess picnic. What the hell, man? This is a manly picnic. No glasses. No napkins. Whiskey only. The beverage of true men."
KENJI: "And pretzels."
NARRATOR: "I take a closer look at the bottle. 12 year old single malt whiskey, as he said. Shrugging my shoulders, I take a swig. It burns my throat like acid, but the taste isn't unpleasant. I feel it going straight into my head, and the aftertaste lingers in the back of my mouth, craving for another swig."
KENJI: "We should outline our counteroffensive and trashtalk women here, where they can't hear us. Damn, I forgot to bring my graphs."
NARRATOR: "I decide to play a drinking game with myself. Every time Kenji mentions “female conspiracy”, I'll take a swig."
Four or five hours, or possibly several days later:
(I lost track)
KENJI: "You shouldn't feel bad, man! Ease the fuck up! Seriously, seriously!"
HISAO: "I am relaxed, god damn it!"
KENJI: "I'm telling it as I see it! Think about it. When did housing and land start becoming more and more expensive? When women began entering the work force, because it created two-income nuclear families. Yeah I forgot my graphs, but, and you'll just have to take my word for it, women are connected to the decay of all society."
HISAO: "I see. That is kind of hard to believe."
NARRATOR: "Even if I say that, somehow, everything Kenji says seems to make more sense now. It all fits together but I don't know if it's because he can explain things more clearly when drunk, or because I understand everything better when drunk."
KENJI: "No man, think. Think! Think of the deeper implications! People could afford to start saying “Oh well, since two members of the family are now earning money as opposed to one, they can surely afford something like rising costs of ownership.”"
HISAO: "I see your point. But land in Japan has always been expensive."
KENJI: "...And the price of land generally goes up when a country starts undergoing industrialization. ...But no! It's because of women! Correlation equals causation, you know."
HISAO: "I thought correlation didn't equal causation. Well, whatever, maybe you're right."
KENJI: "I am always right. Yeah, I bet women created industrialization, too, to cover their tracks. How diabolical. So yeah, everyone can go fuck themselves!"
NARRATOR: "He stands up, impressing me because I'm fairly sure I couldn't even if I wanted. He yells extremely loudly as if he's lost the concept of volume. I wince and almost want to cover my ears."
KENJI: "Aaagh, how nice it would have been if I could have been down there... But no. You see, thinking like that is a trap, you think you're missing out on something, but at the end of that road is nothing but despair..."
NARRATOR: "Kenji snatches back the bottle and leans back his head, attempting to pour the alcohol into his mouth, but just ends up drenching himself in it."
KENJI: "Dammit! See, my aim is terrible, and the bad thing about drinking is that it only gets worse the longer you go! Today is the day of despair."
NARRATOR: "His voice immediately drops to almost a whisper, but he starts talking much faster than before, slightly slurring his words from the whiskey. As he talks, he waves the bottle around, spilling some of it here and there."
KENJI: "Yeah, you know what was the most shocking event of my life?"
NARRATOR: "I have a hazy recollection of him telling about the second most shocking event in his life, which was a bird pooping on his head. I don't have particularly great expectations of this, but I nod at him to continue anyway."
KENJI: "You wouldn't think it, but I had a girlfriend here once, I think it was last year. Yeah, I just blew your mind, huh? See, I have never told that to anyone."
NARRATOR: "It's true, the thought does blow my mind. Suddenly, I want the bottle. I take it from Kenji and knock back as much as I can."
KENJI: "I was more innocent back then, and I thought she was sane, unlike most women. But then one day, we engaged in... sexual intercourse. It was pretty okay, but then immediately following the event that is the point of all such things, something strange and scary happened."
NARRATOR: "He throws himself up against the fence, leaning on it, his eyes narrowed."
KENJI: "I started feeling incredibly tired and sleepy! That isn't normal, man! What the fuck? I mean, normally, that would be a high-tension, adrenaline-pumping moment of anyone's life, but my energy levels were dropping like a brick! Something sinister was in the works, I could feel it. That is when I knew... that women are dangerous, sapping the life force of all men through the one commodity that is almost solely theirs to control! Sickening. Yeah, you're better off, dude..."
NARRATOR: "Kenji was right, this really is the day of despair. I drink more to avoid having to process what he just said."
KENJI: "Now I am the last sane man in an insane world... when other people realize it, there will be a war, a great war between men and the forces of feminism. But the problem is that not all men would fight on my side... shit sucks. I could set the bar kinda low, any men are fine. But not the dudes raised by their mom or their sister, that's for sure. And nobody into dickgirl porn."
HISAO: "Ha... That situation seems unlikely to me, like it wouldn't happen, like... like it's not very likely to happen."
NARRATOR: "The alcohol must be working. Regardless, I still feel depressed that I'm up here today. I wasn't really looking forward to the festival with the same excitement as the rest of the school, but still. It would have been nice to have gone with someone. From up here, it certainly sounded like everyone's having fun. Maybe I am missing out. It's just that there was no one I could have gone with. Or maybe there was. So many opportunities, looking back on it now, and I must have squandered so many of them."
KENJI: "Damn, this is true despair... The worst part is that sometimes I feel like I have no choices in my life, you know? Like I never have a chance to make a decision, shit just happens. Like it was all preprogrammed. Like fate... or something. Like there is no way I can have a say in what I do. Quick, ask me a question!"
HISAO: "I can't really..."
KENJI: "See? This is just another example of it! Damn! Shit! Damn! Do you see? Now, when I'm trying to go against my destiny and take charge of my life, the opportunity isn't even there. Damn, man, you have failed me. Failed me for the last time. Jerk."
NARRATOR: "He slides to his knees and then falls over onto his side, lying on the gravel of the roof."
HISAO: "Hey, are you okay?"
KENJI: "No, I'm not okay, can't you see I'm in despair?"
NARRATOR: "He's speaking in a sarcastic tone."
NARRATOR: "Suddenly, Kenji sits up, clumsily pats himself clean, and puts his hand out towards me to reach for the bottle. I put it in his hand."
KENJI: "What the hell? Damn, you killed almost the entire bottle. See, it's like I have no options in life... Is this how it's going to be for the rest of time?"
HISAO: "Well, I'm pretty sure it's not going to be like that for the rest of time."
NARRATOR: "Whatever he's talking about. My head is spinning. I get up and lean against the fence, hoping it'll help me focus a little."
KENJI: "Yeah, I know. We have to fight the power with all we got. It's the only way to live. You're an all right guy. This brotherly bond is what keeps me going in these dark times. We should go trolling women."
HISAO: "Rolling women? What?"
KENJI: "Trolling women. Trolling for women. But we have to do it now, before I lose this alcohol-related courage."
NARRATOR: "He's gesturing wildly. Madly, even. I take a step backward. He takes a step forward."
KENJI: "What's the matter with you? Not in the mood for love?"
HISAO: "To be frank... no."
NARRATOR: "I take another step backward. He takes another step forward. He leans in extremely, uncomfortably close."
HISAO: "What the hell, stop leaning in like that, it bothers me."
KENJI: "Leaning in like what? Hey, you shouldn't lean against the fence like that, it's kind of unsafe."
NARRATOR: "I try to move away from Kenji, but my balance isn't so good. Reeling from the dizziness, I grab at one of the fenceposts, but then feel it give way as soon as I put my weight on it. ...this isn't good. Though my alcohol-addled brain doesn't seem to be quite able of registering why. Kenji's face seems to be becoming smaller though, which is a bit of a relief. Much smaller, in fact. And rapidly so. There seems to be a bit of wind now. Somehow it makes me feel almost weightless. I feel dazed, like my mind has gone blank."
HISAO: "I am... falling...?"
NARRATOR: "I can see the night sky as I turn over in the air. The bottle floats out of my fingertips and disappears into thin air as I fall. I realize that this is the fitting end to a truly, truly bad day."