Author's Note: This story is brought here from my alt account, Irvidescence, which I had decided to discontinue using.

It is a still ongoing story, set on a parallel Earth. You'll notice the differences.


The breezy summer night chilled him.

Tokyo's night sky glowed a surreal shimmering indigo. A yellow moon peeked out from behind the famous Mount Fuji, its pale rays wasted on a city that never slept. Yet even under the moonlight, the distant peak seemed to have lost its majesty.

On the opposite side of the panorama and standing thrice as tall over the city, a dark arrogant spire cast a thin shadow. Saying that it pierced the clouds wouldn't be an exaggeration. A symbolic manifestation of the elephant in the room, of the corruption permeating the city. Yet for a shadow, it appeared to run both ways like a two-handed sundial, an impossibility.

He knew better that the shadow was in fact a barrier, an ugly scar from an unfortunate turn in history. A pit and erected rampart manned by soldiers, mere mindless ants when looked upon from thirty stories up a tall apartment building, on a high, brooding hill.

When one looked upon a city of millions from such a height, this particular mass of humanity and its uncountable follies should have seemed insignificant.

Well, unless one was dangling upside down by a rope tied round the ankles, thirty stories high, after being a victim to one of those follies themselves and stripped bare except for a pair of argyle boxers.

Which just turned out to be his situation at the moment.

Brilliant, just brilliant. What are the odds?

Scratch out 'breezy', from this height, the wind battered and swung him like a pendulum, banging him against the cold wall of the building's exterior. Maybe he shouldn't blame the wind. He did panic right after regaining consciousness.

Most people would have already blacked out from sheer fright, and he knew it wouldn't take that long for him either.

This was a bad dream. No, a bad joke. No, worse than that: it was the kind of situation that set a whole new benchmark on how bad a joke could be.

Hanging. Thirty-stories high.

In nothing but boxers. Upside down. Left to die.

After losing everything. No way to escape even if he'd try.

If the mix of unpleasant emotions that he was experiencing right now could be expressed into words, anyone could bet their life savings that the worst choices from his vocabulary would be there.

But then, the thugs had gagged him and tied his hands. The wind kept howling in his ears and stinging every inch of his exposed skin, deafening him in a mean-spirited, taunting one-way conversation.

Right, five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance.

He reached acceptance in thirty seconds.

He was going to die, yes he was.

"Hello, what's your name?" a girl's voice said, crystal-clear as if the wind stopped right then to allow her to speak.

He didn't hear her approach him. He saw her as a dark silhouette against the city's electric glow, her fingers clinging to the building's exteriors like a wall crawler.


"Right, Mister Mm-hmm-mmf." With the air of a cheerful tourist guide, she spoke, "Right now you are hanging one hundred and five meters above street level by your ankles, courtesy of the gentlemanly street thugs that I was tailing. Well Mister Mm-hmm-mmf, as breathtaking as the view is, you don't look very happy. Maybe you missed having the ground under your feet."

The boy's muffled scream filtered through his gags.

"Right, you're not interested in dilly-dally. Fine, just that, I'm currently in need of someone to help me with... something. I'll save you if you'd help me after this. What do you say?"

What? You're one of them?

"Sorry Mister Mm-hmm-mmf, I don't understand Muffled-nese. Anyway, it's not compulsory. I'll save you all the same even if you'd refuse from helping me afterwards."

Then quit the chatter and just get on with it!

"Wait, I think you said something rude."

No I didn't!

Wait, even if I actually did, look at the situation!

"How rude." She scowled. "Well, I don't mind if you refuse, but I don't tolerate someone who'd say rude things to a lady."

And she crawled away, disappearing through an open window three stories above, leaving him wriggling like an eel.

Then like a graceful monkey, she came back. "What? You're helping? Excellent! I'll forgive that rude slip of the tongue!"

She pulled out the rough, dirty cloth out of his mouth.

"I didn't say I'm going to help! You're not one of them, are you? Or are you just an opportunist?"

The girl's eyes narrowed. "I like you better in Muffled-nese."

When she approached him with the coarse piece of cloth, the boy wriggled even further and swung, and swung. "Alright! We'll talk, we'll talk! I'll see if it's something I can do!"

"I have scissors!"

He squinted and saw the glinting tool.

"What! Don't joke at a time like this!"

"Snip-snip! I'm going to snip off those ugly boxers…"

He felt the cold touch of steel. "What does that have to do with everything?"

"First your boxers, then your lifeline, you sicko…"

You're the sicko! "Fine, I'll help! I'll help you!"

When he said that, she had already snipped halfway through. "Well, nice to meet you, Mister Mm-hmm-mmf. Thank you for sparing me from a dose of fan disservice."