PROLOGUE:

PROLOGUE:

The sound of footsteps, the sound of wind, the murmuring of distant waves. There is a low mist all around, not enough to hide the vibrant colours of the sakuras proclaiming the arrival of spring. Zoom forward…we catch a glimpse of blue from the midst of trees…the sakura forest gradually thins out to a few trees, then to a couple, then to nothing but a huge expense of sea, a frozen blue with hardly a wrinkle on its surface to betray its icy appearance. The sound of footsteps grows louder, then stops. A rustle of paper, a flipping of pages, then a barely audible sigh. A hand reaches out, holding a frail looking paper boat with the emblem of a hospital on its side, and with only the letters 'test resul' visible beneath it. A soft voice says "…so..." The hand releases the boat, which bobs serenely on the gentle waves for a long moment before crumbling and dissolving into the water.

A pause, then…

"Alright."

1st SCENE.

(A loud blare of music is suddenly turned down. An erratic beeping sound is heard, then a far-off trilling, then a very soft, disconnected voice says "hello?" This is the inside of a beaten old car, and a young-looking teenage boy of about 19 is nervously perched behind the wheel. He is clad in brown slacks and moccasins and a stiff white shirt, and is busy trying to disentangle himself from a light brown-coloured tie while keeping a handphone plastered to his ear. His name is Kohei.)

Kohei: Ryuchi! Where are yooouuuu?

Ryuchi: Kohei? Hey…hey I'm on my way, I'm almost there!

Kohei: Where exactly is your 'almost'? I've been waiting here for the past half an hour, you idiot! And it's like 2 more minutes before my interview! 2 minutes! Half an hour, 2 minutes! (splutters) Half a bloody hour, and 2 bloody minutes left! It's…

Ryuchi (interrupting): Wait wait wait I see your car now…What's that…thing around your neck? …A tie?Is that a tie?

Kohei (sighs): Nooo, it's a sausage dog. Which, by the way, at least has the decency to hang around for the past half and hour, during which you…

Ryuchi: With all due respect man, your doggie looks like a noose.

Kohei: I tend to get suicidal when I'm stressed up. Half a bloody hour you…

(A loud blare of a horn, which drowns out the first few words of Ryuchi's reply.)

Ryuchi: … worry about the interview man, the boss won't mind much, since I'm the one introducing you. Look, it's only half an hour…

Kohei (interrupting): 32 minutes now.

Ryuchi (continuing): …and it was important, man! Look, I was sleeping, right, and I had another dream of Aiko, and she said…

Kohei (sighs): Look look look why don't you get over here first and we'll talk about Aiko later? I'm parked in the hotel's bay area…and I might be chased away if I'm lucky…if not it's fifty bucks of yours gone to pay the fine. Think about it, fifty good dollars for a dream of your dead girlfriend?

Ryuchi: Well something else happened… wait I'm here I'm here…

(Kohei sighs resignedly and snaps his handphone shut. He hears a rapid thudding of footsteps across the carpark nearby, then a short honk and an angry "You crazy nut!" interrupted by a "You stupid man I'm walking here! I'm walking!" Then Ryuchi slams into Kohei's window, panting and grinning.)

Ryuchi: Hey!

Kohei: If you keep doing that you're going to get squashed by a truck one day. Hopefully. Just get in. Good grief and I'm not even sure how to get there…

Ryuchi: Hey hang on… look man, I got held up by something else, and I need to get film for my camera right now.

Kohei (groans and lets go of the steering wheel): What? Ryuchi this interview is important to me!

Ryuchi: So's my job, man!

Kohei: Oh, so some news cropped up? What is it? Is it big enough to cover fifty bucks?

Ryuchi (looking around anxiously): There's this kooky woman back there…oh heck I have to get my film before she gets away. Wait for me here!

Kohei: Wait! My interview!

(Ryuchi jogs away from the car and prepares to run across the road to look for a filmshop. He turns back and says…)

Ryuchi: The boss won't mind if it's coz we went to cover some news!

Kohei: We?! WE?! You're the reporter, I haven't got the job yet! (Yelling) So I can't afford fifty bucks!

(Ryuchi is already on the other side of the busy road, and is running along the row of shops trying to find one that sells film. Kohei sighs again, removes the offensive tie from around his neck, almost choking himself in the process, and dumps it in the backseat where his backpack and jacket is. He folds his arms and stares into space for a while, then gets out of the car and looks around.)

Kohei: I don't see a kooky woman.

(Looks around some more.)

Kohei: I don't see any woman.

(Suddenly spots a female emerging from around the corner of the hotel. She has a group of beggars following her, and she is handing out something to some of them.)

Kohei (squints): That's money.

(The female stops outside the entrance of the lobby of the hotel, the beggars clustering around her such that she is lost from view.)

Kohei: Money? She's giving away money? Like that?

(Kohei frowns, slams the car door shut and walks across the bay area towards the woman. As he approaches he notes that she is just a teenager, slightly younger than he judging by appearance. She is wearing a knee length denim skirt, a thick, wool-lined denim jacket over a light blue sleeveless top and track shoes. Her name is Hiroko. Kohei steps up to her from behind.)

Hiroko: Here…what? Soup? Well…there is a take-away outlet around that corner that sells soup. Chicken and fish, I think. Yes yes go get some, you look like you need it. And this is for you…and this, for you…keep that well, don't wave it around in public like that, auntie, have some sense…some bad egg can just sit on you and run off with the money…Boy? Where's your mama? At home? Is she at home? Well it doesn't matter…here you go…bring it home to mama. To mama, not the candy uncle, no matter how important you think he is to you. And…here you go auntie… alright who hasn't gotten any?

Kohei: Errr…excuse me…

(Hiroko turns around and eyeballs Kohei.)

Hiroko: You're not applicable.

Kohei: No, I…What? I… what?

(He sees the beggars walking away with Hiroko's money in their hands. He turns back to Hiroko, who is walking away from him.)

Kohei: Hey! HEYYYY!

Hiroko (turns around): You know, if you can yell that loud, why don't you just go be a cheerleader or something instead of wasting away as a beggar? It's pathetic.

Kohei: I'm not a begg…Cheerleader? Cheerleader? What's yelling got to do with … hey! HEYYY!

Hiroko (turns around again): You can be a … a professional cheerleader. Sorry, the little old ladies get the priority. The big strong men…erm … the … the middle-size…well…the men…should get jobs instead of hanging around waiting for handouts.

Kohei: I wasn't going to… well I was just wondering why you're giving away your money! And I resent that.

Hiroko: Resent what?

Kohei: The…the…implications in your 'big strong men erm middle-size erm the men'.

Hiroko (pauses, then…): Being healthy is more important than being big.

(A short pause while Kohei tries to make sense of that statement. Hiroko sees that Kohei is about to argue some more, and hurriedly says…)

Hiroko: Ok ok, whatever.

(Hiroko rolls her eyes, flips a lock of her shoulder-length hair behind her right ear and walks away. In doing so, the earring on her right ear gets hooked and tugged off by the hair, and it falls and lands in front of Kohei. He sees it falling and takes quite some time before he realises it's an earring, and that it's Hiro's earring (he's a born cheerleader). He bends to pick it up.)

Kohei: Hey…you dropped your earring!

(He looks up to see that she's quickly walking into the hotel. He slowly unbends and jogs after her, into the hotel.)

Kohei: HEYYYYYY! Your earring! Hey, you dropped your…

(pause)

Kohei: Huh?

(He looks around the lobby of the hotel.)

Kohei: Where…?

(He jogs around the lobby for awhile.)

Kohei: mutter mutter…

(He sprints around the lobby for the next few minutes. He's got the stamina of a… of a…well, a cheerleader.)

Kohei (speaking out loud into space): Where did she go? That nut…why would anyone want to give away all their money and then run into one of the most expensive hotels in the district…What am I supposed to do with this thing?

(Kohei examines the earring, which is apparently silver, and notes that it is really plain, with just a barely visible twirl of metal around it. He slowly saunters out of the hotel and walks towards his car while looking at it. He gets into his car, and is about to place the earring in his pocket when he sees Ryuchi emerging from a sidestreet across the road. Ryuchi waves to him and yells something that is lost to the traffic.)

Kohei: What? WHAT?

Ryuchi (far off): …filmshop…eat…need more…me…hurt…

Kohei: I can't hear you!

Ryuchi: …found filmshop …street… need your money! …Forgot my wallet…throw me your wallet…

Kohei (clicks his tongue): It's so you to do that…Alright wait…hang on I'm getting it…hang on! Aargh. YESSSS I said hang on!

(Kohei reaches into backseat for his backpack, finds it, gropes around for the compartment which has his wallet, and realises he can't undo the zip with just one hand. He sighs, twists around in the driver's seat so that both arms can go around the left front seat, and bends behind the seat so that he can rest the bag on the floor of the car while he searches for his wallet.)

(There is a loud thud followed by a sound like the cracking of thin ice over a frozen pond. The front part of the car roof caves in a little, and the windshield implodes. Glass shards embed themselves in Kohei's side.)

Kohei: AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!

(He is stuck between the two front seats, and after much difficulty manages to twist back so that he is facing the front again, only to see someone lying on the hood of his car. He is dimly aware of large pieces of cloth floating down around his car, and of the screams and yells around him, and of the pain in his side, and of the fact that his muscles seem locked. He notices fine hair flowing down past the broken shards of his windscreen, past the steering wheel, and he sees pale skin, and blood, lots of blood.)

Kohei: What… Hey get off my car…

(Kohei reaches out to tap the person, then freezes when the sight finally registers in his brain.)

Kohei: Oh shit what happened…hey you get off my car! Hey…whoever the hell you are…ow…

(Kohei fumbles for the doorhandle which is coated with blood spurting from his side. At the same time he's patting the person on the head, a helpless attempt at revival. He suddenly sees the blood that is flowing down his steering wheel and dripping onto his lap, and he notices that he's soaked in it.)

Kohei (groggily): Eeeeek what's all this…wake up! Come on…hey…

(He tugs at the handle, then gives a frustrated yell and starts kicking at the door when he realises he can't open it.)

Kohei (yelling): Get me out! GET ME OUT! …aaaargh…

(Sirens sound and the monotonous wailing becomes deafening. It goes on and on… then abruptly, it stops. There is the sound of car doors slamming, and the running of feet and yelling of orders, followed by several loud metallic clanks. Another set of sirens approach and stop just as abruptly, followed by the slamming of doors and far-off yells of "Keep your distance! Keep your distance! Come on hurry up and put up the barricade…where's the tape? Hurry up guys…")

(Kohei is now lying on the front passenger seat, hyperventilating and disorientated, only barely aware of the commotion outside, and only barely able to twitch his fingers.)

Policeman1: The door's stuck…alright you guys get the victim onto the stretcher and into the ambulance first. Get another ambulance here for this guy.

Policeman2 (into walkie-talkie): The door frame is twisted at the top due to the impact, so we can't open it…still alive…but bleeding heavily…yes sir…still conscious sir, but the victim's not…ok…ok…

Male nurse 1 (peering in through the broken windscreen): Boy? Do you hear me boy? We're going to get you out of there, but stay awake as long as you can! Don't move alright?*

Aside, quiet muttering: If we don't get him to the hospital fast he's going to die of blood loss… Yes I know you know that but it'll take too long to cut through the entire mess like you suggested. The windscreen? There's too much glass… No we can't drag him out. He could've broken some bones, that's why! We might kill him…

(Kohei floats in and out of consciousness, his body numb, his concept of time blurred. He vaguely sees shapes moving around in front of him, following that a bright shower of sparks which goes on and on like a never-ending fireworks display. He notes a sensation of movement, and then he is out of the wreckage, in the bright daylight streaming through the irregular hole in the ripped awning covering the bay area. Outside sounds fade away and he can only hear his own breathing at this point in time. Through blurred eyes he sees flaps of cloth still dangling from the metal frame of the ruined awning, and then… he sinks into oblivion.)

~~~ scene closes ~~~

*At this point in time one should only question the logic in this statement after taking into consideration that 1) The statement was made by a nurse, 2) It was a male nurse, and 3) Contrary to popular belief, things like that were generally said to grievously-injured people not to comfort them, but to annoy the hell out of them so that at least they stay conscious (even though they're entertaining thoughts of sticking a chicken up the nurse's bum.)