Thursday, 28 July 2016

Chapter six (segment one), 2017, spring break

Gearing up had cost him almost nothing. Almost two years' worth of shopping had him equipped with most of what he needed. Sure, he had to compensate for growing a bit, but from what he recalled from being a teenager the first time he'd only add a couple of centimetres more.

Ulf checked his bags one last time, and then he did the same with his climbing sack, the one he preferred for long biking hikes. Nothing forgotten, and with a deep sigh he straddled his bike and started east.

Fuck, they'll wonder what happened, but I really need a break now.

Back in their shared data repository lay everything needed for the sessions his customers had already ordered. He'd only accepted facilitation, because he wasn't going to break his friends' belief in themselves. The work wouldn't earn the company all that much money, but it would give the four of them all the pocket money they could possibly need.

When he waited by a red light a few pedestrians and the driver in the car at his side gave him strange looks. Probably gave his clothes strange looks. Japan might be number one in the world when it came to manufacturing super light weight gear, but very few people wore them. For some reason they seemed to prefer hideously expensive European and American gear of lower quality.

Their loss. I get the best for a discount.

He'd left just about everything he usually carried along at home. His phone he carried in his backpack, but it was shut down. As in had its battery removed and placed in a separate plastic bag. Ulf didn't trust the software shut-down to guarantee he didn't leak some kind of signal.

This was his personal break, and he didn't intend to be found before he was done, no matter how long that might take.

Fuck it. I hurt you really bad. Half a truth. I hurt us both. I'm sorry Christina, but I can't take your life away from you, but neither can I live without you. He needed this break. He needed to find a way not to betray them both after the damage he had already done.

With wind flying in his face his thoughts were easier to collect. He'd get lost from time to time, but he'd also lived long enough to learn to read a map and a compass from a time before GPS was available to everyone. So I can find my way in Japan, but I can't find my way in my own life. Funny that.

A nagging suspicion that he had forced the solution on Christina crept around in his mind. There was a feeling he had neither given her the respect she deserved nor the right to make her own decisions about her future and their relationship. That suspicion was what finally drove Ulf to flee from everything. If he had done wrong. If he had, the he had cost himself the chance of a lifetime, and if what he read in her eyes, Christina as well.

He sped up and used an uphill run to punish his legs as much as possible. Don't dwell on it. Don't think about it. Just get out of Tokyo and as far as possible.

The way he was right now he'd refuse to employ himself. Mentally unstable people weren't the kind best suited to guide others.

Ulf understood he had another problem as well. Some kind of shit scary acquaintance of the Wakayamas was on a killing spree, and only Urufu's asking Amaya to abuse her indecent powers put a stop to it. Now, offline for the first time since the early nineties he had no way to make sure the body-count didn't rise again.

It didn't help that the shit scary man was Christina's grandfather. But I can see where you came from. Did you ever realise that hard part of you was one of the reasons I fell in love with you?

Thinking of her hurt. Had hurt for over a month now. Ulf wiped tears from his face when traffic allowed, and then he wheeled under one of the highways feeding the east Kanto region.

Been a while since I last hiked like this. Last time was on foot, but damn that sucks! He grinned, and for a short moment there was only the glory of his silent wheels, the wind in his face and the feeling of being in control of his destiny. But am I really?

So much time spent on preparing to change the world around him to the better. The way he had always lived his life, even when it turned out he was wrong. And again that nagging suspicion this was one of those times came eating on his mind.

He skidded to a halt, left his bike and fed a machine some coins. Despite being Mars with optimal temperatures for a hike like this, he'd still consume huge amounts of water. He recalled those vending machines being just about everywhere in Japan, but he didn't want to chance it, so he bought a litre of sports drink. It should suffice for the next two or three hours or so.

The afternoon saw him leaving the parts of Tokyo he knew behind him, and as darkness fell he had made it firmly into the outskirts.

While Ulf didn't have anything against cycling in the dark he decided to call it a day and spend the night at a hotel. A love hotel more precisely. They happily accepted cash and asked no questions. Besides they were surprisingly good value, seldom asking much more than five thousand yen for a night.

Ulf locked his bike and went inside.

It took him a while to decipher what went for a reception, but then he realised the display of rooms worked pretty much like the restaurants where you bought a food ticket and gave it to the waiter.

There was no waiter here, just a tiny hole by the counter that allowed him to pay, receive his keys and leave without neither him nor the receptionist ever seeing each other's faces.

Shoddy living for a shoddy person. Let's see how long I can keep this up.

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