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my true love gave to me

nine recorded happenings


[Title] Ghosts in the Machine
[Rating] G
[Fandom] Portal
[Notes/Summary] Chell didn't want records kept of her. Not at first.



When it began, she didn’t want them having records of her. She knocked down the cameras. Kept her mouth shut because words might clue them in to what was going on in her head. Hoped that the glitches in the mechanical voice above her might translate into corrupted files, so that she herself would be kept out of their system. Or there only in fragments.

And then she started finding the hidden rooms with words all over the walls, and someone had been so desperate to make themselves heard and leave something behind – even though god knew why anyone would want any part of themselves left in here – and that was when things started shifting around. In her head and outside. If there are no records of your presence, then you can disappear.

Like everyone else did, she found out later.

Oh, there were posters and slideshows and chewed pens and mouldering coffee cups, but that was nothing. That wasn't enough to keep you here. Someone would look at those traces of your life and probably not even recognise a life there at all.

The people who survived in this place – even if they weren't human, even if they weren't bodies, even if they were just voices – the people who survived left records. You knew they survived because they were calling the shots, you were running their mazes. Even the one who'd written on the walls was leaving instructions and all she could do was follow.

By then, of course, she'd left her voice far behind.

At first, finding the abandoned science fair seemed like just another relic. More people who'd not thought about disappearing until it was too late. Until she found the stall exploding with roots and leaves and saw a name scrawled on a poster that she didn't recognise. She didn't recognise it, but it struck a note in the blankness.

Perhaps she just wanted to believe that she was the person who'd planted a seed years ago and come back to find it thriving. She had no reason to think this was really her name. It didn't matter. She'd take whatever she could get.



[Title] Live Music
[Rating] G
[Fandom] Battle Royale
[Notes/Summary] Shuuya likes the live concert recordings.



Shuuya’s always happy if he manages to scoop up a live recording of this or that rock anthem. Yoshitoki’s baffled by it – the song’s way quieter and then it cuts out in the best bits ‘cause they’re singing along instead… and you can’t even hear that properly – but Shuuya can put on a concert version of a song and know he’ll feel ten times as better as soon as he hears the lead singer roaring Hello Chicago! or Are you having a good tiiiiime?

With the regular LPs, he air guitars – or attempts real guitar if it’s not going to be hopelessly out of his league – but with the concert version he’s more likely to be pumping his fist in the air and singing (or mouthing, if it’s late, which isn’t very rock but he’s surrounded by sleeping orphan children after about eight o’clock and he’s not a monster). Some of the songs, the ones he’s listened to over and over, he knows all the bits that are special to that show – what the singer’s going to say, when the audience’ll cut in, whether they change the verses round – and he can practically do a one-man performance of it in his room. If he’s feeling particularly dorky. Or in need of cheering up. Because he closes his eyes and tries to imagine being in the crowd, singing and yelling til he’s hoarse, jumping up and down like he’s seen in photos. Most of the guys he’s listening to died long before he was born but you can’t believe it when you listen to the live shows.



[Title] Here and Then Gone
[Rating] G
[Fandom] Jet Set Radio
[Notes/Summary] Coin likes the permanence of music.



Coin’s happy with his life choices, even if they do mean he permanently smells of paint fumes, has knees and elbows like crocodile skin from all the grazes, and subsists on food so cheap you’ve got to wonder what they made it out of. But he reckons if it all went downhill – like if he lost a leg under a train or something – he could settle for music instead.

Tags are meant to be a permanent marker of you and your gang’s presence, but everyone knows they won’t stick around – either the municipal authorities or rival gangs will paint over them in like a month at best. Coin’s okay with that – he likes the shift and change of it, makes him feel like he can be here and then gone and then maybe back later – but music’s solid. You play a track and you’re back to when you heard it the first time. The song and the song’s the same and it roots you, as well.

But music’s solid but yet not. Sometimes you make a mix and it comes together and the crowd you’re doing it for is there and the air’s right and then you’re flying, like when you ace a trick over a big drop. You won’t get that twice, not exactly the same. Here and then gone. But that gives you something to aim for, keeps you laying down the beats. Maybe you’ll fly again someday.



[Title] Life in the glorious Greater East Asian Republic
[Rating] G
[Fandom] Battle Royale
[Notes/Summary] Someone let Shuuya Nanahara get hold of a camcorder.



View off-centre. A worn green carpet meeting a white wall spotted with grubby fingerprints. A few children’s toys discarded on the floor.

Shuuya (off-camera): Is it on? That light means it’s on, right? Is it recording?
Shinji (off-camera): And with that, you baptise this footage with the ultimate cliched opening. Yes, it’s recording.

The view swings round as the camera is picked up, until it focuses in on Shuuya, who is wearing an expression of wounded dignity.

Shuuya: We can’t all be hacker masters of technology, Mim. Some of us take time to master our crafts.
Shinji (from behind the camera): So what is this, a move towards arthouse film-making? You betraying the noble course of rock? Would never have thought it of you, Shu –

Shuuya reaches towards the camera and the view swings wildly as he grabs it from Shinji. Eventually it stabilises as he pans the camera shakily round the room.

Shuuya (from behind the camera): Shut up, Mim. Rock has my heart and my soul –
Yoshitoki (off-camera): And you just recorded yourself announcing your devotion to illegal music, Shu, so it’s lucky you’re not looking to turn to hacking –

The camera swings to focus on Yoshitoki, who blushes and turns away.

Yoshitoki: And does Ms Ryoko know you’ve borrowed that thing?
Shuuya: Hey, I’m not taking it outside, it’s not gonna get lost. I’m just capturing the moment here.
Yoshitoki: The moment of it pouring with rain and you being too lazy to go replace your busted guitar string, so you’re bored, and can you stop pointing it at me?
Yutaka (off-camera): Hey, hey, Shu, over here –

The camera moves round to Yutaka, who is crossing his eyes and sticking out his lower jaw.

Shinji: And thus the great Yutaka Seto was immortalised as a midget of taste, dignity and decorum.
Yutaka (returning his face to normal): Hey, Shu’s looking to record reality as it really is, right?
Shinji: Fair point. I think we can say he’s certainly captured you in all your glory –
Yutaka (crawling closer to the camera and speaking directly to it): And, you know, one day we’ll look back on this and be all ‘Man, remember when we were so young and beautiful?’ Except Mim, who’ll be like ‘Ah, I peaked too soon, I was never this awesome or had as many women throwing themselves at me again’ –

Shinji scrambles into view, putting Yutaka in a headlock and giving a peace sign to the camera as he does so.

Shinji: Yeah, well, Yoshi had a point about the taped confession of anti-government music, Shu. I mean I know you’re hardly a master criminal, but even so.
Shuuya (off-camera): Come on, I’m hardly going to organise a public screening of this. I record, we play it back, we all laugh at Yutaka –

Yutaka, still in the headlock, gives a thumbs-up.

Shuuya: And then maybe the rain’ll have stopped and we can go out after all. And then I’ll wipe this.
Shinji (letting go of Yutaka): Sounds like a plan. You’re hardly taping anything you couldn’t get every day. Sparkling talk like this is a default with us, let’s face it…
Yutaka: Yeah, but maybe you’ll stop hanging out with us sometime. You know, and, and you’ll play this and remember how cool your friends were…
Shinji (shaking his head): We were too good for you, Shu. You didn’t know what you had.
Yoshitoki (off-camera, at first indistinct): … ironic if we all end up on the Program.

The camera swings round to look at him again and he glowers and puts his palm up to block its view.

Shinji: Well, it won’t be ironic now you’ve said it. It was gearing up to be a beautiful moment of unknowing innocence or whatever and now you’ve wrecked it.

The camera swings away from Yoshitoki towards the window, which is speckled with rain.

Shuuya: Hey, I reckon it’s stopped. Okay, how do you switch this off –



[Title] Fragments of the Great Tokyo Empire
[Fandom] Akira (manga)
[Notes/Summary] A group of survivors took over a ruined city. The story isn't as simple as that.



... American troops attempted to enter Neo-Tokyo soon after this occurrence. This was claimed to be a bid to get humanitarian aid to the survivors of the cataclysm, but is widely believed to have been the intended first step in a move to bring the city under US martial law[citation needed].

However, the initial invaders were repelled by armed civilians, who announced that the Great Tokyo Empire remained in existence and – in one of the most controversial statements of this period – that “Akira still lives among us[35]”. Debate as to the meaning of this has raged since. In Secession: Questions of Japanese Identity Following the Collapse of Neo-Tokyo, Ichiro Yamamoto highlights that there are no recorded sightings of the child “Akira” following this statement[36]. Hypothesising that he had died in one of the seismic events shortly before, he believes the statement to be a pragmatic deception engendered to prevent forcible intervention from Japan, the US, and national and international law. However, in The Rising Sun and the Great Eagle: America's Changing Definitions of Japan, 1975 – 2050, Miho Suzuki draws attention to the fact that the US pulled back from active engagement with the Great Tokyo Empire – and, to some extent, Japan as a whole – from this point, which suggests that they felt the declaration to be something other than an empty threat[37]...

...The Great Tokyo Empire existed for another five years, formally reunifying with the rest of Japan on 23 March 2043[50]. This followed a week of intense negotiation and several months of soul-searching on the part of the Japanese Diet:

“The destruction in 2038 had engendered an atmosphere of despair among politicians and the Japanese people alike. Tokyo had risen from the ashes twice, from the firebombing of 1945 and from the annihilation which triggered the Third World War; to see it razed to the ground again struck at the literal heart of Japan. The secession of the city as the Great Tokyo Empire further fuelled the belief that it was beyond saving; nothing more than a war zone, a refugee camp, or a nest of extremists.” – Jiro Yamazaki, Behind the Front Lines in Japan's Most Devastating Century[51]






12 April 2068
GOD I WISH I'D NEVER COME HERE.

There, I said it. Wrote it. Whatever. Feel a bit better now. Every time I kept thinking I want to go home I could hear Dad in my head going on and on about how Kyoto is so boring and I'll be stir-crazy after a week. Like he even knows. Like he's even been here. Like he's ever been ANYWHERE but the former Great Tokyo Empire.

And I'm sorry but I'm so sick of the way he kept acting like wanting to go to college was such a weird thing. Like, HEY, DAD, wake up and join the rest of Japan!! Oh wait, YOU CAN'T because you were LITERALLY off sulking in a whole other NATION. It is ridiculous how he always acted like I couldn't date guys with bikes and I couldn't go climbing around in the ruins when he still has a bike and goes off scavenging NOW, but when I try and be the good daughter and work actually really hard for college and spend my entire life in cram school and night school and literally nearly go CRAZY getting that dumb scholarship, he just laughs at me?

Everyone keeps looking at me funny. Like they expect me to be psychotic and covered in tattoos and not know what chopsticks are because I HAVE ONLY EVER EATEN FOOD I TORE FROM RUINS AND CORPSES WITH MY BARE HANDS. That jerk Sakamoto was like 'so are you an international student then?' and 'how did you get to take the entrance exams, like I mean you wouldn't have been to school?' I mean did he MISS the whole reunification thing? I shouldn't have been so sarcastic with the whole 'uh, actually, of course we had schools, by the time I was born they'd rebuilt a lot of the city, didn't you know' but... like if it had all gone down in Kyoto or Osaka it wouldn't have been any different, people would've just dealt with it and rebuilt stuff.

Okay, no, they probably wouldn't have been so like 'FUCK YOU' to everyone else, because my dad wouldn't have been there. Ha ha.

Just I think I'm too loud, everyone thinks I'm too loud

And this place is tiny, you can practically walk from one side to the other in a day and nothing looks real, I feel like I'm living in a dolls house.

And I just keep thinking about HOME and wrapping myself up in quilts and hiding in my room, in the bit where the ceiling's so low you can't stand up, and Dad goofing around and trying to make me laugh and then Mum rolling her eyes at him, and helping out at the garage and ARGH I am pathetic, when they were my age they'd been almost killed a bunch of times and there were still loads of dead bodies showing up and I can't even take being in Kyoto?


OK, whatever. 1) Go get dinner. 2) Do the reading for Core I. 3) Fill in that form they keep going on about. 4) Try not to be a complete wimp. As befits a child of the Great Tokyo Empire :p





Guns taken apart, the pieces lined up in regimented rows on the low table. The older woman cleans each piece, gaze focused, while the younger one watches.

“God, Mum. Pretty sure it's not legal for you to have all these.”

“Well... they don't ask, and I don't answer. Besides, half of them are family heirlooms. Auntie Chiyoko would turn in her grave if she knew I'd got rid of her armoury.”

“I suppose. I just... you're careful, right? You and Dad, you're not as young as you were, I just –”

The older woman gives her a cool stare. “I'm not dead yet.”

“Yeah,” her daughter mutters, “and I'd like to keep it that way.”

A half-smile. “Chiyoko also drilled into me the importance of, ideally, not using a gun if you have any concerns about your ability to.” A frown. “Showed me it plenty of times with other people, come to think of it.”

The younger woman rests her palm on the table, arches her wrist, makes her fingers step over each weapon part. “I was telling Ryuji about this, how when I was little you'd let me watch while you sorted out the armoury. He said that was such a Great Tokyo Empire childhood memory.”

“Shows what he knows. Chiyoko and – and my brother took pieces apart in front of me from when I was old enough to remember, and that was when the city was still standing.”

“Huh. Sounds like you were ahead of your time. Empire before there even was an empire.”

The older woman shrugs. “You know, it’s funny. They all talk about it now like it was such a… like establishing the empire was the whole point. Like it was all about that.”

Her daughter stays quiet, watching her, and she carries on, “The empire part was just… kids playing games.”

“But… you were… you were one of the ones who… you chose to keep it as an empire. When the US came.”

“Kids playing games.” The older woman smiles. “Have you seen your father? He spent the next month retelling that triumph.”

“Not to me.” She glances away, picks at the hem of her skirt.

“Well, no. But a lot of it is… is his story to tell.”

“It’s hardly surprising I buy into all the legends,” the younger woman says, mock-frustrated. “He’s so close-mouthed about it. If you and Kaisuke hadn’t said stuff to me I probably wouldn’t know he was even involved.”

Her mother smiles. “You’d have guessed he wouldn’t be far away, right? Knowing him.”

“Yeah. Knowing him.”

“Whatever you say to people…” The gun clicks closed. “Whatever you say, someone will take it and try and use it to their advantage if there’s anything of value on the table. I wasn't going to risk... there was a lot to lose. Specially after you came along.”

“I guess. And… also, you hate people asking you questions.” She smiles. “Dad, though… he tells everyone about the stupid things he did, so why... why is this bit off-limits?”

“Your father didn’t want his part of the story getting picked over. He felt he owed… he owed some people that.”

“Owed them?”

But the older woman is silent, focusing on the movements of her fingers, and in the end her daughter just shrugs and gets up to fetch some more tea.



[Title] Needles and Wool
[Rating] PG-13 for death and violence
[Fandom] Malory Towers, post-ending of that Malory Towers Battle Royale I wrote one time. The survivor of a deadly game wakes up to her new reality. (So yeah, um, spoilers for my own fic though I probably don't need to warn for it!)



The shot died away but June can hear it still. The shot and birds cawing in shock and Felicity falling onto her back, eyes wide with horror. Ringing in her ears and it echoes down her arms and in her hands, in the – the bloodied stump of her finger, Felicity shot off her finger and it hurts

In the air she can hear voices. Miss Grayling's voice. What she's saying is important, must be important, but June can't hear it. The shot is drowning it out. The shot, and the echoes.

***
When she opens her eyes her head is fuzzy and her hand is wrapped up in something. She can't feel it. She can't feel much. Her head is fuzzy and so are her ears. Something bleeps, over and over. Three, two, one, boom. She's trying to reach her throat, trying to see whether she's got the collar on still, but she can't move her arm properly.

Lie still, someone tells her. It's all right now. You did very well.

***
The shot. Her finger slippery on the trigger. Felicity staring at her in horror. The gun hitting the grassy ground.

***
Her head is still fuzzy and her mouth tastes of wool. Eyes itchy with sleep and why was she asleep, how stupid can you get, someone will find her, someone will kill her –

Scrambling to sit up, to grab anything close by, but her fingers tangle in sheets and something tugs at her arm, a needle, sticking plaster.

“June. It's all right.”

Miss Grayling's voice, but no longer echoing over frosty ground. Warm and close by and almost calm, as if before was all a dream. June turns to look. She moves and a hundred little things feel wrong, a dozen needles and wires tangle her up, her hands and feet are so far away she can hardly feel them.

Miss Grayling sits next to her and she looks as if she's seen the end of the world.

“Lie still,” she says. “You have a lot of recovering to do.”

June swallows and through the woolly mouth someone says, “Where am I?”

“In a hospital. Recuperating before you are sent home.”

Home. Everyone was going home. They thought... and June thought...

I won, she realises, I won, I won and she is shivering so much it hurts. Cold cuts through wool. Needles. This isn't real. This can't be real. It was a bad dream. It was all a dream.

“It was a terrible accident,” Miss Grayling says. “The coach crashed. It overturned on a narrow road. There were no other survivors. Do you understand, June?”

***
Birds shrieking. Teeth scattered in the grass. The river is almost silent.

***
The woolliness comes and goes, but the needles stay. Some of them are real and some of them are when she moves and some of them are in her head. She knows she isn't wearing the collar any more but she thinks that she is, really. If she makes the wrong move then the world will explode around her.

She isn't letting any of them see this, of course. Not the nurses and doctors who come to see her every so often and never look her in the face, and not Miss Grayling, who is always there even when she isn't.

“You'll be moved to a hospital closer to your home,” Miss Grayling says. “You'll be able to see your parents. The doctors have already warned them you have had a terrible shock, that you might say things which sound odd, or which are untrue.”

The girl who shot Felicity says, “Oh, no, I won't do that. I wouldn't want to worry them.”

“I think that's very sensible,” Miss Grayling says. She's getting to her feet. Her voice is in the air and in the sea. “They'll want to see that you are all right, not that you are making a fuss about things that didn't happen. I will see you back at Malory Towers soon, I very much hope.”

You don't start to cry. Especially not when you have won. June stares at the ceiling and waits for her eyes to remember this.

“Your trunk from the coach has been sent on,” Miss Grayling says. “I hope all your things have been recovered... your clothes, your other things for school, your sketchbook... but anything that is still missing will stay missing, I'm sorry to say.”

***
The sketchbook is placed between two other books in the trunk, as if June had been the one to pack it after all. The cover is smeared with dirt and sand. June remembers then what Darrell said, centuries and centuries ago. I have a sketchbook in my bag showing half the class dead. I want to know if you were responsible for any of them. June thinks she'll start screaming but then she remembers that she won and she is recovering and that she will never scream again. While she is awake, anyway.



[Title] Survival Skills
[Rating] PG
[Fandom] Death Note
[Notes/Summary] After Los Angeles, Sayu watches horror.



In daylight, Sayu curls up on the sofa and watches cartoons or stupid game shows. Anything with laughter and lots of exclamation marks. Mum sits with her sometimes, and they pretend like they both wanted to be doing this, like they’re just relaxing.

In darkness, when Mum’s gone to bed, Sayu sits in bed with laptop and headphones and watches pirated footage of anything horror.

She doesn’t bother with most of the supernatural stuff. Vampires and zombies, she gave a few a try but she found herself falling asleep or skipping ahead. Ghosts can be better. White, crusted things always at the end of the corridor when you swore you left them behind three rooms ago. Sounds behind you, things behind the curtain or under the bedclothes that shouldn’t be there. People with no faces crawling towards you, rotting, watery fingers.

Ghosts are okay but the best are the ones where it’s a person. It feels like coming home, watching people flee through shadowy corridors, knowing that something is coming for them. Ghosts, you might not be able to see creeping up on you. Ghosts, you might not know someone got horrifically murdered in your house in years gone by. People? You have no excuse for running upstairs instead of out of the house. If you didn’t notice the knife was gone, you deserve to get stabbed by it. If you witnessed a murder and didn’t tell, something will find you. She finds herself crying for the victims anyway.

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