i'd lie and say that this was spur of the moment and came from me suddenly, like athena sprouting from zeus' head, but the truth is, this story has been with me for a long long time (2014-2015ish), and has mutated several times within my mind, so... here goes...!
(chapter and story title is from the cypher series of songs by bts)
"Now we turn to Japan, where it has been sixteen years since the D-Reaper attacks on Tokyo, which killed over 500 people in one of the worst attacks on Japanese soil..."
Camille pinches the bridge of her nose, breathing a cool breath in, then out, before resting her head on the wooden counter in front of her. The urge to bolt into the closet, lock herself in, and hide in the corner is nearly overwhelming. Her hands shake against the counter, and she feels a cold sweat wash over her body. Briefly, she closes her eyes, before opening them again, and scanning over the tiny, colorful cafe. No one is sitting at the dark, wooden tables, newspapers flung across them in disarray, and from what she can see of the hustle and bustle outside, no one is coming in. She has the whole place to herself.
So, she decides to treat herself to try and stave off some sort of attack, and turns on the shiny new espresso machine. Grabbing a carton of cream from the fridge, she makes herself a latte in an attempt to distract herself from listening to NPR playing over the speakers. However, part of her breaks her own rules, and she ends up listening intently to the report on the D-Reaper attacks.
"The virus manifested itself in different forms to wreck havoc, classified as 'agents' by the Japanese government computer intelligence division 'Hypnos'..."
Camille can hear the monotone voice of her therapist nagging her already, for deliberately letting herself listen to something that could kickstart a particularly violent episode. That she knows that reading or watching news stories about mass murder reminds her of it (of screaming, exhaustion, and the stench of sulfur), and knows that the D-Reaper attack being shown on TV was a trigger for an extremely painful panic attack once before. Any event like that always is one.
With a shake of her head, Camille clears her thoughts. Focus, she thinks, focus on your latte, not the D-Reaper or your therapist. She picks up the white mug resting on the espresso machine, and sniffs at the coffee, blowing on it before taking a sip. The warmth and flavor of the drink calm her down, backing her away from an attack, and she lets a breath out of her nose.
Out of her ear, she can hear the tiny little bell above the door ring as someone steps inside the cafe. Camille glances up, adjusting her black, round glasses with a push of her index finger.
"Hello, Ms. Tologanak!"
It's one of the dishwashers, Ron, a scrawny little teenager, with brown skin and still wearing his high school's fancy uniform, carrying his slacks and messy shirt on his arm. He slips behind the counter and tucks his bag in a little cubby for the employee's personal goods.
"Hey," Camille smiles, waving at the kid. "You working closing today too?"
Ron nods, glances over at the cup in her hand and frowns.
"Bad day?" he asks, and Camille nods glumly.
"Yeah," she sighs, adjusting her short hair. Camille smiles crookedly at the boy. "Don't tell our boss."
Ron snorts, heading towards the kitchen, a small metal room with a large assortment of pots and pans.
"I won't!" he laughs, before turning towards her with a grin. "Just finish that up fast!"
Camille snorts, taking another sip of her coffee as he shuts the door behind him. Something, a glint of light in an open drawer, catches her eye. Walking over, the woman spots some sort of… old card reader, with a set of cards next to it. She gently picks up one card, and flips it over. On it, is a design of a large, wolf-like creature, white with blue stripes, roaring with a confident expression, the text above it reading "GARURUMON". Camille feels a small smile grow on her face.
"Yeah?" he shouts, peeking out of the kitchen door. Camille turns to him, flashing the cards.
"Whose cards are these?"
"Oh, the new cashier lady got them… Amy, I think," Ron smiles, running his hands through his short hair. "Probably left them here, or whatever. She's big into that Digimon card game. Why are you asking?"
"Used to play the game as a kid," Camille grins, and Ron raises his eyebrows. "Was pretty good at it too! My parents would ship me off to tournaments and shit."
(She omits the fact that Digimon trading cards in Québécois French were one of the few things she still has from foster care in Montreal.)
(He doesn't need to hear that.)
"Really?" Ron says, drumming his fingers on the metal door. "I never really got into it when I was a kid. But, it looks like it's coming back into style, my little cousins just started playing it seriously. Said that there are professional players and shit now."
"Well, maybe I'll go professional then. Become a big name Digimon player or something. Make lots of money."
"Well, don't forget about all us regular folks!" Ron laughs loudly, crossing his arms. He shuts the metal door, and a quiet falls over the cafe. Camille sighs, puts the cards back, and looks around the cafe, aimlessly tapping her foot until she hears the chime of the bell again, and gets to work.
A few hours of serving hipsters and business people later, an exhausted Camille flips the 'OPEN' sign to 'CLOSED', leaning against the door for a few seconds. After resting her eyes for a few moments, Camille reaches for the broom resting against the trash can and begins to sweep away dust. Ron opens the door, cleaning off his hands with a white paper towel.
"You know," he says, and Camille looks up at him. "That digimon thing made me remember a rumor from my elementary school days."
"Yeah," Ron nods his head, sitting down on the counter. "There was a rumor going around… like that, digimon were real, and there were real life tamers in Japan or whatever who fought with them."
Camille bursts out into hysterical laughter and has to stop sweeping to collect herself, leaning against a tall, black chair. She covers her forehead with a sweaty palm and takes a few breaths in and out.
"Seriously?" she asks, leaning forward and gaping at Ron. The boy nods vigorously, and Camille laughs again, her shoulders shaking. She slaps her knee repeatedly. "Oh man, that's hilarious! Where did they hear that from, Godzilla? Good god, did they seriously think that a fucking digimon was going to tear through Center City?"
Ron shrugs, a big grin on his face. Camille sniffs loudly, stepping off of the chair, and Ron copies her, heading towards the door, before jolting straight up, and walking back to the counter.
"Well, I'm gonna head out now. All my shit is done, so I'm gonna get some dinner, and get some shopping done," Ron says, picking up his backpack from the cubby. "See you, Ms. Tologanak."
"See you, Ron."
The bell rings as he shuts the door behind him, and Camille sighs painfully. She finishes sweeping up the worn wood floors, locks the display case and back room, wipes down the coffee machines and counter. As she tugs out her black pull string bag from her cubby, a small, weird looking electronic device and a metal bracelet shining in the dim light falls with it, landing with a clunk on the floor.
Camille stares blankly at the items on the floor. Those weren't hers… Were they that new girl's? Doesn't she have a cubby of her own? She shouldn't be leaving her crap in another person's cubby!
Camille gingerly picks up the electronic device and examines it carefully. Its shape is like a rounded triangle, and it has a D-pad with two large buttons to the right and left, and a round screen above the D-pad, in the middle of the device. The device fits in the palm of her hand, and it's a mostly metallic gray, with a bright orange perimeter around the screen, the two buttons are orange as well, and the strap connecting to the device is the same color. Instinctively, she presses on the giant buttons, but instead of something bad happening, there's nothing. No angry beeping, no screen turning on, no bootup sequence, nothing.
Camille hums, and reaches for the bracelet, and picks it up. There's a couple of notches along the front of it and some sort of orange gemstone in the middle. It shines silver with a hint of gold in the light, it practically begs for her to slip it on. She tries to reason with herself, that it was probably someone else's bracelet that cost a lot of money, is she some sort of thief? However, base instincts of 'oooh, shiny thing' prevail, and she slips the bracelet on her wrist.
For a few moments, nothing happens. Camille marvels at the fact that the bracelet near perfectly fits her, rotating her wrist with a small smile. She's brought back into reality by the device suddenly making a loud beeping noise, and she turns to see its screen glowing bright blue, and she feels a jolt of excitement run through her. Grabbing it from the counter, Camille clicks one of the large buttons, opening up a selection screen, and flips through the screen using the D-pad, but other than the blue screen, all the others reading "NO DATA". Huh, she thinks, very peculiar… Is it broken? Did the installation fail, leaving no programs on it? Damn...
The woman huffs angrily and covers her mouth in thought. If she just leaves this stuff here, someone could break in and take it… The bracelet at least looks pretty expensive, and Camille doesn't want to risk someone being upset over it. So, she slings her bag over her back, sticks the device in her pocket, and heads out the door, locking the door and placing the key in her boss's mailbox. Camille shakes her head, as if getting something off of her head, and walks forward, joining the crowds of people walking past the shop.
Her commute home is normal, consisting of looking at fancy storefronts and thinking about going out to Daebak for some barbecue, until she reaches Market Street. As she's waiting to cross the street, large, modern skyscrapers and chattering people heading home from work surrounding her and glinting in the fading daylight as cars rush past, she practically jumps out of her skin when she hears a loud beep from her pocket. Scrambling at her pockets, she pulls out the device and notices some sort of compass on it, a red arrow moving as her hands shake. After steadying herself some, she glances at the compass again, which is now pointing north, albeit with somewhat of a tilt. Oh, she thinks, someone must be looking for this thing through another device, and this is some sort of automatic feature to aid discovery! That's great! She'll just follow this thing down, and explain that she found it at work…! That's right, that's right…
Camille follows the compass on the device, probably looking like some sort of idiot, down a long ass street, past all the restaurants and the closest Wawa as people glance at her with odd expressions, Camille feeling their eyes linger on her back. She hates, hates hates hates, having stares follow her around. Like she's some sort of fuckin' freak show for carrying something odd...
The compass eventually leads her into Rittenhouse Square as darkness begins to set in, a large, peaceful park, full of walkways and dark benches. Bizarrely, a patch of dense fog has set over the park, and Camille blinks and whips her head around. There wasn't any fog coming in while she was walking here, and the weather seems decent when she steps away from the square. However, she just shakes her head dismissively and blames it on her mind playing tricks on her. Time to increase her Seroquel dosage again…
She enters the probably-not-very-foggy square, managing to navigate through the fog without looking like she's visibly hallucinating. No one's really around, even in the early evening, so she probably has nothing to worry about in terms of societal judgement.
The compass stops moving and beeps loudly and somewhat triumphantly as Camille reaches the center of the square. She makes a soft humming noise, cups her hands around her mouth, and calls out.
No answer. She frowns, before trying again.
"Hello? I got that weird device you're looking for!"
Still, no answer. Camille growls and stamps her foot in the dirt, arms folding across her chest as she paces aimlessly, chattering to herself.
"What a fuckin' bust! Stupid fuckin' thing sends me out in the middle of nowhere so that I can fuckin' prance out here and waste my time on a wild goose hunt. Real fuckin' great. Lucky I didn-"
The woman jumps straight in the air, head spinning around, looking for the source of the voice. She holds a hand to her chest, trying to calm herself. Sure, the voice might be calling her name, but there's thousands upon thousands of Camilles out there! Camille is a popular name among the French, and maybe some bougie families in the states too…! It's all just a-
She squats to the ground, covering her face with her hand, the device still in her other. This is not happening. Her body's just immune to her current dosage, that's all. Besides, she thinks, that voice, that weird, North Jersey accent sounds familiar…
"Are you Camille?"
"Will you fuckin' answer me?"
"Are…" she asks, standing up. The owner of the voice seems so obvious now, and Camille smiles despite herself. "Are you… Danny DeVito?"
"Who's Danny DeVito?"
Camille's eyebrows raise at that remark. You live here, and you don't know who Danny DeVito is? Really?
She spots a dark figure approaching in the fog, with small, soft sounding footsteps in the gravel. It's small, only reaching about to her knees, and Camille makes out what appears to be two sets of bunny ears on an upright form, almost like some sort of... digimon.
She internally curses Ron for planting bad ideas into her mind.
Finally, the figure gets close enough for Camille to make it out, and she steps back, her hands shaking. The… creature in front of her looks like a rabbit, if a rabbit was pale pink, could walk on two legs, had big, red eyes, two pairs of ears with large purple stripes, and some sort of… dress-like thing on the bottom of it, obscuring its feet. There's a weird, pink ribbon thing on the front of it, with a little medallion with a moon in the center, partially covering a large, yellow crescent moon across it's chest. In fact, there's moons all over this little thing, on it's head, on its arm, which are currently resting on what Camille assumes to be its hips. Camille gapes at it for a few minutes, unable to think anything beyond the phrase 'what the absolute FUCK'.
"There you are!" it exclaims, looking at her. Its little mouth is wide with a toothy grin, and Camille shivers at the sight of fangs. "You look just like Azulongmon said you would! Why didn't you speak up, and tell me it was you?"
The words come out of her mouth faster than she can stop them.
"What… are you?"
"What am I?" the little rabbit thing with Danny DeVito's distinctive and iconic voice asks, squinting at her. "Are you some sort of idiot? Isn't it obvious, Camille? Don't you know who I am? Didn't the Sovereign tell you about me?"
"It… isn't…" she stammers, before regaining her voice. "No! I don't know what you are, how you know my name, and who these 'Sovereign' people are! So please, fuckin' enlighten me!"
"Fine then! Lemme spell this out, real simple," the creature sneers, walking closer to her and poking her knee with its purple claw. It speaks slowly and condescendingly. "I am a digimon, named Lunamon! You are a human, named Camille Romy Tologanak! I was sent here, by the Sovereign, to become your partner!"
"With that bracelet around your wrist, you can transform into a Reaper, and protect this city from evil digimon alongside me! Do you understand now?"
Camille stares, jaw ajar before she finally speaks up.