The first time Kinshiro Morooka saw red was the last time he saw the faces of his students, the taste of liquor mixed with blood rolling off the hilt of his tongue.

He saunters out of the Konishi's store, the neck of a glass bottle tucked in the digits of his fingers and floating gracefully over the black ocean of concrete. He's holding a brown bag full of other goodies like an unrequited lover in an unused embrace, legs walking the synthetic rhythm of a tipsy and flighty fool, mind on the verge of finding the hidden philosophy that Socrates and Plato were too stupid enough not to find.

Then a nine-inch iron gracefully connects to his head.

His bottle became an embellishment to his premature burial as it fell to the hard concrete floor, a myriad of crystals retracting the neon lights of the Chinese diner in a mock eulogy. But Morooka did not care that the crystals were crying for him, nor did it pain him when his body fell to the floor, slump and seemingly dead.

Some force wrestled Morooka for the bag in his unwavering embrace, unrequited lover turned cherished child. Two more hits to the head, and he lets go of his only prize in the world.

Morooka then lays on the ocean of concrete, barely conscious, breath heavy, playing possum in the vain hope that he will get out of this alive.

He screams when the nine inch connects to his knee joint, snivels when it moves on to his second.

Plays rag doll as his assailant slings one of Morooka's arms over a shadowed shoulder. The shadow picks up Morooka, who swears he cannot remember being moved over to the Inaba riverbed.

The feeling of grass on the back of his starched pressed uniform. The moisture in the air reviving his then caked-dry lips.

Sees moonlight through the air, burning the natural landscape with rot and dust.

There's a movement in the grass as rubber soles crunch sterile life. Morooka finds himself with a pair of lips pressed against his left earlobe, the poorly rendered form of a pixilated shadow kneeling over a broken body.

"You're lucky," there's the stench of burning microchips dying in the artificial moonlight, "you're a teacher. With the power of the voice to compel and enrich people."

The stench stops as the shadow stops talking. Morooka's heart is beating fast against his chest.

"People have to listen to you, weather they want to or not. While people like us, we're ignored by everyone, even people we love."

And for a moment, the game freezes, a quiet peace. There's the sound of monotonous winds rustling against the congealed grass.

Lips start to move on their own, live wires are controlling Morooka's every action from an outside screen.

"One up, kid, the only real wisdom is knowing you know nothing," he croaked, he's coughing, could taste blood welling up in his throat.

Morooka is almost sure he sees the blocks of the shadow's lips transition into a smirk in the moonlight, before the nine-inch makes contact with Morooka's mouth.


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