On a warm humid day in August I decided that Makoto Hyuga would die.
Makoto rose swiftly from his bed at the sound of his alarm as always. In a deliberate motion he pulled the blankets from his body and allowed the cool air conditioning of his apartment to penetrate his defenses. For a moment his mind froze as low as the temperature of the room. He didn't want to get up and face his empty apartment. He had even less desire to go to work. But then an image fluttered into his mind: a raven haired women in her trademark red jacket looking directly into his eyes and smiling. This phantom memory was compelling enough to complete Makoto's transition toward awareness.
The cold tile of the bathroom floor was murder on his bare feet. It was a wonder that Makoto had never thought to close the vent on the wall that pumped out the cold air each morning. After showering quickly and brushing his teeth, Makoto dressed himself and headed for the door.
He didn't own a car, a point which Shigeru had no problem mocking him about. It seemed that Makoto was the only technician without one. His lack of transportation usually didn't bother him seeing as he could get around just fine by public transit. Only when Shigeru brought up the subject did it make him feel uncomfortable. It made him feel like he didn't belong.
The bus ride to headquarters was largely uneventful. Makoto used the time to go over some statistical data from the last angel encounter. He was already familiar with the material, but it didn't hurt to be extra prepared for the staff meeting scheduled that morning. He didn't have as much to present as some one like Maya, but his performance in meetings were his most important job function, asside from providing support during attacks.
As the bus neared his stop, Makoto shuffled his papers into the manila folder and exited the vehicle. The streets and sidewalks were relatively empty as always. The area surrounding NERV was seldom trafficed by anyone except for NERV employees. It didn't bother Makoto too much. He liked being alone, usually. He just wished it wasn't all the time.
Soon Makoto entered NERV premises. Again, he took the time to examine his notes as he walked through the deserted corridors. It never hurt to be over-prepared. Besides, the papers provided excellent cover for him to slightly peer over and observe any approaching traffic in the hall. This way he would have ample time to see someone approaching and come up with an appropriately phrased greeting.
For example, if say… Major Katsuragi was walking toward him, Makoto could peer over his notes and discretely examine her from a distance. He would look at her face. Observe the dutiful, smiling expression she always donned when in the presence of colleagues. He could admire her long well kempt hair, and neat pressed uniform (the vibrant red color of which made her natural radiant presence stand out that much more from any other employee of NERV). He would quietly scan her appearance for any sign of change. Perhaps she would have straightened her hair. She'd done that on a few occasions before. It was a look she wore particularly well. And if such a change had occurred on this day, Makoto would not miss the chance to complement her, as he had in the past. He would say (politely, yet confidently), "Good Morning, Major. Did you do something with your hair?" And seeing that he was taking a kind, professional, and completely un-creepy interest in her, she would tell him that, yes she had made an alteration to her appearance. Then Makoto would respond by saying (in a bold, yet sweet manner), "It looks very nice on you." Misato would be pleased, as most people are when complemented. Why would she not be? And she would smile at him a real smile, not the one she gave so easily to any business associate in a beige not-quite-military suit. She would thank him earnestly. Perhaps with a hint of a blush (though not from embarrassment). Then the two of them would walk together to the meeting, conversing lightly the rest of the way.
If such a situations were to arise, Makoto would be ready. But as it turned out, his careful planning was of little use today. He saw Misato, Ritsuko, and Maya walking well ahead of him down the long hallway that lead to the conference room. He could hear the sound of their voices and footsteps drifting back towards him. Misato was laughing at something Maya or, more likely, Ritsuko had said. He wondered how it felt to be so closely related to his superiors that he could share a laugh with them from time to time. He used to report directly to Ritsuko before Maya became her unofficial go-between. Even then, he had never shared a personal relationship with the doctor… or the major, for that matter.
Makoto buried his head in his notes and tried to ignore them. Maybe he actually did have more note studying to do than he previously thought. Maybe he was embarrassed by the sudden wave of jealousy he felt. Whatever the reason, he increased his concentration as he prepared for the meeting.
The conference room housed the usual crowd. The commander and sub-commander sat behind everyone, looming over them all from the raised seating in the back. Maya, Ritsuko, and Misato stood at the center of the room, no longer talking amongst themselves. Though their posture and mannerism suggested a professional openness that they lacked as they conversed in the hallway, Makoto didn't feel quite up to joining their group. Instead he stood next to Shigeru, who made a point of standing as close as reasonably possible to Maya and as far away from the three pilots as he could. It was rather rare for the pilots to be involved in a briefing unrelated to an angel attack, but the adoption of an experimental synchronization method was no small undertaking, and the pilots' input was required. With all the members assembled, the sub-commander opened up the meeting.
Ritsuko began by presenting what she called a "brief rundown" of the synchronization system. Throughout the entirety of this 20 minute presentation, Maya stared up at Ritsuko with something akin to admiration. She soaked in each word the doctor said, as if she hadn't already memorized the details of the project to a degree that reached dangerously close to obsession. Though, Makoto reluctantly admitted to himself, maybe he only saw her natural understanding as obsession because he comprehended so little of the project himself. The changes in synchronization all took place at a biological level implemented within the Eva units themselves. Makoto's responsibilities started and ended with data collection and maintenance/monitoring of the Magi. None of these tasks were directly related to the biological modifications that Ritsuko rambled on about. Data on synchronization would still be recorded in the same way, and since the system had not been implemented yet, the data itself had not changed.
Naturally Makoto's attention drifted throughout the presentation. He went over the various different ways he would reiterate the point that nothing would change as far as data collection with the Magi was concerned. It was a presentation that could be made in a single sentence, but he would stretch it out to at least five minutes, in order to ensure that everyone understood how thoroughly he had examined the situation. He was positive no one would be impressed by the depth of useless information he would provide, but it would ensure everyone in the room that his findings were accurate. He knew he was no Maya Ibuki, but he competent at least.
"Mine Gott, how long is this going to take?" Asuka almost whispered to Shinji. The only people who might not have heard her were the Commander and Sub-Commander, both because of their position in the room and the bad hearing that came with old age. "Why do we even have to be here? I don't care what they do to the machines as long as I can fight in them."
Shinji pretended not to hear her as Maya threw the two of them a highly annoyed glance. Quite a rare sight for Maya, Makoto noted. It was odd to see her so flustered, considering how mild mannered she normally was. In fact, it was hard to picture her angry at anyone. Even Asuka, normally beyond reproach, found the sight compelling enough to quiet down. She made the strangest face of shock, before turning back toward the projector screen. Like she was standing in a shower that suddenly ran cold.
Makoto couldn't help but chuckle silently at the situation. The impassive Maya Ibuki glaring angrily and the proudly brash second child turning timidly away. On a whim, he looked past Maya toward Misato and saw that she was containing laughter as well. For a single moment in time, Makoto looked into Misato's eyes and understood that she had seen the same thing as him and responded the same way. They were not just two people holding back laughter, but people holding back laughter together.
Makoto's heart beat faster. He could feel the blood pressure rising in his body. He stared at the Major in shock, feeling almost embarrassed by how excited sharing this moment with her made him. His pulse rose within his body. Beat after beat, coming faster and faster. He could feel his heart straining with effort. Every vein in his body pushed against his skin and muscle with each pulse. He felt his muscles contracting involuntarily. His jaw locked. His toes curled. His eyes bulged. Yet he continued to stare at Misato. Her horrified face stared back.
The pressure built. Misato was saying something, probably yelling it, but he could not hear her. He lost his balance and fell to the floor. She pushed past Maya and Shigeru and stood over him. She looked into his face, her mouth moving frantically. Saying words he couldn't comprehend. He wished he had control over his body. He wanted to tell her, "You're doing this to me. You made me feel this way." But he did not blame her at all. He loved her. If love meant feeling this way, then he was happy with it.
But then the pressure increased further. Makoto could no longer feel love for her. He could not see her at all. The pain was too great. It was all he knew. Pain in his arms and legs and hand and face. Pain in his stomach, his lungs, and heart. Increasing pain. Building pain. Growing and conquering all senses. Erasing Makoto. Filling him. Taking over until…
It declined. The pain began to retreat. Everything still hurt, but less and less each second. He felt his thoughts returning. An understanding that something completely unrelated to Misato Katsuragi had happened to him. Understanding that frantic words were being exchanged in his presence. He realized that images were forming in front of him. Shigeru kneeling next to him, holding the shirt he used to be wearing firmly to his neck as he lay on his side. Maya and Ritsuko's feet standing at the Magi access terminal, typing at the console furiously.
"Blue pattern scan complete," said Maya. "No angel presence detected."
Ritsuko made a response, but Makoto didn't hear it. His attention turned to Misato who knelt next to Shigeru. Her jacket was covered with a random pattern of darker red splotches. Makoto could only assume they were blood.
"He's awake!" she said. Her cheeks were tinged pink (but not in embarrassment). They too were smeared with hastily wiped off blood. "Ritsuko, He's awake!"
The doctor continued to tap away at the console and did not respond.
"What happened," Makoto asked?
"Don't worry, lieutenant, the medics are on their way." It hurt that she called him by rank in a situation like this.
"Everything's going to be alright, Man," said Shigeru sounding as if he truly believed every word.
The pain had decreased greatly. Makoto moved his arm a little. Misato moved to restrain him.
"Don't move yet," said Shigeru.
Makoto said, "I think I feel better."
To demonstrate this he moved his hand and grabbed at the shirt Shigeru was holding firmly to his neck. Before anyone could protest, he took the shirt from Shigeru and pressed it firmly to what he assumed was a wound.
"Why am I bleeding?"
The short answer was, no one knew. One moment he was standing watching the presentation. The next he was on the ground writhing as a stream of blood shot from his neck. The pressure from the shirt was the only thing keeping him from bleeding to death. No one knew what the heck was taking the medics so long.
Misato jokingly suggested that somebody on the medical staff was going to get fired for this. Only her face was serious. And she wasn't joking. She kept her eyes on Makoto and his neck, staring at him with a mixture of fear, concern, and sympathy. It made him feel remarkably stupid.
"I'm going to get up," he said. After assuring Misato and Shigeru that he felt much better than he looked, they consulted Ritsuko. She paused long enough from her frantic typing to give the okay. An elevated position would help deter blood loss.
Makoto was half walked and half dragged to his feet and into a chair. He cocked his head to the side, pointing the area of blood loss toward the ceiling. Realizing that his new position did nothing to alleviate his feeling of embarrassed stupidity, he decided to survey the mess he made.
Hardly a single person in the room had escaped the shower of blood that crept from his neck. Not even the commander and sub-commander were completely dry, as a slight spray misted onto their pant legs and shoes. He was surprised to see, that even the children had stayed in the room. Though probably not out of concern. Most likely they were too shocked to leave on their own. They stood a couple feet off from where Makoto stood, talking quietly among themselves. Each looking frightened, but trying to convince each other with words that everything would be okay. Rei Ayanami spoke to the others only when questioned directly. Otherwise she kept her eyes trained on Makoto intently, as if she expected the blood to abruptly start spraying again.
"Some mess, Man," said Shigeru drawing his attention. Makoto was glad for the distraction from Rei. She was making him nervous… and he found her eyes to be kind of creepy. "You better clean it all up when you're feeling better."
"I'll get a mop and be right on it," said Makoto.
I smirked a little because I knew he wouldn't do it. They had cleaning staff for that.
"We have cleaning staff for that," said Misato in a fake serious tone. She wanted to help lighten the situation. I think she's a kind person or at least she wants to be. "I'm more worried about the physical state of Lieutenant Hyuga here. I've seen a lot of things in my time, but I never thought I'd see a man burst an artery from holding back laughter."
Makoto laughed harder than he should have. It wasn't that funny but he had finally caught her eyes again. It was nice that they were laughing together.
"Oh geeze," said Shigeru. "You start that up and we'll be swimming in you, Man."
Makoto continued to laugh. He felt a heck of a lot better. The pain was completely gone. He couldn't even feel the wound at his neck any longer. Instead he felt remarkably light and airy. Though he still felt faintly embarrassed by the situation, it was nice to have companions at a time like this. Something like friends.
Rei Ayanami gasped loudly and pointed. Misato followed her finger to the bottom of Makoto's right leg, where a fresh pool of blood was forming.
"Damnit, Ritsuko he's bleeding again," she yelled. Without waiting for instructions she pulled up his pant leg as high as it could go. A jet of blood spewed out, covering her forearms. Before she could say a word, Ryoji Kaji handed her his recently discarded shirt and shouted loudly, "What the hell?"
He was not invited to this meeting. No one saw him enter the room.
Misato pressed the shirt against his leg to stop the flow. Makoto felt no physical pain. He was very much afraid.
"It stopped," said Shigeru. "Everything's going to be okay."
Not a fraction of a second later, Rei Ayanami gasped and said, "His waist!"
Blood flowed freely from Makoto's left side, soaking his beige pants into a deep reddish-brown. Shigeru rushed to add pressure his hip.
"I don't feel anything," said Makoto. "I can't feel anything at all."
"What's happening?" asked Asuka looking to Kaji for answers he had no ability to give. He ignored her and looked around franticly. He barely knew where he was.
"OH God!" said Misato. Blood flew from an artery on the other side of Makoto's neck. Then his fingertips. Then his temples.
Ritsuko looked back briefly, then continued typing on her console with renewed vigor. She was making no progress. She didn't think she would.
Maya stared and stared and then abruptly covered her eyes and screamed.
Misato, Shigeru, Kaji, and sub-commander Fuyutsuki played a hectic game of "plug the hole" on Makoto's body. Whenever a leak was found and pressure added, another sprung up on a different place.
Shinji would not look. He found a wall interesting. He put in his headphones, but forgot to turn on his SDAT. Even without the music, he found it easy to convince himself he wasn't hearing the screams. Asuka was yelling at him with her back turned away from the tragedy. She said he was a coward for not helping. Why wasn't he trying to help?
"Why, why, why?" asked Makoto.
"I don't understand," said Rei, with tears in her eyes. They were not talking to each other or even about the same thing.
Maya continued to scream. She clawed at the door handle which I would not allow to open. She banged on the door as if hoping to break it down.
"You're worthless!" yelled Asuka. "Get up you coward, get up!"
She was crying as well. She beat at Shinji's back mercilessly as her body shook with sobs.
"It doesn't hurt?" said Makoto. Not a single person responded.
"… Everywhere," Shigeru muttered. He was referring to the blood.
Misato swore quietly to herself. A varied stream of almost lyrical cursing, that made absolutely no sense. Fuyutsuki didn't speak. Neither did Kaji. He was too busy to be utterly confused. They all had their fingers covering as many holes as possible. They could do nothing about most of the leaks beneath his clothing.
Ritsuko calmly stated, "The human body does not contain that much blood." When no one responded, she said, "The medics should be here by now." Then she violently threw up.
Commander Ikari and Rei Ayanami's eyes met. Both were completely floored by the expression on the other's face.
"I feel cold," said Makoto.
Shigeru said, "Everything's going to be okay, Man." His tone was just as reassuring as before. No one believed him.
Shinji's back hurt.
Maya curled up in a ball on the floor and whimpered.
Kaji looked up at Makoto's face and instantly looked away.
Fuyutsuki took his hands away from Makoto's body and sat roughly on the floor. Several more fountains of blood came into existence. The old man cradled his head in his wrinkled hands. He knew a lost cause when he saw one.
"I liked you," said Makoto to Misato. Misato stiffened as he spoke to her, but would not look at him at all. "I wanted to tell you."
Makoto's soft voice barely registered over the stream of unintelligible gibberish Asuka was yelling at Shinji as she pummeled his back.
"I was just afraid to say it because I knew it would amount to nothing."
Misato was silent.
"Could you say something?"
"-Amoeba, swine, spineless-cockroach, hairless, little shitbag, doll-"
After seconds of hesitation Misato said, "I love you... so much."
She was lying. Badly.
Misato withdrew her fingers from various points of hemorrhaging, and grabbed both of his hands into her own. She rose from her spot on the floor next to him and said, "I'll miss you."
She did not know if these words were true. Slowly she brought her face closer to his and planted a soft kiss on his lips. When she pulled back, Makoto's entire body liquefied to a crimson flow completely drenching everyone's pants and shoes.
Misato, Kaji, and Shigeru (who had never stopped trying to plug holes) all screamed in shock.
Ritsuko, Maya, Asuka, and Shinji may have heard the sound of liquid splattering onto the floor, but otherwise were completely oblivious.
Rei and Gendo both stared unblinkingly at the sight.
Makoto's liquid spread out to cover the entirety of the floor. It flowed up the incline toward where Gendo was sitting and soaked into his socks. When it reached all four corners of the room, the blood began to flow up the walls.
Maya began to scream again as the sensation of blood soaking into her uniform on the floor, startled her from her whimpering. Shinji was finally forced to close his eyes, in order to not see what he was seeing. The sight of blood so obviously defying gravity caused Asuka to stop her barrage on Shinji. She was stunned into silence.
The blood continued flowing up the walls until it reached the edge of the ceiling. It covered that as well. Not a drop of blood from the ceiling dripped down to the ground below.
Ritsuko wiped at her mouth and looked at the ceiling in mute fear and wonderment. Everyone else followed suit. Even Maya and Shinji.
Then suddenly, all the blood flew from the walls, floor, and ceiling toward the center of the room. Even the blood that had previously been smeared across faces and soaking into clothing freed themselves from their confines and made their way toward the middle of the conference room.
The blood congealed into an amorphous mass. It moved and twisted upon itself, forming indescribable shapes and figures. Slowly the blood morphed into something… other. Its colors changed to various hues. Features formed on its exterior. It slowly took the shape of what was unmistakably a man.
That man was African American of decent. He appeared to be somewhere between the age of 16 and 19 (though his actual age was 21). He was wearing a white t-shirt with the logo of an American university, a pair of NBA shorts, and white socks. He also wore glasses, which he adjusted along the bridge of his nose for dramatic effect.
I was that man.
"Hello," I said.
Misato shot me six times in the chest and face.
The contamination room they locked me in was white and unsurprisingly sterile. There was no place for me to sit and nothing for me to play with. I like to play with things I find laying around in random places. It helps me pass the time without feeling anxious. So I pulled my watch from my pocket and began to clasp and unclasp it around my wrist. The cuffs section two had placed on me fell to the tiled floor as I effortlessly freed myself.
After several moments of playing with my watch, I decided it was time to move things along. The voice of Gendo Ikari came down to me from the loudspeaker located at the corner of the room.
"What is your name?" he asked.
"My name is I Am," I said. But then I felt somewhat guilty about the unnecessary reference to Christianity and said, "Okay, it's Fresh C."
"How did you enter NERV headquarters without being detected?"
"I was always here."
Gendo paused briefly before asking another question.
"What are you, Fresh C?"
"I am everything you've ever known."
"Are you an angel?"
"Are you human?"
"How did you survive being shot six times?"
"Misato did not shoot me," I said. "I'm not even here."
Again. There was a pause from Gendo.
"Where are you now?"
"In my living room."
"Where is your living room?"
"The United States of America."
"Too much information."
Gendo grunted his understanding.
"Why is Lieutenant Hyuga dead?"
"I wanted him dead."
"For what purpose."
"No purpose, at all?"
"Well…" I pretended to think about it for a second, but I already knew the answer. "There is one reason."
"What is that reason, Mr. C."
"To see your reaction."
In the observation room, located directly next to the contamination room, Gendo and Fuyutsuki exchanged glances.
"It's a sociopath," said Ritsuko, to no one in particular. Misato nodded her agreement.
"I am not a sociopath," I said. "I don't believe in harming people without a reason that leads toward the benefit of society as a whole."
"And yet, you killed Lieutenant Hyuga."
"I've never killed a person."
Then I grew tired of this conversation and its uninterrupted stream of dialogue. It was boring. It was not fun. It explained things much too slowly. It flowed like a snail.
Suddenly everyone who I cared about appeared in the contamination room. The list included: Gendo, Fuyutsuki, Kaji, Hikari, Toji, Kensuke, Shinji, Ritsuko, Rei, Misato, Asuka, and Maya (but only because Maya is cute). The shock of abruptly disappearing from one place and reappearing in another registered differently for each person. A series of gasps, swears, and screams filled the air. But then I silenced them so that none of them could talk.
A voice resonated in all their minds that each of them knew was not being heard by their ears. That voice was my voice. They listened to it in stunned silence.
I like analogies, though I have no particular skill in producing them. Bear with me now as I express an idea. A central theme, if you will.
Consider a coloring book.
An artist creates the lines. An amateur fills in the colors. When the colors exceed the limits of the line, the picture is ruined.
I am not an artist. Nor am I an amateur. Yet I provide the color of this world. In the past, I have filled the lines with color, hoping to shade the original artist's template in beauty. Now I seek to bend and warp the lines laid down before.
You are my pictures, formed from a template. My colors-by-numbers masterpiece. I will bend you to your limits, but your lines I will not break.
I will not change your thoughts, your feelings, or opinions. I will only change your situations. I will not break the template. What you become, is who you are.
Then I got tired of this pseudo-philosophical monologue and decided a change of scenery was due. We all met together floating in the bright blue sky. They formed a ring around me. Congratulations!
I said, "Makoto Hyuga died because his death was fun. His life was greatly undefined, and outside of death he held little meaning to any of us. So I filled him up. I poured thoughts and feelings into his rough outline of a character. And just when I was sure that we all liked him enough, I Killed him. Because I could. Because it would mean something."
Looks of shock and horror spread amongst the floating faces.
"You all have meaning to me and so you will live. And in every frozen frame of your lives, I will dig as deep inside you as I can to extract that meaning."
I smiled, but it wasn't nearly as charming or ironic as I wanted it to be.
"… Or maybe I'm just screwing with you."
And I was.
AN: The problem I see with most self-insets is that the author attempts to write themselves into the story as if they are a part of the world that the character's inhabit. The stories are all about someone no one cares about (the author) integrating with the characters we know and love.
This story, however, has little to do with me. It's all about the characters and their reaction to me (not as a character, but as the author of their lives). So yeah… maybe not as clever as a concept as I'd like to think it is. But I don't think I've seen it done extensively, or at least not in this particular way.
Maybe it was kinda entertaining? More to come later.