The Persona franchise belongs to Atlus, not me. Try not to forget.

It's your dead meat from former days...
I am your crisis.
Blue asbestos in your veins...
I'm your broken fingers.
I've killed you twice, I will again...
Revenge is eager.
See, first you'll crash and then you'll burn... !

There was something about Iwatodai City. Something I just couldn't put a name to.

Dorothy died for your pleasure!
It's hard to get along in this car- crash- weather- !

Something in the way the people were herded up and down the wide streets, dropping into and spilling out of pubs, cafes, arcades, brand stores that made up the shopping mall. The beastly bright screens hung upon the skyscrapers, blurting advertisements. Everyone had a destination-

'Cause your dead meat formaldehyde- !
Didn't phase me...
I soon returned to track you down...
For your confession...

This city was so new. No history to it, no dark secrets. Even the slummiest shitboxes had more character than this shinin' tabula rasa. Built as an example of what Japanese cities should be more like... a power plant, wind turbines everywhere, natural gas for buses, all that rot. There weren't even any bagheads sweeping alleys- a wrong, wrong sight to me, after living in London for so long. What if you got lost, huh? Who would you go to? These dyed-haired miniskirted schoolskets chattering among themselves, eyes riveted to their gaudy mobile phones, not paying a quid to where they're walking? Not bloody likely.

I'll be your poison and your pain,
I'll be your struggle to be sane.
Exploited... lament...
And the places you never went...

But it's not as if I had a choice. It was here or the gaol. And sitting behind bars, now that was a life just bang out of order. Swell for some, maybe. Not for me.

Dorothy died for your pleasure!
It's hard to get along In this car- crash- weather- !
Car crash weather!

That was enough of that. I hopped off the train at the station, ignoring the 'hey look at that, a gaijin'-type stares that seemed to hound my arse whenever I went past a specific longitudinal line. God bless xenophobia. I put those thoughts out of my head, cranking up the noise, letting the grungy base and guitar of Bush take me to a better place. Hell, the music was so upped people gave me glances on the sidewalk, even over the deafening noise of traffic and city life. My coping mechanisms aren't exactly what you'd call healthy, per se. One of the many things I have to work on.

But I was bitch-slapped out of my reverie upon slamming face-first into something on the sidewalk. I stumbled and flopped back on my arse with a loud "shittin' fuckin' hell!"

Picking up my bags, I looked up at the twat I had barreled into, to realize... I was staring at a coffin.

I blinked, and automatically whipped out my mobile to gander the time, but of course, it was dead. My music player was dusted as well, leaving me in a deafening silence.

Am I that late? Christ.

The world around me, once all bustling with the beat of the nightlife, was quieter than any grave. The moon, now a massive, bloated yellow eye, emerged from the dark cloud cover and casts its gaze over the flash urban cemetery. I shivered- it had only been a tad chilly when I arrived, but with this... time (if you could even call it that, I'm sure some quantum physicist would argue otherwise)... the temperature plummeted. My breath misted blood red in the night as I dusted myself off, mumbled a curt "so sorry" to the coffin I had barged into, and continued on my way.

I never... got used to that. The whole alternate-blood-dimension thing started happening when I was... seven or so, enough to give me panic attacks whenever I saw a coffin in the normal hours. Coffinophobia, if you would. And of course, no one would believe me- the way I described this Lovecraft-style time always came across to people as either a really charged trip or dream. I mean, sticky red stuff flooding the gutters, all these coffins with stock-still people stuck inside, shadows always dancin' about in the corner of your vision... Not a healthy thing for a boy that age to grow up with. What made it worse was that it seemed that I was the only one to experience this time warp, and you know how misery enjoys company.

My wandering mind skidded to a stop as a massive building loomed in front of me. It was impressively built, even by this cities' pretty high standards- I could spot solar panels on the roof, all that. And it matched the address, whatdy'a know. May as well wait out the space-time miscarriage in a cozy place, I thought as I hopped up the front stairs. And get a general idea of my new home.

My new home. Let's see how long this lasts. With a deep breath, I opened the door.

I blinked, shocked and dazed by the sudden light. Shielding my eyes with a hand, I squinted and took a look about- the lamps in the dorm were all on, flooding the lobby with warmth and light- proper yellow light, not that sticky sickly green pseudo-moonlight shit. My shoes sank into the thick cubist-style carpet as I took a few steps forward, my eyes toughening. This was a bloody ace dormitory if I'd ever seen one, a step above most hotels I had roomed in. And just for high school, at that.

"If you were counting on being fashionably late, you've failed. Spectacularly."

I froze, my head twisting hard to the left as if it were on slick ball bearings. Leaning lazily elbows-first against the counter was a pallid, sleepy young man, a cocked eyebrow warning a tick past agitated- and looking at me more than expectantly. Oh. Right. That's where I come in. Let's see...

"Uh, hullo," I replied in English, maybe a bit too quickly. Fagged and shagged as I was, had to be polite, at least. "I'm so sorry about the time, the train was held up, and the directions here were somewhat-"

The sleepy chap waved a pale hand as if to swat away my apology. "Excuses and all that jizzjazz later. You're moving into this dorm, right? 'Course you are, that's why you're here." I had barely began to nod before he pulled a slim purple notebook from the depths of his stormbeater, slapping it flat against the counter and flipping it open to the first page. It was a cheap little thing, really, something you'd fetch at a convenience store for a handful of quid. At least it was college-ruled...

But that's completely trivial. I looked closely at this funny young man; for all the lights on in the dorm, I couldn't see his shadow. Odd. And odder still... "How are you still-?"

"Awake? For fuck's sake, someone had to be." He stuck his hands into his torn jean pockets impatiently, straightening his tired back into a crickly-crackly stretch. Christ almighty, he stood a good two heads higher than me. "Why you had to take a fuckin' night train is beyond me. Jet lag, my ass..."

That... wasn't exactly what I meant. There hadn't been any lights in the windows of the dorm when I had made my way to the door. Maybe I had gotten the time wrong, or... or... those baffled thoughts faded as I read the words of the notebook, written out in a skilled English longhand, that spanned the first page:

"Upon signing this contract, I hereby declare myself fully accountable, at all places, times, states of bodily health and psyche, for whatever actions I may perform."

I frowned. High school communities were always wont to take themselves a tick too bloody seriously, but this... was odd. No stamp, insignia or signature of the dorm head, nothing to make it official proper and all that rot...

The young man- I guessed he was to be a dormmate or something along those lines, which I can't say I was looking terribly forward to- raked his stubble with dirty fingernails, looking a tick irritated. "I know, I know. Amateurish, but you gotta make do." He took a pen off of the counter, uncapped it with a flick of his thumb, and tossed it to me. "Just sign whatever, wherever. See that it's legible."

My brow furrowed deeper as I looked back down at the contract. Legally, there wasn't anything too glaring... the bit about mental health wasn't exactly encouraging, though. Then again, I had come too far to fall back- and it's not like I was too batty. Not like I had anywhere else to go, either.

Gritting my teeth, I signed my name, keeping it somewhat legible.

Jack Scarborough

I had thrown in a few impressive loops in there on the J and S, just for the hell of it. Got to have some pride.

He spun the notebook around as soon as I had touched up the capitals a tad, staring at the name, mouthing it a few times. He nodded, looking up at me, and I fought the sudden urge to step back. I hadn't noticed this before, but... the eyes staring out of that pale, bloodless face were dead. Empty, unseeing, vacant. Like the glassy gaze of a sleepwalker. I mentally recategorized him from 'prat' to 'maniac'. "Good enough," he mumbled, blowing gently on the ink and holding the notebook close to his chest. He sighed, scratching at his stubble with something like melancholy making his shoulders slouch. "No one can escape time..." he whispered, almost too quietly for me to hear.

"Uh... huh. I beg your pardon?" Blimey. A proper daft maniac. For a dormmate. The future ain't looking so bright, and I don't need any fortune cookie to tell me. No, wait... that's China-

He looked up, glazed eyes glinting, as if he had forgotten I was there. "Nothing, nothing. Just..." He shrugged, and tapped the plastic cover of the notebook, leaving little dents. "Inevitability, you know?" He grinned suddenly, his teeth surprisingly straight and white, as if he had just gotten them. "But for now, let's just sit back and watch. Sit back and watch all this insane bullshit begin. Shall we?"

Nothing like a piping hot crock of ominous pseudo-philosophical shit to get welcomed in. He gently tucked the notebook back into his stormbeater, and I looked around anxiously as the lights began to dim. "By the by... what's your name, mate, if I may ask?"

His unsettling grin widened. "Introductions? Look at you, all British prim and proper- you'll fit in here just fine," he said with a unnerving chuckle. I began to ask just what he meant by that, but the darkness consumed him, his body melting away into the pitch, his glimmering eyes and teeth the last to go.

Oh God. Oh God. Fucking hell. What the bloody f-

"Who's there?"

I whipped my head around at the words, mentally translating the Japanese into English, moving a bit slower thanks to the chap's freaky-arse disappearing act. My little internal translator blew a fuse, however, when I noticed a girl reaching for a pistol holstered at her thigh, breathing hard, her eyes wild. He fingers wrapped around the grip in one smooth motion.

Fuck no.

Too big a gap. Couldn't get at her gun. She'd tool me. Instead, I threw myself over the counter, rolling over to the other side, waiting for the bullets to start ripping up splinters. Not again, oh God not again, please not again, please God...

"Takeba! Wait!" Another voice rang out, this one stern with authority. I mustered enough courage to peek over the top of the counter. The girl with the pistol was slipping it back into the holster, looking back at another girl sheepishly- clearly her handler.

I'm doing you in tomorrow...
That's why I'm dressed In all- this- sorrow!
I'm doing you in tomorrow.
I'll burn before I mellow!

The lamps flickered back to life, and I squinted in the bright light. The intervening girl- woman, really- walked over to the counter with a toss of her red hair, looking down at me with an amused expression. My, her eyes were beautiful. A calming, dark amber. "I didn't expect you to arrive so late."

Well. What a great impression I've made.

Solid Snake CQC rolls over counters = best way to make friends. Obviously.

Been wanting to do something like this for a time. Bear with me, as Teddie would say.