I loved this manga. I had to write this.
I know Pet Shop of Horrors isn't nearly as popular as a lot of other mangas and I know the anime sucked (seriously - the count is SO not that creepy) but maybe a few people out there will read and review... hopefully...
I love Count D, but I do not own the character or any other aspect of Pet Shop of Horrors.
And now, enjoy!
In Chinatown, Los Angeles, there have been several peculiar and unexplainable occurrences in the past few years, but none as fantastic or mysterious as those linked to the pet shop of the mystifying Count D. However, while the merchandise he sells range from house pets to exotic creatures of every nature, he continues to insist that what he truly deals in is love and hope, desires and dreams…
The girl at first appeared to be a mere shadow, moving within the darkness in silent, fluid motions. Her footfalls were so light that one would not hear them unless they were expecting to. She had the urgent air of one who does not want to be discovered hanging about her, and she started at every noise. She slunk through the maze of alleys in the city's downtown area, crouching behind dumpsters and dilapidated piles of forgotten cardboard boxes to conceal herself from passing cars. At the sound of sirens, she would jolt violently and sprint for another alley, preferably a darker one, and press herself against the wall of a weatherworn building or fence, hidden in the black, her eyes squeezed shut and her breaths short and disconnected.
Nothing about her particularly screamed "homeless." She was not unclean, nor were her clothes torn or tattered. She wore loose, faded jeans and a plain red t-shirt. On her feet was a pair of black converse, caked in mud. A thinly rimmed pair of glasses framed her peculiar eyes; the left was a deep brown and the right a startling emerald green. Slung across her shoulders was a bag fit to burst; it was quite obviously so full that she had needed to force it shut. The only thing truly rough and ragged about her was her hair. It was a soft brunette, hanging down to a point just below her collarbone, and the ends were uneven and sloppily cut, executed by unskilled hands and not the deft ones of a professional.
The harsh noise of a siren permeated the cool November air, not far off, and she gasped, her muscles tensing before she sprung out of the shadow of a pile of rank garbage bags, praying that the reason for the siren was not because the people who had set it off were in pursuit of her.
Rhine Bradford was on the run. She was not a thief, not a murderer, not a criminal. She was a runaway, and a fresh one at that, having stormed from her home one nine hours previously without the intention of ever returning. Legally, she would not be considered a missing person for another thirty-mine hours, but her father had some prestige among the Los Angeles Police Department, being the former police chief and having several still loyal officers still employed by the LAPD. Many owed her father favors still, and he could probably pull a few strings if he wanted to. Rhine shuddered at the prospect of being discovered and forced to return home, knowing the punishment for running would be severe.
When the siren faded, Rhine stood and took a few tentative glances around before slinking out of the foul smelling alley, letting out a long sigh of relief. She allowed herself a moment's respite and leaned against the wall of a decrepit old building as her heart rate slowly decelerated. She attempted to release the tension in her muscles and feel the cool air, but she found both tasks quite impossible. Her nerves were like live wires and she'd been unnaturally hot all day; since fleeing from her home the heat had only intensified, and she had pulled off her thin gray sweatshirt and stuffed it into the already bulging bag she wore. As the day progressed her head had begun to pound, but she ignored it and trudged on.
Presently, she was facing the dilemma of having only four hundred dollars in her possession – snatched out of her secret pile of cash, hidden below the floorboards beneath her bed – and having no immediate plans. Her departure had been rather abrupt and not premeditated. She knew she wanted to be away – away from that house and the life she'd taken her escape from. She'd considered buying a bus ticket and leaving Los Angeles altogether, but she got a highly unsettling feeling in her gut when she dwelt on that possible course of action. She'd never left the city, not once, in all her seventeen years. She supposed her first priority should be to find a job and earn some money to save up for food and shelter. School was no longer an option, of course – it would be the first place they'd look for her. A pity, really, that she would not be able to finish out her senior year of high school, but it was better than returning to that house, the place she'd once been forced to call home.
Rhine shook herself, irritated that she was still so absorbed with the mundane aspects of her situation and the life she'd given up, and set off down the maze of alleys she'd been navigating for the past several hours once again. After she had passed countless alleys the wind picked up, and she was disappointed to find that it seemed to blow right through her – though it made her hair whip wildly around her face, it offered no relief from the heat that had been possessing her all day.
A light rain began to drizzle over the city, and Rhine eagerly raised her face to the sky. The water, at least, offered some liberation from what she assumed was a fever. What began as a light shower quickly transformed into a downpour, and Rhine, though the rain felt wonderfully cool to her burning skin, realized that staying out in such wet weather would yield serious consequences – especially since she was already feeling ill. She sighed wearily and glanced at her wristwatch, dismayed to discover that already it was ten p.m. She had to find shelter, and quickly.
Rhine's stomach churned horribly and she grimaced. Food had not been on her list of things imperative to her escape when she was packing in a whirlwind, and all she had managed to grab before she stormed out of her house was a handful of granola bars and a bunch of slightly bruised bananas that had been sitting on her counter. She contemplated taking out a granola bar and munching on it, but her stomach was churning in a way that didn't so much as imply hunger but illness, so she decided against it as she ducked into another alleyway.
Lost in her frantic, worried thoughts, she walked straight into a pile of crates, and they went toppling over with several loud thumps. Rhine also went down with them, crashing into the pavement, and her right palm stung. She heard the unmistakable crunch of glass and swore colorfully as she scrambled to her feet. Blood was pouring from the gash in her palm, blotting the crates with splatters of crimson dots.
Her first action was to sprint for another alley, ignoring her throbbing hand in her frantic race to reach another far enough away so that someone who had heard the boxes toppling over wouldn't have time to investigate the source of the noise. When she felt she had gotten far enough to be safe, she stopped to examine her injury. She didn't have time for this! Exasperated, Rhine picked the glass away from the gash, wincing. Once she was satisfied that the glass had all been removed, she lifted her hand to her lips and ran her tongue over her injury.
The pain was instantaneous, like fire ripping through her palm, boiling her blood and incinerating her bones. No matter how many times in her life she'd done this, it always resulted in the same pain, but never for very long. Already it was fading, and as Rhine stared at her palm the wound crept closed until the skin was smooth as satin, the only evidence it had ever been there a thin, faint white line. That never ceased to amaze her.
As Rhine resumed walking, she rubbed the dried blood lingering on her hand and arm off, thinking no more of the cut she'd attained as she began to fret over shelter and food once more.
Another hour had passed when the city's labyrinth of alleys ran out, and Rhine found herself not a block away from Chinatown, glistening with red and gold lights and neon signs bearing Chinese characters and their English translations. Rhine found herself transfixed. It had been what seemed like an eternity since she'd been inside of Chinatown, on a school field trip her class had taken when she was in the third grade. It didn't feel like part of the city to her. It had its own aura, separate from the rest of Los Angeles, its own mesmerizing energy that made it seem like it was outside time itself. The block of the city was decorated with gold statues of lion-like creatures and dragons that you could almost believe, with enough imagination, would spring to life and crawl right off their pedestals.
At first, Rhine shuddered, imagining the punishment for being so near Chinatown. Her father had strictly forbidden her countless times from entering it ever again. He could rant for hours about how it would give her dangerous ideas and that the way she saw it – as a dreamland out of a fairytale – was unrealistic and therefore unhealthy.
But as she cowered at the thought, she realized – with all the impact of a speeding train – that she could go wherever she wanted. She had severed the bonds her father had held her captive with, and it was like all at once an invisible, crushing weight had been lifted off of her shoulders. She was free.
Next Chapter will feature everyone's favorite pet shop caretaker (since Count D doesn't really own it...) !
So, if I get even one person telling me to continue, I will gladly go write up chapter two! Imma be in the mountains for a week, so I won't know how you all liked it until I return on Saturday... so for now, ciao!