Adaptation: City Scrounger

A dark alleyway. Muttering, unintelligent-sounding voices. A dirty, aging man following them. Man swiftly and silently closing the distance between him and the voices. Mumbling becoming more distinct. Recognition of words. A nervous sweat dripping of the man's nose, plopping into grease water.

The voices stop. Everything freezes. Silence envelopes the night. Pitter-patter of feet exiting the narrow strip of road. Pitter-patter of ever-so-important information escaping.

"Damn it all!"

Fujitsu awoke with a start, on a park bench covered with a shoddy newspaper blanket. He had been laying on his side, but his upper body moved as if he were raising to sit up. Unfortunately, the cobble path wasn't as forgiving as his carpet back at home.

Rubbing his head after his tumble, Fujitsu scanned around with bleary eyes. The sun wasn't even up yet, although from his calculations, it would start rising in about fifteen minutes. Lampposts still giving the park a warm, friendly glow, there were still stark-black shadows everywhere. Just as well, Fujitsu thought, as the police would most likely start their rounds soon, looking for strays to question. At least, that's what he always saw in the movies, and since he had never had to live on the street before, he couldn't be too careful.

His body still in a sleep-like state, the aching middle-aged man slumped out of view and made his way to exit the park. But his mind was blazing with life and thought.

The stalking, the slip-away, the week he had spent scrounging around for information. The aging man would give anything to be back at work to make his job easier, not to mention more comfortable. Unfortunately, he knew situations like this were never easy, and his boss was smart enough not to allow him to have it easy.

Fujitsu stopped at the gates leading out of the fenced-off vegetation. His damned boss. He always was cautious of the man; that anomaly constantly had an off-vibe about him. Something, for lack of a more mature word (or perhaps its simple nature perfectly explained the man), dastardly.

A week earlier, he had shown up in Fujitsu's work space unannounced as the majority of his team was focusing on one their bigger projects, a vaccine that could slow down or even halt the effects of genetic mutation. Unannounced visits by him were always a cause for alarm, as somebody always was thrown into the trenches shortly thereafter. The atmosphere was rendered frozen and tense.

Due to his failure to show up to the board meeting in the week prior to that, Fujitsu was certain that the boss was there to fire him. He strode up to the authority figure confidently, ready to accept his fate and say his good-byes to his team. Greeting the slightly younger man, he asked how he may help his ever-so-hawk-eyed boss.

The man looked around and smiled, as if to say that he was rather impressed by the going-ons of the division. Pleasure was never something that this man expressed often, and as such it put Fujitsu in a wary mood. Boss then pulled an envelope from, out of his suit and handed it to his much-hated Head of Genetics. This seemed to confirm Fujitsu's suspicions of his unemployment, so he grimly accepted the package and tore it open. However, this is where things went out of whack.

It wasn't letter dismissing him permanently. In fact, nobody ever would have even begun to fathom if this man even had the capability to hand out such a thing: it was a vacation notice for Fujitsu Kamoguchi for an exceptional job well-done. A full month of it. With pay, and no objections.

Fujitsu just stood there, staring at the note, bewildered, unable to form a single word with his lips. He looked up to his boss and started to thank him, but the look on the man's face stopped him short. Shadows seemed to cover his face dramatically, the sinister vibe radiating from his being stronger than ever, with a look that clearly said, "Don't thank me just yet."

He strode out of the work space as suddenly as he appeared, leaving Fujitsu with the worst feeling of dread and suspicion he had ever felt in his life. Even as his underlings called out praise for him, saying that he deserved it (though definitely felt they deserved it more), he wasted no time in leaving his area to wander around the facility. He had to figure out what was the reasoning behind this because there was definitely nothing good about this at all, as optimistic as he would have liked to be.

Fortunately, the easiest part of his quest had popped up in the Visitor's Lounge. Two grunt-like men, both huge and mob-like, almost like they were out of a cartoon, had been muttering about the boss to each other. Even thought their speech was ape-like and damned near incomprehensible, Fujitsu was able to make out "Stoenn Boss wants us in Mas. Huge pay. We'll find out what we'll do there."

Was it highly unlikely that the two of them just happened to be in the building discussing their next objective? Yes. Even more unlikely that they specifically called their boss the "Stoenn Boss"? You bet. Extremely unlikely that this was anything other than a trap? Absolutely.

And yet, here Fujitsu was: slugging around Mas, digging for any information in any way he could. He was dirty, hungry, cold, and lost. But there was something going on, something that his boss, whose name still escaped him, was taunting him with. Something that could possibly endanger his old friends' company. For them, he was willing to put everything on the line, be them dead or alive.

However, Fujitsu, at this point, had to admit that he couldn't do this alone. He needed the help of somebody either as smart as he was, or sneakier than he could either hope to be. He typically favored brains over anything else, though.

He dug into the back pocket of his jeans and pulled out his cellphone. He unlocked it through its glass touch screen. It had just enough life for one more call. Might as well use it. He'd be able to charge it later, hopefully, so he dialed a number.

The phone rang for three seconds, then a click issued from it. "Hello...?" came a weary, feminine voice.

"Ayo, sistuh!" Fujitsu cried jovially, beaming around at the not-quite-awake people who managed to be wandering around the streets this early in the morning.

The girl hesitated. "... Papa?"

"Yup!"

"Why are you calling me this early? It's like... five-something Idunevenknow..." There was a scuffling of movement as Emmy Kamoguchi readjusted herself in her bed.

He laughed. "Oh, nothing. I was just wondering whether or not you were still working at the morgue?"

Emmy was waking up a bit more, and yawned, "I leave in a few days, but yeah, I'm still working there. Unless I'm ordered to stay longer again. Why are you as- wait, are you outside my apartment?"

Fujitsu looked around. "To be honest, I have no idea where I am. All I see are buildings, a park, some drunk at a bus stop, and a nice young lady looking at me from out her bedroom wind- ooohh...." His daughter was squinting down at him from her second-story window, questioning his sanity for the millionth time.

They stared at each other for a moment before Fujitsu screamed to her window, "IS IT ALRIGHT IF I STAY OVER FOR A WHILE?" Emmy dropped her phone and held her ear in pain. Fujistu still had his phone up to his mouth.

"Sorry," he whispered bashfully into the receiver.

=-=-=

Emeria set down a cup of coffee for her father in her usual spot (as evidenced by the wood finish peeling off the table) as he wrapped up explaining to her his recent chain of events.

She stat down opposite to Fujitsu as she took in his story. "You know, you could be reading into this way too deeply. You know that, right?"

"Yeah," he sighed, rubbing his eyes. "But I don't think so, and I don't think you do, either."

"You're right. Maybe. There's been a lot of strange things going on lately that you wouldn't even believe," Emmy sighed back, propping up her head with her hand, elbow resting at another worn-out spot.

"Twenty bucks says you're wrong,"

"Okay, so I had a dead body come back to life on me and a guy protected me with some aura powers or something as the dead guy threw fireballs at us."

"... I regret to inform you that I do not have twenty bucks on me at this moment."

Emmy chuckled, and shook her head, reaching for her T.V. remote to turn on the news. Her father always seemed to amuse her in some way even when he wasn't supposed to.

Fujitsu thought for a second. "Am I going to want to meet this guy?"

"I'm not dating him, Papa," she said disdainfully. Anytime she mentioned being around a guy, he always wanted to talk to them and make it very clear that she was her daddy's little girl and he would never surrender her over to some scoundrel-biker-goth-wannabe.

"Hey, I just gotta make sure he's the right guy for you is all."

Emmy rolled her eyes. "Well, if you want, I can set you guys to meet with each other, 'cause I'm pretty sure he's a detective of some kind, so he could help you."

"I'm not going to accept the help of some scallawag who's after my little girl's heart."

"Papa."

"Alright, alright," Fujitsu said, holding up his hands in surrender, grinning. "You can go ahead and call him and explain the situation. I'll meet with him whenever's good for him, considering I got three more weeks left to investigate. In the meantime, though, I'm crashing with you. Got that?"

As her father got up and plopped down on her no-longer-clean sofa, she had the feeling that the next few days were going to be rough.

"Oh hey, I think my program's on! Change the channel to number 8; I need to see what happens to Ed and mom-wife Jo!

Oh dear lord was this going to be rough.

The End

7 comments about this story Feed