Last night at Circle X, I met a shoplifter in a puffy pink prom dress.
Fuck it all. I have a headache that just won’t quit, but I promised myself I’d write something down as soon as I got home, just after sunrise. I felt like I just had to remember everything that happened tonight, in exact detail.
Is complaining about my head the right way to start a blog that’s unnaturally focused on Die Database, my current favorite band in the world? I don’t know. I’ve never actually written that much in the past, beyond diaries that will never, ever, ever, see the light of day, due to excesses of incriminating evidence on how my heart yearns so so much.
Oh yeah, my name is Tokie Murasaki. I would say nice to meet you, but in today’s day and age there’s no vouching for the random eyeballs that are reading this. Who knows? Perhaps you’re just a search engine crawler debating whether this page should be indexed, or a cute queer stalker girl that hasn’t gotten up the courage yet to talk to me at work. Either way, what are you waiting for?
I’m tired, and my eyes feel like they’ve been washed out with lemons, but I still have to write down everything that’s happened. First, Die Database, best band ever, etc.
Of course, I’m a bit biased, since I’m in contact with them most every day, either in reality or virtually.
Whatever. I promised MirrorPlay, EurythmyGirl, and other Die Database Fan Cloud members around the world that I would start blogging after the New Year, to offer my unique perspective on what’s happening with the band and at Argatha Labs.
Die Database is still fussing around in the studio, debating the sequence of their new album.
Yuma Natsume, the super model lead singer, is super pissed at everyone, since she thinks her vocals are still not perfect. She’s from Hakone, near Mt. Fuji, and so she deserves to be super pissed – gawking tourists rub her the wrong way.
Not that it really matters what she thinks about her own singing – the end result is bound to be awesome any way you slice it.
Right now I’m beta-testing Agartha Labs Narrative Engine 1.2 for Satomi Kurogane. She’s the bassist, and the bankroll behind the band. She grew up in Kamakura, land of the Daibutsu – the huge, green statue of the Buddha that everyone travels to see. She’s really tall, really smart, and runs Agartha Labs like a cruise ship – lots of activities on a tight schedule, and most people are having fun despite the occasional motion sickness from excessive innovation.
Agartha Labs is best known for their Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality tech. I’m her crash test bitch, always stumbling around with the latest headsets and bleeding edge holograms, even if it ends with vertigo and blurry vision.
If you’re already a Die Database Fan Cloud member, then you know what I’m talking about, but it’s going to get better in a few weeks.
They’ve almost fixed that crash that always happens when you try to track more than 255 people a time, and TweakLog now has a lot more commands. Voice transcription is much better, but there’s still a bug in the Universal Translator – it keeps confusing Thai and Korean for some strange reason. Should be fixed soon.
I’m also putting the new GhostServer update through some final tests – now it supports everything up to 4K UHD, but the extended texture pack still has a few glitches, especially if you’re trying to get by with less than 16GB of RAM. Direct Message me if you want to update your GhostClient before it’s officially released on February 1st.
Agartha Labs will be sending out the new eyephones and pico projectors around then – they have much better latency and resolution, and the holograms don’t flicker as much – so make sure you’ve updated your shipping address. You also might want to re-scan your Ghost soon, because the new system supports a much finer polygonal mesh – no more chunky hair! Send thanks to Izumi.Agartha for that.
Anyway… enough tech talk from Fan Ghost Zero. I have to write down what happened a few hours ago.
I was working the super-early morning shift at the Circle X convenience store in Ikebukuro, Tokyo – the small one right across the street from the tall Hotel Metropolitan building, on the West side of the train station.
You know, the Circle X that Masae Ekiguchi from Die Database used to work at, before she left to follow her musical fancies. Masae is going to kill me because I’m mentioning her so late in this post – she’s the thump thump drummer heart of the band, and one of the best people to get in trouble with. Just ask the punks in Yokohama, where her teenaged Doc Martens kicked everyone and everything into submission.
No other customers were in the store – we usually only get a few people an hour in the middle of the night, the usual mix of post-party drunken food scavengers, and pasty-faced night owls.
The shoplifter I mentioned at the beginning – the one with the crazy dress – seemed to be about 15 or 16 years old. She wasn’t Japanese, so I just assumed she was staying at the hotel and couldn’t wait for sun up for her beverage fix.
Her poofy satin bodice gave little peeks at cleavage, as she darted in and out of the refrigerator, putting armfuls of plastic-bottled teas and aloe blends into a red and yellow shopping bag. “Amoeba Records“, the stretched-out bag advertised in English – it could only hold a few more before bursting.
I was on the other side of the glass doors, stocking various flavors of Natchan soft drinks that the manager of the convenience store always over-ordered. I had kept one-and-a-half eyes on her ever since she started filling her bag, and not just because of her impending thievery. She was a bit too cute, looking like she just stepped out of a dressing room, showing off the most expensive outfit in the boutique to her jealous friends.
She was wearing a wig made out of straight, transparent fibers like fishing line, and she kept flipping aside the long bangs with her left hand, in between bottle selection – she was taking the extra time to read each label of what she was about to steal.
“Irrashaimase!” That was Himiko, on auto-pilot as she sleepily leaned against the counter, fussing with her red and white Circle X visor. Her chin-length, jet black hair just wasn’t behaving, as usual.
She was sing-whispering “First” by 4Minute to herself, even though there was no music to be heard in the store. “Call me up, boy… Call me up, boy” – she’s obsessed with Hyun-a and K-pop in general. I’m more of a 2NE1 girl, but Seoul is good for the soul no matter how you slice it.
Himiko always started to lose it past 2 AM, and counted on me to poke her every so often before she completely dozed off in front of the cameras trained at the cash register.
Himiko was greeting another customer, a teenaged girl who rolled in past the sliding front door with a pink suitcase. She was wearing a sports jersey, short sleeved with big, vertical, red and white stripes, intersected by a black and white T-Mobile logo on the front. On the back, in white capital letters: BAYERN MÜNCHEN. (I had to look up the right spelling later – it’s from some German soccer team that EurythmyGirl is bound to know).
Her pants were made out of a weird, shiny fabric that was so iridescent that they seemed to put off their own, dull light, like a full moon behind thin clouds. Almost bald, with stubble accentuating her overall air of don’t-give-a-fuck, she walked right past the magazines, snack chips and onigiri, and took a spot immediately next to the first girl. Whispered in her left ear, and then grinned at me past the bottles. At that moment I realized that they weren’t just partners in crime – they were identical twins.
The bald girl then let her suitcase fall to the faux-wood floor with a thud, and quickly unzipped it. It was empty, but not for long as her sister started to stuff even more bottles into it. While she did, the bald one carefully took the plastic wig off of her sister, and put it on over the stubble, straightening it in the faint reflection of the refrigerator doors. Then she gave me another smirk, as the fake hair started to glow in a cascading rainbow, like neon soba noodles.
As the assistant manager, I felt like I had to at least say something to them, but before I could clear my throat, the girl in the party dress reached through the refrigerator, pushed aside the last bottle remaining on that shelf, and pointed at me with a neatly manicured pink nail, decked out with a glittery tip.
“We know the way out,” she said in a tone that could scold a dog. “We’ll take you there when you’re ready.”
Before I could even think of responding, I suddenly had a sharp headache, right in the middle of my brow. My eyes teared up while they zipped the suitcase together, and I could hear them roll it with purpose towards the front door.
Only about two minutes had passed since she first opened the refrigerator, and by the time I ran out the stock room door, they had already disappeared into the chilly night.
“Tokie, what just happened?” Himiko yawned in Japanese. “Did you see her hair?”
I shrugged my shoulders as I went behind the counter, poking her firmly on the right shoulder. “It’s too late for questions.” Also in Japanese – I wasn’t supposed to speak English at work. “The boss is going to murder us for watching all those bottles just walk out the front door.”
“Don’t worry – I’m sure it’s all on tape,” she mumbled, pointing in a random direction upwards. “I’m sure he’ll let us know exactly where we went wrong.”
Himiko had a theory that our boss took the DVR video files home each night, and carefully obsessed over her fairly attractive presence at the front counter. I wouldn’t put it past him, since she was cute enough to mess with whenever I got the chance. Not that my feelings were a big secret – even though she’s not into girls, she didn’t resist my low-key flirtation, and even gossiped about the customers she thought I’d like to like. “So, which one did you prefer?”
“Identical twins aren’t my type. You fall for one, but you can never be certain if you’re actually supposed to like the other one more. Besides…” I poked her again in the shoulder. “I never have any luck with foreign girls.”
“You’re telling me!” She smiled as she started walking over to the stock room door. “Watch for me while I take a little nap?”
I nodded as she snuck in the back – she had a favorite spot in one of the few corners that the cameras couldn’t reach, over by the staff toilet. We’ll, I guess it’s not a secret any more – sorry about that. Assistant manager guilt trip – if I have to care about anything, it might as well be sleeping on the job.
I couldn’t stop thinking about the shoplifters, about what she said to me, and the more I did, the more my headache returned. It felt just like when I log into a GhostClient a few hours too long, and my eyes start to throb from the fixed focus and forgotten blinks. Satomi has been trying for months to minimize the pain, before too many Fan Ghosts start to complain, but it’s never something that lasts too long after I log off.
But last night at the Circle X – last night the pain was ridiculous, and what was worse was that I started to get this horrible feeling of deja vu. It felt like everything in the store, from the little flecks of dust I had to sweep up, to the shadowy space behind the mirrors in every ceiling corner, was ultra-familiar and super-significant, yet I couldn’t remember why.
It was during that strange episode of pain and fake remembrance that the second weird thing happened.
I didn’t hear the doors slide open, nor the chime from shuffling feet, but suddenly there was another customer standing in front of the counter, staring at me as I rubbed my forehead.
“Trust me, I know the feeling.” She said that in English, but I couldn’t place the accent.
When I looked up at her I couldn’t decide what I liked more – the fact that she was at least six feet tall, or her long, blond hair that was covering the shoulders of her busted up black leather jacket.
“Sorry about that.” I brushed back my short bangs with an instinctual, flirtatious flip. “Can I help you?”
The horrible feeling of deja vu only intensified as she screwed up her nose for a moment, with one of those little kid frowns that you don’t expect to see from a punk. Under her jacket I could see a faded, blue T-Shirt, but I couldn’t place the white, silk-screened logo. Maybe a stapler?
“I should be asking you the same thing. Do you recognize me yet?” Something about her starkly beautiful blue eyes, peeking past thick black mascara and eyeliner, felt so familiar that I could barely catch my breath. “Don’t think too hard before you try to answer that. Let me help you out a bit.”
It was then I noticed she was carrying a metal box under her right arm. It was a dull silver lock box, like you would use to hold lemonade stand cash.
I don’t know why I thought of lemonade, but I did, as she placed on the counter, right next to the plastic dish where we were always supposed to put the change. There was a round-headed key already in the lock.
“I’ve been trying to give this to you for days.” Pause while she smiled past her dark, blood red lipstick. “You’re really hard to track down.”
Her voice was like a music box melody, one that was just on the tip of my tongue, ready to sing back.
I didn’t know how to say what I suddenly knew needed saying. I felt like I had to reach out and turn the key. Like I had already done it over and over again.
“Let me just leave this with you.” She patted the box with both hands, her black nails shining like dilated pupils. She had a bunch of silver rings on her left hand, and gold ones on her right. “I’m sorry I can’t stay longer, but I’ll catch up again with you soon enough.”
With that, she strode with purpose out of the sliding front doors, not looking back for an instant.
When Himiko came back out after her 10 minute nap, she found me at the front counter, just staring at the box. She begged me for details, but I just couldn’t play along anymore. It was just all too weird. Just contemplating what it might contain made me felt nauseous.
“Take it. Put it in the lost and found, bring it home, throw it away. I don’t care.” My head was killing me. “Just get it away from me. Just don’t you dare tell me what’s inside.”
Himiko looked at me like I was crazy, but didn’t need any more prodding to take the box, and run out from behind the counter.
“Don’t worry, I’ll drop it off at the police station.” It was only a few blocks away, right around the corner from the hotel. “I’ll be right back, and then you can tell me all about her. Crazy!”
Himiko grabbed her gray wool coat, the one I always teased her about, and jogged outside with the box.
That punk girl’s box.
I still don’t know her.
Let me tell you all about her.
I can’t forget her eyes, even hours after she left.
I can’t forget the cosplaying shoplifters, and the box, and the look on their faces as they kept smiling at me. Like they knew me forever. Like they were just waiting for me to smile back.
I’m telling you, this is why I totally hate the night shift. What did I say? Post-party drunken food scavengers, pasty-faced night owls, and foreign girls so cute they give you a headache just to look at, like staring too long into the sunrise.
Please forgive my meandering, head-throbbing first post. I can’t even remember what else I wanted to say. No one said Operation Bloggyblog was going to be easy.
Whatever. I promised MirrorPlay that I’d visit her in Portland once I got home, and I’ve already got my eyephones on, just itching to log in. She just can’t stand it when I’m late, and neither can I.
Talk to you all again soon.