The package

The package is standing close to the main door of our building. It’s of some kind of white cardboard, more or less square, of around two meters of height and half a meter width. It could, indeed, contain a coffin. It’s filled with stickers and stamps, like if it has been travelling for awhile, bumping from country to country before arriving to us. The only thing readable of the addressee is our street, written in capital big, black, letters. Like if written in hurry. I try to read the name above it. Timecap, Thomass, Thimion…no way.

“Is that your package?” I look back to find our new neighbour staring at both the object and me. He’s very thin and tall and like to dress in shinny green colours. Or at least, the couple of time I meet him, he was dressed that way. Because of that, from far away, you could think he’s an insect of some kind. A giant one. He’s wearing, as usual, his round black sunglasses. I try to remember if I saw his eyes so far. No, I didn’t. “Mysterious, isn’t? Do you know when was delivered?”

“No, I don’t. I was just trying to read the name on the address. I don’t know any Thomas on our building. Are you a Thomas by chance?”  I try to smile while saying it, but he doesn’t react. His face is expressionless, like a mask. In fact, even his voice seems to come from somewhere other than his mouth.

“I’m afraid I’m not. I’m just thinking it can’t stay on our door for a long time. Do you mind if I take it and have a look in my place? I just moved in, so to say, and I have plenty of  space in my Wohnung.” I don’t know what to say. I look at the parcel. Closed packages are always intriguing, more if they are definitely not for you, more if they have a funny shape. I’m tempted to claim it myself. But it’s not my style.

“Sure. Please take it. Probably it is the right thing to do. We just need to leave a post-it or something on the building board, close to the mailboxes, saying that you have it. Do you want me to do that for you? After all, I’m the one closer to the door.” My neighbour doesn’t get closer to the entrance in the meantime. But finally he comes downstairs, although he doesn’t position himself close to me but to the thing. I smell to wet grass for a moment. He has indeed a powerful scent.

“Yes please, that will be great. Thank you very much. My flat is the 3rd floor, left door. I will pick it up soon. Please do not hesitate to pass by if you have news about the owner.” I don’t know if I want to visit him. Of course I don’t say that. I mumble something to him and I open the door of my flat without looking back.

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Londontown

I was not expecting something spectacular, but this was simply disappointing. After one or two turns from Piccadilly circus, we crossed a gate and arrived to a place that was very similar to the rest of the urban London…except that nothing was written in English. No pagodas, no maneki-nekos, no pandas. Just everything in Chinese instead of English.

– So we are here? – I stop to look at some wall posters over what looks like the wall of a closed business. A shop, maybe. Pictures of people, with Chinese text, and some numbers. – What are those saying? – My guide is not Chinese, but she is supposed to have learned the language at the school to the level of reading it. I have no clue of anything.

– They are looking for brides. – I smile, and look at the grey faces on the sepia-coloured paper. Some are looking like old men, but everyone needs love, right? – Are you interested maybe on adding your advertisement to this wall? – She’s playing the dumb Asian girl, she does it very well, but I hate it. I turn my head and start pouting. She realizes I’m upset and grab me by the waist. – Don’t be angry on me! Let’s go to find a place to eat. Any preference? – I don’t understand anything I see but I’m not going to say so.

– How about Chinese food? – She laughs her noisy, clearly sarcastic laugh, the one that let me see her silver teeth. I’m sometimes sorry immediately after speaking. – For example. After all, we took a cappuccino on Little Italy, right?

– Good choice, my lord. – She uses the exaggerated Oxford accent that I know she can use, instead of her usual american. She grabs my arm and we walk quickly through. – How about here? – We stop in front of what it looks like a glass showcase with a wooden door. Yes, there are tables inside, with people sitting, not a lot, and the smell of soup is overwhelming. I do not manage to see what the people are doing, the local is quite dark, I must say.

– After you. – I wave like if she is a princess. She goes in, not before smiling me, and I follow here to a featureless table. Over it, a white tablecloth that obviously has seen better days, the typical bottles with asian sources, two very small glasses, and chopsticks. I’ve been in chinese restaurants before, so at least I will not be forced to ask for a fork. A waiter comes, a few minutes after we finish examining the table, and he gives us two menus. I open mine. All is in Chinese, no pictures. I look at her. She smiles to me.

– What were you expecting? – I keep looking for something I can read. There it is. The prices! – When in Rome…

– Do as the romans, of course. Will you be so kind to order for me? – I hesitate. – Or, at least, can you explain me a little?

– Of course I can. – She has a quick look on the menu.-  Let’s first decide what you want to eat. Meat? Fish? Soup? Two dishes? One? – I shrug my shoulders. – I’m going to go for a soup, some rolls, and maybe a dessert. The chinese character for soup is 湯. Doesn’t it look like a pot over fire? Then the one for meat is 肉, that looks a little like an open animal. The one for fish is not so obvious, 魚. You can try to remember it as an octopus, with all the legs under. – I nod. The Chinese waiter comes, she says something in Chinese, I smile, he leaves. – Good. How about you point to something on the menu you like how it is written, and I tell you what it is?

– I’m in! – I scan the menu, and we order dumplings, Chinese rolls, some soup, some tea, and a very soft chinese beer. Close to us, now an American family sat down. At one point, they start shouting. “Where is the English menu? I want to see the manager! We are in London, for God’s sake!” We try to hide, fortunately, we don’t speak English neither. The food, all of it, is delicious, and nothing comparable to anything I tried before on a so-called Chinese restaurant. A lifetime experience.

Chatting about the next holidays

– Did you decide then where to go this year?
– No I don’t. My AI is still computing prices. And you?
– Me and my family are going to Fantasialand. You should join us!
– Fantasialand? I don’t know if we can afford it. How will you?
– Easy: we joined an ad program. You know, one of these where you give the rights about your holiday memories. Our AI recommended us. Apparently we match some kind of common profile.
– Lucky you. We don’t, for sure. We are more on the consumer side. My big son, you know, the one you met, is really burning my credit onto VR stuff. I keep telling him to be more conservative, but no way. He’s a VR junkie!
– You should be careful with that thing. Although I heard if you are good enough, you can make money out of it.
– This is what he says to me. “I can’t go on holidays, papa, I need to be online or I will lose my followers!: 😦
– I know what you mean. My children, on the other hand…
– Don’t tell me about it. If I finally don’t manage to go anywhere, we will rent your holiday memories. If you let me do it, of course.
– Of course I will. I will be more than happy to send you a guest pass!
– Do it please. Sometimes I think my family is so complicated than the AI will leave us and raise a black flag about.
– Don’t be so dramatic. So see you then!
– See you then! It was nice to chat with you!

Just a perfect day

I’m not a fan of Bob Dylan. I do know some of his songs, specially “Perfect Day” due to Trainspotting. The movie kind of marked me in some way, since I was around Scotland at the moment of its release. So what’s a perfect day? I’m gonna share it with you.

After the morning coffee I quickly head out with my little son. The sun is shining, but it’s not hot. We take our bikes to check the new bike road, still unfinished, and we ride until the next village, four kilometers away. There we get lost on their streets, if something like that is possible, and end up finding an old church and some interesting houses before, as planned, reaching the green domes of the natural gas factory, a milestone on the way back home. I chat with him during the whole trip, about what he will do when he’s old, about the country, about what kind of car he will buy, what is to buy and what is to rent, and another hundred things. My son learned biking literally a couple of months ago, and he’s good, but he is not yet aware of how much he can bike. So an encouragement is needed, just a little, and I find it on a closeby italian ice cream shop, a Gelateria Italiana, where he takes a Nutella ice cone and I take a small beer. And it’s getting hot.

The last five hundred meters are not at all complicated after that break. The plan we agreed was, at home, to move out to our terrace the brand new electric grill and grill some things: chicken filets, chorizo, bacon, asparagus, sweet potatoes…mama and his brother will join. And that we do. And everything is fine, and delicious. In  the meantime, it’s getting hotter, and I’m getting sleepy after the last beer. What now? Mama propose to lay on the grass, just outside the building, just outside the terrace. I will stay on the balcony, reading, acting as a connection with the inside. Both brothers happily join, and they bring books and toys. A lovely picnic after the barbecue.

The day is anyway very long, and there’s nothing else to do, so after the siesta we all take our bikes and ride on the opposite direction I biked in the morning. There are parks after parks, and the light is having the komorebi quality most of the time. But where do we go now? How about having dinner in that restaurant close to where mama was living when she was single? Yes, the restaurant that changed the name. How was it called before? It doesn’t matter, what matters is that is far enough, and we will be hungry when we arrive. There is a risk: the risk that the place is full. Today is a first of May, after all, and it’s a holiday and it’s in the middle of a working week. But it’s OK, we are lucky and the food is exquisite. Also the conversation. We speak about that time in Milano where we ate in a restaurant where the lemoncello was literally for free… and I ate that very delicious dish, spaghetti with ricci di mare. A place to come back. Ten years ago. I can’t believe nothing is going wrong today. Or is it me only?

I wrote it down because I almost took no pictures today, and I somehow wanted to remember it. Just a perfect day.

Financial Statements (IV)

(This is a continuation of Financial Statements I ,  here part II and here part III)

How could this have happened? How a guy like this Mr.Times has managed to reach his secretary, circumventing all his security? There were two possible explanations only: he was smuggled on his floor or everything he was saying is true. He examined once more the figure. He was indeed looking like the real thing. If only…

– ¿Never thought of having a peek at the future of mankind? What we do, how we work? Or how about for a temporary twins chronological safari? As a premium partner, I can organize for you a private visit the 7 Wonders of the World … when they were built. I offer eternity, Hiroshi san. Discover for yourself the mysteries of History that have been hidden for millennia, Atlantis, Mu, ancient aliens. Or step on another planet without a spacesuit if you like. Is it not tantalizing enough?

Hiroshi decided to leave his shelter after the desk and went closer to the man. As close as to look into his eyes from centimeters away. Mr. Times didn’t look intimidated, unfortunately, but at least, he was silent.

– If I were sure that you offer something authentic and nothing dangerous, I could accept. But there is something that doesn’t match in your business plan. You say that I will get paid in precious metals, gold, for example. Well, what happens to that metal in my … continuum? I can think now about a possible deal with the Incas. If they pay me with a piece of gold that is destined to be melted onto the Crown of Gales, will that mean that the crown will cease to exist? If not, what’s stopping me from stealing the same metal on two different days? Or three? Or four?

The Japanese was still close enough as to grab the neck of his visitor. Then the Englishman began to turn pale. His clothes shimmered and his hair color changed on a blink of an eye from blond to brown. Like by flipping a switch. Maybe it was a switch. More special effects? Camouflage? He decided to play hard.

– I think things are very, very bad, there in your future. And the worst is that you do not realize that you are destroying it yourself! The fourth dimension has not been made ​​for travel and trade on it! If I could travel in time, I would now be going to kill my father. And here I am! – His visitor was fading before his eyes. Literally becoming transparent. – And you, Mr. Times, you can not do anything about it because your visit did not change my past but your future. We Japanese are familiar with the change. We accept it. We care it. But nothing can change the past! I know the pyramids. I know they exist. If they were built with our tools, the tools that I don’t sell you now, we have a paradox. If we deny, if I deny that we helped the pharaohs, I’m sure they’ll find another way to build them. Maybe not in so short time, not so little cost on lives, but they will. And what the consequences will be here? A set of burnt papers in the Great Library, or perhaps less.

The young Hindu dressed with a fancy tuxedo, that was the Englishman before, froze. Hiroshi ignored the changes. Another trick of his enemies. Suddenly the young reacted.

– The China wall. What use they had for a structure that can be seen from the moon? 

– Ego, of course. You, time traveller, have you ever met the great dictators of the past, Hitler, Napoleon, Mussolini, Franco? They all changed in a way the face of the earth, overthrowing natural and cultural boundaries. Even the most recent ones tried to leave their imprint over the surface of our planet. They do not skimp on expenses and power. I think you underestimated the irrationality, the violence of the past history. The mixture of cultures has made ​​you forget the real reasons for a fight nowadays! Maybe after you’re gone I will be convinced that time travel is possible. But I would also be sure that they are not safe, and they should not be used to trade. My time, Mr. Times, is something I have affection, something I value, and I do not want, I will not want, to outsource to an external partner! Do not waste my time! – Hiroshi hit the desk. The sound reverberated in the room like a muzzled gong.

The man known as Howard Times became at this moment translucent. Hiroshi walked around, fascinated by his current bidimensionality. From a side, we has not visible: just a line over the field of view.

 

Financial Statements (I)

Hiroshi Kena was in no mood for visitors, today after the news of the sudden drop of 15% io the market price of his shares. He watched apathetically the business card that his henchman brought on a silver tray. In the simple but unusual recycled plastic sheet it was possible to read, in western characters of an intense black brand the following:

        HOWARD M. TIMES

        Deputy Executive Director CST

        546-HOUR-nc 42325

– Shall I let him in, sensei? 

– Let him pass. My day can only get better.

The man who came through the automatic doors of the giant office (for Tokyo) decorated in Zen style unmatched so much that over the scene he looked like a hologram. Dressed in a dark gray flannel suit, white shirt and black bow tie, his hands were holding a typical English bowler hat and umbrella, European style, from around two centuries ago. The scarce morning light coming through the glass wall behind the dark methacrylate table was not contributing to eliminate the anachronism.

–  A bad day today. Cloudly. – He said. The man that should be named Howard just managed to bow briefly, without releasing the umbrella not the bowler hat, bow that was formally returned by him.

– OHayo gozaimasu, Hiroshi san. – The englishman looked around with apparent admiration, without advancing a single step forward or backwards.

– Good morning… Mr. Times. What brings you to Kinzoku Tech? – This man has appeared without appointment, buddha knows how, magically unfiltered by his security team. 

– Business, of course. – Mr. Times seems to doubt if to get closer for a moment, then he continues. – You have a great office, Mr. Kena. One of the most impressive ones I’ve ever seen in my long career as a salesman.

Hiroshi relaxed a little after the compliment, and he noticed the large number of protocol errors himself had committed, which were not neglected by Mr. Times. Even as a gaijin, he had greeted him in Japanese, and he was still standing still right where he arrived, motionless, waiting his offer for a seat.

– Thank you Mr. Times. Please have a seat. Forgive my bluntness, but this day has not started just good for me. Please save yourself the protocol. Allow me to ask you to call me Hiroshi, if you don’t mind. Do you want something to drink? Tea? Coffee? Brandy? Sake?

– I’ll take sake. – Said the man in gray. Hiroshi moved slowly to his bar and took the porcelain pot he was saving for important business. It was a little bit early for him to start drinking, but he poured anyway two cups of the warm liquid. Without a word, even without looking at him, he gave one cup to the man and went to contemplated the nearby skyscrapers from behind his desk. How many times already he had thought of jumping through this very glass. Too many. He was very aware his business was right now supported by West sales. Despite of having frequent deals with american salary men, he was simply not comfortable with the way the gaijin move in general. Too little care, too little respect. He didn’t like even how they smell, with all that expensive perfumes. This man, however, was different.  

Silence. Patience is a Japanese virtue that Hiroshi lacked, and this fact seemed to be known by his guest. Curious about the strange circumstances and the odd individual, the eastern reformulated the first question still watching the city. Still giving him his back.

– So, what brings you here Kinzoku Tech, Howard? – he repeated.

– Business, as I said. I was commanded to come by the Management when they believed it was the right time. That happen to be now, today, with your drowning sales.

Mr. Kena turned abruptly. The news of the declining financial state of his company were all public domain, but it was simply not according to business protocol to point it up so directly. He smiled. Apparently his luck had changed again. The months of recession had ended and his entrepreneurial intuition that had brought him so high was right now smelling a new multi-million dollar contract.

– Alright. You triggered my interest. Tell me, Howard. – He was using his name and a relatively aggressive phrasing as a form of control, to keep him below his level. – What company is yours, this …CTT? I’m sorry to say it is the first time I hear about it. What has to do CTT to improve my sales?

– The CTT, transtemporal Transport Company, is known only by a select group of individuals scattered throughout the history of our mankind, Mr. Kena. – Hiroshi opened his eyes real wide, and looked with astonishment to his interlocutor. Maybe the sake was spiced, without his knowledge, with hallucinogen drugs? – Don’t be surprised. You didn’t hear so far of  none of us because our sphere of influence covers except exceptions from the year 4,000 AD to the year 15,000 AD. –

Hiroshi drunk the rest of his sake in a single gulp, and went for the bottle. 

Unfinished lines

Due to the nature of my ideas I’m not really good on finishing my stories. They come from my dreams, which means they are blurry and most of the time unfinished. I decided to write here some summaries of the ones I’d like to finish, with a link to the first chapter. It’s not only for you, but also to remind me that, at one point, I have a lot of lines to work on. So here you have them, not on a special order. Consider it a repost 😉

  • Coinreruf. Welcome to the origin of mankind. It’s a wild time, and the values as we know them remain yet to be written. The Kingdom of Pecunia sent hist best man to find a special girl that has in her hands a secret able to change the future of all. Are they going to be brave enough as to reveal it? Or are they going to fail on shaping the civilization so that it doesn’t pass down the current black days?
  • The Water Wedding. In the future, Utopia is a forgotten concept. The known Earth is divided into two blocks, the System and the Empire. Hakim is a privileged server of the Emperor and has been invited by him to the biggest event known on the Lands, one of a lifetime, the Water Wedding. Welcome to a wild road trip that will bring him and his lover to Fountain City and …to find themselves.
  • Star Hotel 2050. Your work is really appreciated. To the point that you are invited to visit the result of if, on space. The Star Hotel is the most ambitious project a private company has built so far, but you don’t want to go there alone. You bring your family to shelter you. Because who’s better than your family to find out what’s wrong on leaving Earth, and all its commodities, to move to another planet? Or is it that your family is really as particular as it looks like for you?
  • Brondignach. Humans are being brought here, to this land, by an unknown force. But this land is already inhabited. And the natives, although humans, are enormous, and don’t seem to see humans as little people. They chase them, the play with them, they use them as toys. Communication, even written, seem to be impossible. Follow one of the visitors of Brondignach on his search of the Paradise, the human land, away from the giants. A search that is also a path of discoveries.
  • The Yellow Earth. The Fall took mankind by surprise. Nobody knows what it is, nobody knows where they are now. There are theories, of course, but most of the people just keep on going, without caring about the ancient ruins mixed up with the city, without asking themselves about the green moon now floating over. Anyway, people keep coming, and the news about what happened back on Earth are not encouraging anybody to come back.

There are more. I’m very messy, I’m sorry. One day I’ll make order. I need to. And you will hear about it. Thanks for being there!