Fear and Loathing in Gensokyo

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Fear and Loathing in Gensokyo

Postby Reimu Hakurei » 05 Jun 2013 05:36

Warning, excessive profanity, sexual references and drug use follow herein. Consult your local Moon Doctor before ingesting.


FEAR AND LOATHING IN GENSOKYO
by Marisa Kirasame and Suika Ibuki

With profound apologies to Hunter S. Thompson

We were somewhere around Osaka on the edge of the Forest of Magic when the drugs began to take hold. I remember saying something like “I feel a bit lightheaded; maybe you should drive…” And suddenly there was a terrible roar all around us and the sky was full of what looked like huge yukkuri, all swooping and screeching and diving around the car, which was going about a hundred miles an hour with the top down to Gensokyo. And a voice was screaming: “Holy Byakuren! What are these goddamn animals?” Then it was quiet again. My attorney had taken her ribbons off and was pouring Asahi beer on her horns, to facilitate the tanning process. “What the hell are you yelling about?” she muttered, staring up at the sun with her eyes closed and covered with wraparound Tengu sunglasses. “Never mind,” I said. “It’s your turn to drive.” I hit the brakes and aimed the Kappamobile toward the shoulder of the highway. No point mentioning those buns, I thought. The poor bitch will see them soon enough.

It was almost noon, and we still had more than a hundred miles to go. They would be tough miles. Very soon, I knew, we would both be completely twisted. But there was no going back, and no time to rest. We would have to ride it out. Press-registration for the fabulous Queen of Iron Spellcard Tournament was already underway, and we had to get there by four to claim our sound-proof suite. A fashionable danmaku-magazine in Tokyo had taken care of the reservations, along with this compact red Kappa convertible we’d just rented off a lot at Youkai Mountain… and I was, after all, an ordinary Magician; so I had an obligation to cover the story, for good or ill.

The magic editors had also given me ¥30,000 in cash, most of which was already spent on extremely dangerous reagents. The trunk of the car looked like a mobile Shrine Maiden narcotics lab. We had two bags of mushrooms, seventy-five pellets of Nightshade, five sheets of high-powered spider silk, a salt shaker half full of garlic, and a whole galaxy of laser spells, conjurations, evocations, illusions and thaumaturgy, and also a quart of Sake, a quart of Shōchū, a case of Asahi, a pint of raw blood moss and two dozen black pearls. All this had been rounded up the night before, in a frenzy of high speed driving all over Tokyo– from Shinjuku to Akihabara , we picked up everything we could get our hands on. Not that we needed all that for the trip, but once you get locked into a serious reagent-collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can.

The only thing that really worried me was the blood moss. There is nothing in the world more helpless and irresponsible and depraved than a magician in the depths of a blood moss binge. And I knew we’d get into that rotten stuff pretty soon. Probably at the next gas station. We had sampled almost everything else, and now – yes, it was time for a long snort of blood moss. And then do the next hundred miles in a horrible, slobbering sort of spastic stupor. The only way to keep alert on blood moss is to do up a lot of black pearls – not all at once, but steadily, just enough to maintain the focus at ninety miles an hour through Osaka.

“Man, this is the way to travel,” said my attorney. She leaned over to turn the volume up on the radio, humming along with the rhythm section and kind of moaning the words: “Nagareteku toki no naka de demo, kedarusa ga hora guruguru mawatte..." Languid? Spinning? You poor fool! Wait till you see those goddamn buns. I could barely hear the radio… slumped over on the far side of the seat, grappling with a tape recorder turned all the way up on “Septette for the Dead Princess.” That was the only tape we had, so we played it constantly, over and over, as a kind of demented counterpoint to the radio. And also to maintain our rhythm on the road. A constant speed is good for gas mileage – and for some reason that seemed important at the time. Indeed. On a trip like this one must be careful about gas consumption. Avoid those quick bursts of acceleration that drag blood to the back of the brain.
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Re: Fear and Loathing in Gensokyo

Postby Reimu Hakurei » 05 Jun 2013 06:00

My attorney saw the hitchhiker long before I did. “Let’s give this loli a lift,” she said, and before I could mount any argument she was stopped and this poor fairy kid was flying up to the car with a big grin on her face, saying, “Hot damn! I never rode in a convertible before!” “Is that right?” I said. “Well, I guess you’re about ready, eh?” The ice-fairy nodded eagerly as we roared off. “We’re your friends,” said my attorney. “We’re not like the others.” O Byakuren, I thought, she’s gone around the bend. “No more of that talk,” I said sharply. “Or I’ll put the fuckin' leeches on you.” She grinned, seeming to understand. Luckily, the noise in the car was so awful – between the wind and the radio and the tape machine – that the loli in the back seat couldn't hear a word we were saying. Or could she?

How long can we maintain? I wondered. How long before one of us starts raving and jabbering at this ice fairy? What will she think then? This same lonely forest was the last known home of the Scarlet Devil family. Will she make that grim connection when my attorney starts screaming about buns and huge Onbashira coming down on the car? If so – well, we’ll just have to cut her head off and bury her somewhere. Because it goes without saying that we can’t turn her loose. She’ll report us at once to some kind of outback nazi Shrine Maiden agency, and they’ll run us down like dogs.

Byakuren! Did I say that? Or just think it? Was I talking? Did they hear me? I glanced over at my attorney, but she seemed oblivious – watching the road, driving our Kappamobile along at a hundred and ten or so. There was no sound from the back seat. Maybe I’d better have a chat with this loli, I thought. Perhaps if I explain things, she’ll rest easy. Of course. I leaned around in the seat and gave her a fine big smile… admiring the shape of her skull. “By the way,” I said. “There’s one thing you should probably understand.” She stared at me, not blinking. Was she gritting her teeth?

“Can you hear me?” I yelled.

She nodded.

“That’s good,” I said. “Because I want you to know that we’re on our way to Gensokyo to find the Magical Girl's Dream.” I smiled. “That’s why we rented this car. It was the only way to do it. Can you grasp that?” She nodded again, but her eyes were nervous. “I want you to have all the background,” I said. “Because this is a very ominous assignment – with overtones of extreme personal danger… Hell, I forgot all about this beer; you want one?” She shook her head.

“How about some blood moss?” I said.

“What?”

“Never mind. Let’s get right to the heart of this thing. You see, about twenty-four hours ago we were sitting in the Yukkuri Shiteitte Ne! Lounge of the Minoriko Hotel – in the patio section, of course – and we were just sitting there under a palm tree when this uniformed Kappa came up to me with a pink telephone and said, ‘This must be the call you've been waiting for all this time, miss.’” I laughed and ripped open a beer can that foamed all over the back seat while I kept talking. “And you know? She was right! I’d been expecting that call, but I didn't know who it would come from. Do you follow me?” The loli's face was a mask of pure fear and bewilderment. I blundered on: “I want you to understand that this Oni at the wheel is my attorney! She’s not just some dingbat I found in Misty Lake. Shit, look at her! She doesn't look like you or me, right? That’s because she’s a foreigner. I think she’s probably Korean. But it doesn't matter, does it? Are you prejudiced?”

“Oh, hell no!” she blurted.

“I didn't think so,” I said. “Because in spite of her race, this youkai is extremely valuable to me.” I glanced over at my attorney, but her mind was somewhere else. I whacked the back of the driver’s seat with my fist. “This is important, goddamn it! This is a true story!” The car swerved sickeningly, then straightened out. “Keep your hands off my fucking neck!” my attorney screamed. The fairy in the back looked like she was ready to jump right out of the car and take her chances. Our vibrations were getting nasty – but why? I was puzzled, frustrated. Was there no communication in this car? Had we deteriorated to the level of dumb beasts?
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Re: Fear and Loathing in Gensokyo

Postby Reimu Hakurei » 07 Jun 2013 05:57

Because my story was true. I was certain of that. And it was extremely important, I felt, for the meaning of our journey to be made absolutely clear. We had actually been sitting there in the lounge – for many hours – drinking cherry flavored sake with spider silk on the side and beer chasers. And when the call came, I was ready. The Kappa approached our table cautiously, as I recall, and when she handed me the pink telephone I said nothing, merely listened. And then I hung up, turning to face my attorney. “That was headquarters,” I said. “They want me to go to Gensokyo at once, and make contact with a Tengu photographer named Aya Shameimaru. She’ll have the details. All I have to do is check into my suite and she’ll seek me out.”

My attorney said nothing for a moment, then she suddenly came alive in her chair. “God hell!” she exclaimed. “I think I see the pattern. This one sounds like real trouble!” She tucked her white undershirt into her purple skirt and called for more drink. “You’re going to need plenty of legal advice before this thing is over,” she said. “And my first advice is that you should rent a very fast car with no top and get the hell out of Tokyo for at least forty-eight hours.” She shook her head sadly. “This blows my weekend, because naturally I’ll have to go with you – and we’ll have to arm ourselves.” “Why not?” I said. “If a thing like this is worth doing at all, it’s worth doing right. We’ll need some decent equipment and plenty of cash on the line – if only for drugs and a supersensitive tape recorder, for the sake of a permanent record.”

“What kind of a story is this?” she asked.

“The Queen of Iron Spellcard Tournament,” I said. “It’s the richest spell and bullet-hell gathering in the history of organized sport – a fantastic spectacle in honor of some purple bean sprout named Patchouli, who owns the luxurious Voile Hotel in the heart of downtown Gensokyo… at least that’s what the press release says; my girl in Kyoto just read it to me.”

“Well,” she said, “as your attorney I advise you to buy a broom. How else can you cover a thing like this righteously?”

“No way,” I said. “Where can we get hold of a Kawasaki 3600?”

“What’s that?”

“A fantastic broom,” I said. “The new model is something like two thousand cubic inches, developing two hundred brake-horsepower at four thousand revolutions per minute on a magnesium frame with two Styrofoam seats and a total curb weight of exactly two hundred pounds.”

“That sounds about right for this gig,” she said.

“It is” I assured her. “The fucker’s not much for turning, but it’s pure hell on the straightaway. It’ll outrun the Mitsubishi F-2 until takeoff.”

“Takeoff?” she said. “Can we handle that much torque?”

“Absolutely,” I said. “I’ll call Kyoto for some cash.”
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Re: Fear and Loathing in Gensokyo

Postby Reimu Hakurei » 10 Jun 2013 18:57

The Kyoto office was not familiar with the Kawasaki 3600: they referred me to the Osaka bureau, but when I got there, the money-changer refused to give me more than ¥3000 in cash. She had no idea who I was, she said, and by that time I was pouring sweat. My blood is too thick for the Kansai region: I have never been able to properly explain myself in this climate. Not with the soaking sweats… wild red eyeballs and trembling hands.

So I took the ¥3000 and left. My attorney was waiting in a bar around the corner. “This won’t make the nut,” she said, “unless we have unlimited credit.” I assured her we would. “You Koreans are all the same,” I told her. “You have no faith in the essential decency of the Japanese woman's culture. Byakuren, just one hour ago we were sitting over there on that stinking patio, stone broke and paralyzed for the weekend, when a call comes through from some total stranger in Tokyo, telling me to go to Gensokyo and expenses be damned – and then she sends me over to some office in Kyoto where another total stranger gives me ¥3000 raw cash for no reason at all… I tell you, my friend, this is the Magical Girl Dream in action! We’d be fools not to ride this strange bomb all the way out to the end.”

“Indeed,” she said. “We must do it.”

“Right,” I said. “But first we need the car. And after that, the black pearls. And then the tape recorder, for special music, and some striped bloomers.” The only way to prepare for a trip like this, I felt, was to dress up like human peacocks and get crazy, then screech off across the country and cover the story. Never lose sight of the primary responsibility. But what was the story? Nobody had bothered to say. So we would have to drum it up on our own. Reckless Magic. The Magical Girl Dream. Madoka Kaname gone mad on drugs in Gensokyo. Do it now: pure Gonzo journalism.

There was also the socio-psychic factor. Every now and then when your life gets complicated and the F.O.E.'s start closing in, the only real cure is to load up on heinous reagents and then drive like a bastard from Osaka to Gensokyo. To relax, as it were, in the womb of the Youkai sun. Just roll the roof back and screw it on, grease the face with white tanning butter and move out with the music at top volume, and at least a pint of blood moss. Getting hold of the drugs had been no problem, but the car and the tape recorder were not easy things to round up at 6:30 on a Friday afternoon in Osaka. I already had one car, but it was far too small and slow for this sort of work. We went to a Mongolian bar, where my attorney made seventeen calls before locating a convertible with adequate kappapower and proper coloring.

“Hang onto it,” I heard her say into the phone. “We’ll be over to make the trade in thirty minutes.” Then after a pause, she began shouting: “What? Of course the witch has a major credit card! Do you realize who the fuck you’re talking to?” “Don’t take any guff from these swine,” I said as she slammed the phone down. “Now we need a sound store with the finest equipment. Nothing dinky. We want one of those new Taiwanese Heliowatts with a voice-activated shotgun mike, for picking up conversations in oncoming cars.”
We made several more calls and finally located our equipment in a store about five miles away. It was closed, but the salesman said she would wait, if we hurried. But we were delayed en route when a Honda in front of us killed a bus-load of fairies. The store was closed by the time we got there. There were youkai inside, but they refused to come to the double-glass door until we gave it a few belts and made ourselves clear.

Finally two Youkai brandishing tire irons came to the door and we managed to negotiate the sale through a tiny slit. Then they opened the door just wide enough to shove the equipment out, before slamming and locking it again. “Now take that stuff and get the hell away from here,” one of them shouted through the slit.

My attorney shook her fist at them, wrist chains rattling loudly. “We’ll be back,” she yelled. “One of these days I’ll toss a fucking bomb into this place! I have your stage number on this sales slip! I’ll look up your patterns on Nico Nico Douga and burn your house down!”

“That’ll give her something to think about,” she muttered as we drove off. “That gal is a paranoid psychotic, anyway. They’re easy to spot.” We had trouble, again, at the car rental agency. After signing all the papers, I got in the car and almost lost control of it while backing across the lot to the gas pump. The rental-kappa was obviously shaken.

“Say there… uh… you gals are going to be careful with this car, aren’t you?”

“Of course.”

“Well, good god!” she said. “You just backed over that two-foot concrete abutment and you didn’t even slow down! Forty-five in reverse! And you barely missed the pump!”
“No harm done,” I said. “I always test a transmission that way. The rear end. For stress factors.” Meanwhile, my attorney was busy transferring sake and ice from the Toyota to the back seat of the convertible. The rental-kappa watched her nervously.

“Say,” she said. “Are you gals drinking?”

“Not me,” I said.

“Just fill the goddamn tank,” my attorney snapped. “We’re in a hell of a hurry. We’re on
our way to Gensokyo for a Spellcard Tournament.”

“What?”

“Never mind,” I said. “We’re responsible humans.” She looked dubiously at my attorney, while I watched her put the gas cap on, then I jammed the thing into low gear and we lurched into traffic.

“There’s another worrier,” said my attorney. “She’s probably all cranked up on spider silk.”

“Yeah, you should have given her some garlic.”

“Garlic wouldn’t help a stage 1 enemy like that,” he said. “To hell with her. We have a lot of business to take care of, before we can get on the road.”

“I’d like to get hold of some shrine maiden's robes,” I said. “They might come in handy in Gensokyo.” But there were no costume stores open, and we weren’t up to burglarizing a shrine.

“Why bother?” said my attorney. “And you have to remember that a lot of mikos are good vicious Shintoists. Can you imagine what those bastards would do to us if we got busted all drugged-up and drunk in stolen investments? Byakuren, they’d ship us!”

“You’re right,” I said. “And for Byakuren's sake don’t smoke that pipe at stoplights. Keep in mind that we’re exposed.” She nodded. “We need a big kiseru. Keep it down here on the seat, out of sight. If anybody sees us, they’ll think we’re using oxygen.” We spent the rest of that night rounding up materials and packing the car. Then we ate the black pearls and went swimming in the ocean. Somewhere around dawn we had breakfast in a Tokyo coffee shop, then drove very carefully across town and plunged onto the smog-shrouded freeway, heading West.
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Re: Fear and Loathing in Gensokyo

Postby Satori Komeiji » 11 Jun 2013 07:56

Surprised it's not Aya, but then again this is Raoul Duke and not Thompson so shroom-Marisa makes a surprising amount of sense.

...Marisa as Aya's alter-ego also makes a surprising amount of sense. Or maybe I'm just drunk and tired. Either works.

Oh, and this is fantastic by the way.
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Re: Fear and Loathing in Gensokyo

Postby Reimu Hakurei » 11 Jun 2013 08:30

I really, really wanted to make Aya work but she just isn't manic enough to be a good Raoul. That and equating Magic with Drugs makes it much easier/funnier to write. I also originally had Nitori as Dr. Gonzo but obviously Suika is much more suited to a drunken Samoan yes?

Also, thanks! Glad people seem to be enjoying it.
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Re: Fear and Loathing in Gensokyo

Postby Satori Komeiji » 12 Jun 2013 16:27

Reimu Hakurei wrote:I also originally had Nitori as Dr. Gonzo but obviously Suika is much more suited to a drunken Samoan yes?


Oh yeah, definitely. Not including Suika in a story rife with intoxically-influenced misdemeanor will just be throwing away the potentials.
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Re: Fear and Loathing in Gensokyo

Postby Reimu Hakurei » 01 Aug 2013 03:06

3. Strange Medicine In The Forest... A Crisis Of Confidence

I am still vaguely haunted by our hitchhiker’s remark about how she’d “never rode in a convertible before.” Here’s this poor one hit-point wonder living in a world of convertibles zipping past her on the highways all the time, and she’s never even ridden in one. It made me feel like Queen Elizabeth. I was tempted to have my attorney pull into the next airport and arrange some kind of simple, common-law contract whereby we could just give the car to this unfortunate fairy. Just say: “Here, sign this and the car’s yours.” Give her the keys and then use the credit card to zap off on a broom to some place like Honolulu and rent another huge fireapple-red convertible for a drug-addled, top-speed run across the water all the way out to the last stop in Oahu… and then trade the car off for a boat. Keep moving.

But this manic notion passed quickly. There was no point in getting this harmless kid
locked up – and, besides, I had plans for this car. I was looking forward to flashing around Gensokyo in the bugger. Maybe do a bit of serious drag-racing on the main road: Pull up to that big stoplight in front of the Scarlet and start screaming at the traffic: “Alright, you chickenshit wimps! You pussies! When this goddamn light flips green, I’m gonna stomp down on this thing and blow every one of you gutless punks off the road!” Right. Challenge the bastards on their own turf. Come Screeching up to the crosswalk, bucking and skidding with a bottle of rum in one hand and jamming the horn to drown out the music… glazed eyes insanely dilated behind tiny black, gold-rimmed greaser shades, screaming gibberish..., a genuinely dangerous drunk, reeking of spider silk and terminal psychosis. Revving the engine up to a terrible high-pitched chattering whine, waiting for the light to change...

How often does a chance like that come around? To jangle the bastards right down to the core of their spleens. Old elephants limp off to the hills to die; old humans go out to the highway and drive themselves to death with huge cars. But our trip was different. It was a classic affirmation of everything right and true and decent in the national character. It was a gross, physical salute to the fantastic possibilities of life in this country – but only for those with true grit. And we were chock full of that. My attorney understood this concept, despite her racial handicap, but our hitchhiker was not an easy person to reach. She said she understood, but I could see in her eyes that she didn't. She was lying to me.

The car suddenly veered off the road and we came to a sliding halt in the gravel. I was hurled against the dashboard. My attorney was slumped over the wheel. “What’s wrong?” I yelled. “We can’t stop here. This is yukkuri country!” “My heart,” she groaned. “Where’s the medicine?" “Oh,” I said. “The medicine, yes, it’s right here.” I reached into the kit-bag for the potions. The fairy seemed petrified. “Don’t worry,” I said. “This Oni has a bad heart – Angina Pectoris. But we have the cure for it. Yes, here they are.” I selected four potions out of the tin box and handed two of them to my attorney. She immediately downed one, and I did likewise. She took a long swig and fell back on the seat, staring straight up at the sun. “Turn up the fucking music!” she screamed. “My heart feels like an alligator! “Volume! Clarity! Bass! We must have bass!” She flailed her naked arms at the sky. “What’s wrong with us? Are we god-damn old hags?” I turned both the radio and the tape machine up full bore. “You scurvy shyster bitch,” I said. “Watch your language! You’re talking to a doctor of magic!” She was laughing out of control. “What the fuck are we doing out here in this forest?!” She shouted. “Somebody call the shrine maidens! We need help!”

“Pay no attention to this swine,” I said to the hitchhiker fairy. “She can’t handle the medicine. Actually, we’re both doctors of magic, and we’re on our way to Gensokyo to cover the main story of our generation.” And then I began laughing... My attorney hunched around to face the hitchhiker. “The truth is,” she said, “we’re going to Gensokyo to croak a swanky bitch named Yukari Yakumo. I’ve known her for years, but she ripped us off seven of ten mil– and you know what that means, right?” I wanted to shut her off, but we were both helpless with laughter. What the fuck were we doing out here in this forest when we both had bad hearts? “Yukari Yakumo has cashed her check!” My attorney snarled at the kid in the back seat. “We’re going to rip her lungs out!” “And eat them!” I blurted. “That bitch won’t get away with this! What’s going on in this country when a scum sucker like that can get away with sandbagging a doctor of magic?” Nobody answered. My attorney was cracking another potion open and the fairy was climbing out of the back seat, scrambling down the trunk lid. “Thanks for the ride,” she yelled. “Thanks a lot. I like you chicks. Don’t worry about me.” Her feet hit the asphalt and she started running back towards Osaka. Out in the middle of the forest, not a road in sight. “Wait a minute,” I yelled. “Come back and get a beer.” But apparently she couldn't hear me. The music was very loud, and she was moving away from us at good speed. “Good riddance,” said my attorney. “We had a real freak on our hands. That girl made me nervous. Did you see her eyes?” She was still laughing. “Byakuren,” she said. “This is good medicine!” I opened the door and reeled around to the driver’s side. “Move over,” I said. “I’ll drive. We have to get out of the Forest of Magic before that kid finds a Miko.” “Shit, that’ll be hours,” said my attorney. “She’s a hundred miles from anywhere.” “So are we,” I said. “Let’s turn around and drive back to the Lounge,” she said. “They’ll never look for us there." I ignored her. “Open the sake,” I yelled as the wind-scream took over again; I stomped
on the accelerator as we hurtled back onto the highway. Moments later she leaned over with a map. “There’s a place up ahead called Wakaba Springs,” she said. “As your attorney, I advise you to stop and take a swim.” I shook my head. “It’s absolutely imperative that we get to the Hotel before the deadline for press registration,” I said. “Otherwise, we might have to pay for our suite.” She nodded. “But let’s forget that bullshit about the Magical Girl Dream,” she said. “The important thing is the Great Oni Dream.” She was rummaging around in the kit-bag. “I think it’s about time to chew up a black pearl,” she said. “That cheap garlic wore off a long time ago, and I don’t know if I can stand the smell of that goddamn blood moss any longer.” “I like it,” I said. “We should soak a towel with the stuff and then put it down on the floorboard by the accelerator so the fumes will rise up in my face all the way to Gensokyo.” She was turning the tape cassette over. The radio was screaming: “U.N. Owen Was her?!” Flandre’s political song, ten years too late. “That poor fool should have stayed where she was,” said my attorney. “Punks like that just get in the way when they try to be serious.”

“Speaking of serious,” I said. “I think it’s about time to get into the blood moss and the black pearls.” “Forget blood moss,” he said. “Let’s save it for soaking down the rug in the suite. But here’s this. Your half of the black pearls. Just chew it up like gum.” I took the pearl and ate it. My attorney was now fumbling with the salt shaker containing the garlic. Opening it. Spilling it. Then screaming and grabbing at the air, as our fine yellow-white dust blew up and out across the forest highway. A very expensive little twister rising up from the Great Red Shark. “Oh, Byakuren!” she moaned. “Did you see what Kanako just did to us?”
“Suwako didn’t do that!” I shouted. “You did it. You’re a fucking Miko agent! I was on to your stinking act from the start, you bitch!” “You better be careful,” she said. And suddenly she was waving a fat black .357 magnum at me. One of those snubnosed Colt Python 5 with the beveled cylinder. “Plenty of tengu out here,” she said. “They’ll pick your bones clean before morning.”

“You whore” I said. “When we get to Gensokyo I’ll have you chopped into hamburger. What do you think the magician Bund will do when I show up with an Oni Miko sympathizer?” “They’ll kill us both,” she said. “Yukari Yakumo knows who I am. Shit, I’m your attorney.” She burst into wild laughter. “You’re full of spider silk, you fool. It’ll be a goddamn miracle if we can get to the hotel and check in before you turn into a wild animal. Are you ready for that? Checking into a Gensokyo hotel under a phony name with intent to commit capital fraud and a head full of reagents?” She was laughing again, then she jammed her nose down toward the salt shaker, aiming the thin green roll of a ¥200 bill straight into what was left of the powder.
“How long do we have?” I said. “Maybe thirty more minutes,” she replied. “As your attorney I advise you to drive at top speed.” Gensokyo was just up ahead. I could see the strip hotel skyline looming up through the
green grass haze: The Scarlet, the Yakumo, the Komeiji and the ominous Eientei – a cluster of red triangles in the distance, rising out of the grass.

Thirty minutes. It was going to be very close. The objective was the big tower of the Scarlet, downtown – and if we didn’t get there before we lost all control, there was also the Gensokyo prison upprovince. I had been there once, but only for a talk with the prisoners – and I didn’t want to go back, for any reason at all. So there was really no choice: We would have to run the gauntlet, and reagents be damned. Go through all the official gibberish, get the car into the hotel garage, work out on the desk clerk, deal with the bellfairy, sign in for the press passes – all of it bogus, totally illegal, a fraud on its face, but of course it would have to be done.

“KILL THE BODY AND THE HEAD WILL DIE”


This line appears in my notebook, for some reason. Perhaps some connection with Yukari Yakumo. Is she still alive? Still able to talk? I watched that fight in Sendai – horribly twisted about four seats down the aisle from the Mayor. A very painful experience in every way, a proper end to the sixties. Reimu Hakurei a prisoner of Remilia Scarlet in Gensokyo, Shikieiki doling out judgements in Kyoto, both Aki sisters murdered by kappas, and finally Sanae belted incredibly off her shrine by a hamburger, a Youkai on the verge of death. Reimu Hakurei, like Nixon, had finally prevailed for reasons that people like me refused to understand – at least not out loud. But that was some other era, burned out and long gone from the brutish realities of this
foul year of Our Lord, 2002. A lot of things had changed in those years. And now I was in Gensokyo as the magical editor of this fine slick magazine that had sent me out here in the Great Red Shark for some reason that nobody claimed to understand. “Just check it out,” they said, “and we’ll take it from there.

Indeed. Check it out. But when we finally arrived at the Scarlet Hotel my attorney was unable to cope artfully with the registration procedure. We were forced to stand in line with all the others – which proved to be extremely difficult under the circumstances. I kept telling myself: “Be quiet, be calm, say nothing… speak only when spoken to: name, rank and press affiliation, nothing else, ignore this terrible drug, pretend it’s not happening… There is no way to explain the terror I felt when I finally lunged up to the clerk and began babbling. All my well-rehearsed lines fell apart under that woman’s stoney glare. “Hi there,” I said. “My name is… ah, Marisa Kirisame… yes, on the list, that’s for sure. Free lunch, final wisdom, total coverage… why not? I have my attorney with me and I realize of course that her name is not on the list, but we must
have that suite, yes, this woman is actually my driver. We brought this Red Shark all the way from Osaka and now it’s time for the forest, right? Yes. Just check the list and you’ll see. Don’t worry. What’s the score here? What’s next?”

The woman never blinked. “Your room’s not ready yet,” she said. “But there’s somebody looking for you.” “No!” I shouted. “Why? We haven’t done anything yet!” My legs felt rubbery. I gripped the desk and sagged toward her as she held out the envelope, but I refused to accept it. The Woman’s face was changing: swelling, pulsing… horrible green jowls and fangs jutting out, the face of a Moray Eel! Deadly poison! I lunged backwards into my attorney, who gripped my arm as she reached out to take the note. “I’ll handle this,” she said to the Moray woman. “This girl has a bad heart, but I have plenty of medicine. My name is Doctor Ibuki. Prepare our suite at once. We’ll be in the bar.” The woman shrugged as she led me away. In a town full of bedrock crazies, nobody even notices a garlic freak. We struggled through the crowded lobby and found two stools at the bar. My attorney ordered two Honshu libres with beer and Nightshade on the side, then she opened the envelope. “Who’s Komachi?” she asked. "She’s waiting for us in a room on the twelfth floor.” I couldn’t remember. Komachi? The name rang a bell, but I couldn’t concentrate. Terrible things were happening all around us. Right next to me a huge reptile was gnawing on a woman’s neck, the carpet was a blood-soaked sponge – impossible to walk on it, no footing at all. “Order some golf shoes,” I whispered. “Otherwise, we’ll never get out of this place alive. You notice these lizards don’t have any trouble moving around in this muck – that’s because they have claws on their feet.”

“Lizards?” she said. “If you think we’re in trouble now, wait till you see what’s happening in the elevators.” She took off her Hawaiian sunglasses and I could see she’d been crying. “I just went upstairs to see this woman,” she said. “I told her we knew what she was up to. She says she’s a photographer, but when I mentioned Yukari Yakumo– well, that did it; she freaked. I could see it in her eyes. She knows we’re onto her.” “Does she understand we have wands?” I said. “No. But I told her we had a Kappa convertible. That scared the piss out of her.” “Good,” I said. “But what about our room? And the golf shoes? We’re right in the middle of a fucking reptile zoo! And somebody’s giving booze to these goddamn things! It won’t be long
before they tear us to shreds. Byakuren, look at the floor! Have you ever seen so much blood? How many have they killed already?” I pointed across the room to a group that seemed to be staring at us. “Holy shit, look at that bunch over there! They've spotted us!” “That’s the press table,” she said. “That’s where you have to sign in for our credentials. Shit, let’s get it over with. You handle that, and I’ll get the room.”

NOTE: I literally edited this while drunk so I apologize for the formatting.
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