000: Ground Zero

Okay, so my name is Kurai, the one with the raven colored hair, just so you know.

It was an ordinary Tuesday, or Kayōbi, if anything can be said to be ordinary in post-apocalyptic Tokyo. If you are visiting from an alternative universe, time traveling, or just don’t have any news apps installed, our particular apocalypse was nothing dramatic, at least to start, nothing that would make an interesting movie anyway.

Just a complete collapse of the financial system and cryptocurrency at the same time, followed by a bizarre persistent sunspot episode (fried electronics), the reversal of the magnetic poles of the planet, plus the big eruption in Yellowstone Park in what used to be called Beikoku or Amerika. In any case, we’re virtually back to the barter system, in most cases, and though cowrie shells may make a comeback, gold is still golden.

Some things never change, it appears, since there is still high school, and I’m in the middle of a four-year sentence. My cellmate in prison, AKA best friend, is Rin, who had the foresight to go with red hair so people will quit thinking of us as clones. In addition to sharing every disadvantage of being teens in a debilitated world, we have identical coping mechanisms, which include a healthy dose of wariness and a cynical fondness for dark fashion, as an antidote to the otherwise pervasive decay in artistic expression.

Where we differ is the whole demon thing. I see them and she doesn’t. I tend to think she’s better off not knowing.

Demons, entities, nasty spirits, whatever you call them, are everywhere. Free floating, stuck on people’s heads. Living in their hearts, curled up in their stomach, partying in their junk.

And it’s not like I’m free of the demon fest, since any negativity that I entertain can start to balloon into a nasty little creature. Sometimes they buzz around me like gnats, laughing and chatting meaninglessly.

It’s hard not to be a bit cynical about all this, but I have to watch it, or the personal and free-floating demonic horde is a bit overwhelming.

I can typically keep the volume down, even if I’m sometimes followed by a cloud of the pesky bitches.

But the big problem is the Oni, which are more or less manifestations of fears and anxieties in general, which are amplified in a big way right now. They are a nasty bunch, and I avoid them as much as possible. Despite my best efforts, they seem to find a way to trail me, their presence looming like an ominous cloud.

But on this particular Tuesday, I was followed, even though it all started with an innocent after school search for some kind of street food with Rin. The bustling streets seemed to swallow us as we ventured deeper into the heart of the city, unaware of the shadowy figures lurking just out of sight.

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