Chapter 1:

I took out a loan and thought I'd kill myself, now I don't want to die.

The King in Hollow Earth


ShinShi City. An odd name for some, but home to many. Its the biggest city in the world, with an estimated 1% of the world's population. Yeah, you heard right. An estimated 80 million people live in the metropolitan area of ShinShi. Its a behemoth. A true monument to the industrial age of mankind and its taming of earth. Skyscrapers line the streets, packed together as close as possible. ShinShi is also home to the top 50 tallest high rises in the world. Yeah, all 50. Honestly, its ridiculous. Bookmark here

It's a city of vice, art, and opportunity. Even though Ive lived here all my life, I still feel like its not enough. I feel like I want more..... Bookmark here

Ah I should introduce myself. My name is Tatsuki. Im just a regular old kid, living life like kids do. Trying to find my next meal, spending tens of thousands of dollars on parties, hiding in a sewer pipe from loan sharks.... Bookmark here

WHAT AM I DOING WHAT AM I DOING. Why am I fucking narrating when Im about to be killed!? Ive always had a bad habit of coping by narrating about my life when Im in a bad situation, hoping that it will make the situation turn out like a story and be magically solved for me. BUT THATS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN! Shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit. Im gonna die. Shit. Bookmark here

I looked at my hands. They were shaking. I looked down at my whole body and realized everything was shaking. Fuck, now I get the will to live. Now Im afraid to die. Why couldnt I have realized that before I lied to some loan sharks? Why, instead of cheating some loan sharks out of a lot of money and thinking I'd kill myself afterwards, did I not think, 'huh, maybe this isnt a good idea'? I lack impulse control. I lack fucking impulse control and Im gonna die. I lack control and am too smart for my own good. That might seem contradictory, but what it means is that if I want to do something I do it, that Im able to think of some way to make it happen. It's a very bad combination. Bookmark here

My white button down shirt was wet. My black pants were wet, some of it my own piss. For some reason I thought it be cool if I wore a tie, so I have a black tie on me. Yeah I'll look real fucking cool as Im getting my arms cut off or crushed in a scrap yard. Who knows, maybe the gangsters will joke that I was the most handsome looking kid they ever killed? Why did I buy a stupid fucking tie? Bookmark here

I couldn't stop shivering. I didn't know what to do, the two loansharks had been right on my tail a couple minutes ago. All I did was buy myself a couple minutes. Now I don't know what to do. Do I follow the sewer pipe and go deeper in? It's a bit small, so Id have to crawl. Will there be a manhole or an opening I can exit out of if I go deeper? But if I go deeper and they try this pipe, Im dead. I'll be cornered like a rat with only one direction of escape, and I don't know how far this pipe goes. Okay calm down. Calm down Tatsuki. Peak outside, and see if they're nearby. If they sound far away, or you cant see any figures moving, going down the pipe would be the smartest option. If they aren't nearby, they wont be able to narrow down which pipe you went in to, and when they do try out the pipe, it should be enough time to find some opening or exit. Just peak outside. You don't have to stick your whole body out, just a little bit of your face so you can determine if they are close. Yeah you got this Tatsuki. Bookmark here

I looked from out the drainage pipe, and saw one of the two thugs staring back at me. He was what, twenty or thirty yards away. He screamed for his partner. "Hey Joe, I found the shit head. Get over here." Bookmark here

When he had turned his head to scream, that was when I pushed myself out of the drainage pipe and dashed for my life. I don't think Ive ever ran so hard, or for so long. I felt like my fear was giving me energy, empowering my endurance. That was probably just the adrenaline though. I looked back at the two gangsters, and they were falling further behind. I made it away from where all the old sewer openings were and found myself near a cheap motel. I couldn't think of anything to do but run. I ran past a man in a blue button down shirt, with black dress pants and brown hair. He was staring at me as I ran past him, while he had been walking. I made it to the parking lot of the cheap motel. Bookmark here

Success! All I'd need to do is keep running on the side of the road, and hit a more populated area. The loan sharks wont want to be seen chasing someone down busy streets. I'll go to the police, tell them everything Ive done. I'll apologize. I'll cry to them. I'll tell them I'm an orphan whose lived on the streets and in shitty homes his whole life, and that I was planning to kill myself when I took out the loan. Yeah that should be enough. They'll put me in witness protection, give me a new life. Who knows maybe even pay for college? That be nice. A quiet, safe life where I eat regularly everyday. I come home to my girlfriend, watch or read something and go to sleep in each others arms. Then go to work at the office doing some boring paperwork. Yeah, they can give me that. Just turn myself in. Maybe Ill have to serve some prison time, although considering it was a substantial amount from an organized crime family, they probably wont. Don't want a minor and ward of the state dying! Then I heard the sound that killed those dreams. Bookmark here

It was a gun shot. It didn't hit me, but it hit a car window near me. I froze. Bookmark here

"Turn around street rat. You cant run anymore." I looked behind me. One of the two gangsters had his gun aimed at me, and was slowly closing the distance. If I move he'll probably shoot me. He only fired a single shot, so if he fires them in succession at this range, one will probably hit me. For some reason, I just felt calm. I wasn't shaking anymore. I just kind of....accepted that this was the situation. I put up my hands and turned around. The guy with the gun was wheezing, and his partner was farther behind him, looking like he had run a marathon. The out of shape gangster caught up to his partner, put his hands on his knees, and breathed in. Then he made himself upright. Bookmark here

"Alright kid. We already know the answer to the question, but we gotta ask to make sure. Do you have all the money? If you do, we'll just beat you. " Bookmark here

I stared at them. I didn't want to answer. I just wanted to freeze this moment in time forever, so I wouldn't have to die. My eyes just peered into theirs, pleading with them to not go through with it. I don't want to die. Bookmark here

Even though I was in this situation, I couldn't stop myself from noticing someone in the background. It was the blue button down shirt guy. His face had no emotion on it at all. It seemed like he was lost in thought. Finally his eyes seemed to show awareness, and they met mine. That instant was eternal. I don't know why, but something feels weird. Something about that guy...whatever it doesn't matter. Im gonna die here. No need for someone else to also die. I turn my head to my right, trying to silently tell him he should get out of here. He doesn't move an inch. Fuck. Well, at least I tried. Bookmark here

"Ill take that silence as a no. Damn kid, why'd you have to do this? And fucking how? You actually managed to fake documents that made it seem your from a wealthy family. You're a street rat, how did you even get access to that shit? Maybe it was just our incompetence? Yeah, Im guessing the documents weren't that good, you just managed to know which guys were that stupid." The guy without the gun sighed. Bookmark here

"Well, this is the way it's gotta be. We gotta bring you back and make an example of you. Sorry kid. We gotta leave your body somewhere public, all messed up, then spread rumors. Nothing personal. Just how things are in this industry. We all answer to someone you know. " The gangster with no gun was obviously feeling guilty for killing a kid. Bookmark here

"Joe will you shut up. This guy isn't a little kid. He knows what he was getting himself into when he did it. He fucked with us, and manipulated our trust. Don't think its' wrong just because he's seventeen. It's not like he's a five year old brat crying for his mom. " The gangster with the gun said, pissed at the new found morality of his partner. Bookmark here

"Yeah yeah Johnny. Just wanted to understand it all I guess. Well, what's done is do-" Bookmark here

"That's a pretty girly looking gun you got right there. You know what they say about a guy with a small gun, don't you?" The gangster, named Johnny, turned his body and the gun to where the voice was coming from. Bookmark here

"And who the-" A bullet went through Johnny's skull. His body dropped to the floor. Joe, who had already turned to the source of the voice, had pulled out his gun and started to fire. It was the figure in the blue button down shirt. He ran past the firing of frantic bullets, and closed the distance with Joe. It was like he could see the bullets and dodge them. Bookmark here

The blue button down shirt guy put his gun, which definitely wasn't bigger than Johnnys, underneath his jaw aimed straight up. Joe whimpered. "Hey man its-its all good. Its all good take-" Bookmark here

"Bye Joe", the man said cheerfully. And the sound of the final bullet filled the air. Joe dropped to the ground. And in the cloudy night, with only dim lights, two corpses lay in front of a younger kid, and a relatively older man. Bookmark here


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