Chapter 1:

Anyone Can Work Retail!

Anyone Can Write A Light Novel!


“And the first runner up to the essay-writing competition goes to…”Bookmark here

I smirk. Because I know for certain I wouldn’t be hearing my name. With the amount of work, research and rewriting I have put into the story I wrote, second place is not where I belong. For a writer with my talents, second place is where the losers go to cry.Bookmark here

“Sawamura Aki!”Bookmark here

Heh. Expected. That guy. He passes by my seat to reach the stage with a boring, deadbeat look. With his glasses hiding his dull eyes, his pimpled cheeks flushed from the attention of the school hall, and his belly jutting out beneath his uniform, this guy was a textbook loser. I’ve seen him obsess over some crappy manga because of an anime girl back in the Literature Club. Meanwhile, me and the other members were discussing the hallmarks that make a masterpiece.Bookmark here

The fact that you can stand on that very same podium where I, a legend in the making, will take, should be the peak of your pathetic life. Coming in second is the best you can make of your existence. Look at that barely there smile. You can’t even make eye contact with the teacher handing out the award because you’re a loser with no social life.Bookmark here

We’re just born different, you and I. Sorry, not sorry.Bookmark here

“And the winner of the essay-writing competition and the most promising writer of our school is…!”Bookmark here

Oh, don’t bother with the pause, Miss Announcer. You know it’s me. Everyone knows it’s me. Who else could it be, but me?Bookmark here

“Ito Ryuji!”Bookmark here

Hahhh, of course. I stand up and adjust my tie to the roar of a thousand cheers that echoes under the rigid walls of the school hall. The whole Literature Club is clapping for my success, unlike the dead silence they gave to Aki that sorry geek. Oh, was that a high pitched squeal I heard? Seems I’m going to have to reject another girl later today. Sorry ladies, this man’s already taken.Bookmark here

Unlike that Aki, I climb the podium with my head held high. Unlike that Aki, I look at the teacher dead in the eyes and even give her a wink. Unlike that Aki, I hold my trophy, which is bigger than his, over my head triumphantly.Bookmark here

The crowd roars, confetti is thrown to the air and the spotlights blind me. This is a mere stepping stone to my career. With this award, any company will hire me for my brilliance. They’ll bow down to my demands, and they’ll grovel at my feet just to have my name plastered on their books. Just watch me. My name will resound across the world!Bookmark here

~~~~~Bookmark here

“Welcome to Dawson!”Bookmark here

The doorbell goes off as the glass doors slide open. The breath of the summer wind gets caught in the air conditioning. An aging man with a cane steps in, huddling toward the counter at a snail’s pace. In this convenience store which had just been mopped clean, his decrepit presence feels like a stain. I fake a smile to the best of my ability as he approaches me.Bookmark here

“One… Big Mag…”Bookmark here

“Sir, this is a Dawson. We don’t sell burgers here.”Bookmark here

“What?”Bookmark here

“I said, we don’t sell burgers. There’s a MagRonald’s down the street if that’s what you’re looking for.”Bookmark here

“Whaaat? I said, one Big Mag! What are ya, stupid? S’pose you are, seeing that you’re working minimal wage!”Bookmark here

This old man needs to get his ears cleaned. Who let him out the house? Keep this geezer indoors till he rots to death! Bookmark here

“I said!” I raise my voice so he can get it through his earwax. “We don’t sell burgers here!”Bookmark here

Silence fills the air. The customers look upon the counter in mild interest. The old man grimaces at me with fury in his eyes.Bookmark here

“So disrespectful!” He yells, raising his cane to swing it at me. “Is that how you talk to your elders?! Did your dad not teach you anything?!”Bookmark here

His swings were weak but I wasn’t about to let a slab of wood smack me in the face. I yank my head back and dodge as best I can but I was cornered by the wall behind me. With nowhere else to go, the old man leaned over the counter and delivered some blows at me. I guarded my face with my hands as best I can. If I fought back, I was the one who’d be in trouble.Bookmark here

“Stupid runt! I almost got a heart attack when you shouted at me!”Bookmark here

This stupid geezer was the one who couldn’t hear me at all! And you expect not to get shouted at when you’re so obnoxious? If I had my way, I’d strangle you right now! You’ve lived in this world long enough!Bookmark here

But I couldn’t.Bookmark here

I’m behind on rent. I’m eating cup noodles for lunch and dinner. If I lose this job, I’ll end up in the streets. I can’t fight back even though I know I’m not at fault. I just have to brave through this and hope it’s over quickly.

The swings keep coming, like a hail of bullets across the battlefield. Unskilled, untrained, uncivilized. The stings on my arm burn with each bite. Eventually, the pain dissipated into a kind of numbness. I look the geezer dead in his bloodshot eyes. There's no reasoning with him. One catch of the cane, and I can pay him back a thousand times…Bookmark here

“Whoa, stop, stop, stop, stop!” Bookmark here

My coworkers cry out as they broke up the fight. One of them pulled the ranting old man back as another checks on me with concern. I lower my bruised arm to see my manager looking down on me as if I were walking garbage.Bookmark here

~~~~~Bookmark here

Throughout the day, the obese manager didn’t speak of the incident. Yet I felt an air coming from him. A dreadful air that told me that my job wasn’t safe anymore. As the shift ended, I changed my clothes. When I passed by the manager via the back exit, he didn’t even spare me a glance when he said,Bookmark here

“I’m deducting your salary.”Bookmark here

Are you kidding me? I didn’t do anything wrong. That old man was the one who started that squabble. I was just doing my job. And you’re punishing me as if I was the one who picked a fight? I’m the one who walked out with bruises after choosing not to fight back! All because I want to keep my salary and this stupid job!Bookmark here

Stupid manager, I’ll kill you! I’ll rip out that Vario-looking moustache from your mouth and stamp it on your butt! You think you can treat me like this and get away with it?! I’ll gut you to pieces, you lowly convenience store manager!Bookmark here

Is what I screamed to myself inside my head. But knowing I need some form of pay, I simply forced a smile at him and with a husky voice, replied,Bookmark here

“I understand, sir.”Bookmark here

I close the door behind me and take a deep breath. A lone emptied can of beer stands in the alleyway. Without a hint of hesitation, I channel all my energy and punt it as if I were a football player aiming to score from the mid-field. The can bounces off the walls and floors before settling down in a tumble.Bookmark here

I hate this job so much its unimaginable. People come in through those doors every single day thinking they’re better than you. That you’re just a dedicated button pusher for whatever they’re buying. They don’t look you in the eyes, they don’t thank you for your service. No! They think you’re lower than them because you ended up behind that cash register!Bookmark here

Then there’s customers like that geezer who think they can act however they want! Like their dad’s the president of this country! Oh, you think that geezer was the only one? No! There’s so many people like him who just shout and nag at you even if you’re doing your job properly! They think they’re entitled to be treated like royalty! Why? Because they’re not working retail? So that puts them above me?! I’m human too, dammit!Bookmark here

Hah hah….Bookmark here

I feel myself panting alone in the cold. My shift’s over, so I should take a break. Normally, when I feel stressed out like this, I’d hit a bar and drown myself away with some whiskey. But that option’s off the table. I’m outta cash. I gambled it all away against the landlord in a last ditch effort to get some form of income back. There’s nowhere to go but my crummy one room apartment.Bookmark here

Plugging in my keys to my bike I left at the parking lot, I straddle it with a hunch. One foot stomping the pedal, I blitz through the neon lights of Tokyo and hope the speed will blow all my frustrations away.Bookmark here

Every day, I check my phone hoping to get a response from publishers, to no avail. When I moved to Tokyo ten years ago, this is far from the life I expected to live. I knew I had everything it took to succeed as a novelist. I’ve studied so much on writing techniques, plot progression, world building and character writing… I’ve spent all of my high school life readying myself to take flight into the world of publications. I didn’t even bother going to college!Bookmark here

So why?! Why am I stuck in this rut?! Why haven’t I managed to get a single piece published?! It’s all that stupid Maeda’s fault! If it wasn’t for him… If I never had to meet that quibbling mistake of a human being, I wouldn’t be here right now. I swear, if I ever see him on this street, I’ll run him over!Bookmark here

Screech!Bookmark here

A truck brakes from the left side harshly, shocking me to step on my own. I was almost run over by it, but narrowly escaped hitting it by a hair’s breadth. My heart races at the thought that my life could have ended right there if I wasn’t so fortunate. The driver screams at me, but the windshields prevent me from hearing what he has to say. He drives off in an angry puff.Bookmark here

I roll my bike over to the sidewalk to cool my head a bit. I could have died there because my head was so messed up. I take a deep breath and lean against my bike, looking up at the massive screen overlooking the junction.Bookmark here

“This summer, Kazuha, the Blitzblade Swordsman, faces his mightiest foe, the immortal Vladyax, to save the life of his beloved Asami!”Bookmark here

Ugh, it’s one of those anime movies that’s been making the rounds lately. I don’t watch much anime, especially the ones that have been coming out as of late. I prefer watching period dramas for the history and political intrigue. But I don’t have a TV anymore, so much for that.Bookmark here

“Kazuhaaaaaaa!”Bookmark here

And there the main heroine goes, screaming the name of the main character. I wonder if this character was created for the sole purpose of screaming his name…Bookmark here

“I won’t let you get away with this, Vladyaaaaaaax!”Bookmark here

“Huahahahahaha!”Bookmark here

Sheesh, the dialogue is so bad. The main character says the most boring things. And the bad guy’s so cookie cutter evil that I might as well be watching a kid’s show. Is this really what’s popular these days? All that good animation’s being wasted on this script.Bookmark here

And the title scrawls… Blade Reincarnation Phantasia -The Movie-. That’s not even a sentence. And why spell it with a ‘Ph’? God, who wrote this garbage—Bookmark here

Sawamura Aki.Bookmark here

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Original Concept by Sawamura Aki.Bookmark here

That guy? That loser no one liked back in the Literature Club? That Aki who kept to himself, made no friends and jerked himself off to drawings? That Aki? No way. Absolutely no way. I refuse to believe. I refuse to accept.Bookmark here

… Is what I say but I immediately took out my phone and looked up his name. And I find the same image of the spectacled dork, less pimply and lost some weight, but still the same asocial loser I remember. He apparently dove into Light Novels, to target a younger demographic. Suits his mental age, hah. And there he is holding a copy of this crappy novel ‘Blade Reincarnation Phantasia’. Bookmark here

Haha… It’s bad right? It’s gotta be bad. This trailer alone tells me this franchise is awful. So there’s no way that second place guy could succeed when it comes to publishing his novels, right? Right…? Bookmark here

I look it up one more time and the net worth of this franchise that spawned from this loser’s writing. He couldn’t have profited. I won’t accept a world where this guy can make money off his books. Bookmark here

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Fifty million. T-That’s still small considering it’s a franchise.Bookmark here

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Fifty million dollars.Bookmark here

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I… I can’t believe it. That loser Aki that no one liked actually turned a profit with his terrible writing?! While the rest of us sat together discussing the intricacies of the books we read and he sat in a corner crying to his lonesome… Of all people, that guy was the one who made it big?!Bookmark here

What is wrong with this world?! Why would you allow a guy like him to make it like that?! And why… Why did you choose to screw me over when I worked so hard to take my rightful place in the literature world?!Bookmark here

I can’t stand it. I hate it. I want to ask that truck driver to run me over this time around. I don’t want to live in a world where I’m stuck in a Dawson while a talentless hack like Aki gets to succeed in life!Bookmark here

I… No. That’s wrong. I shouldn’t think that way.Bookmark here

Death is a loser’s solution to their problems. I am not a loser. I was blessed by the Gods of Literature with limitless talent. Whatever Aki can do, I can do better while blindfolded! I’ll show you, Aki… I’ll show you, world… I’ll become a novelist in the same company as Sawamura Aki, then I’ll take the reins of the company right under his feet! He sits on a throne worth 50 million dollars? I’ll take a throne worth 100 million!Bookmark here

I won’t cry. I won’t complain. I’ll walk myself through those doors with the best damn Light Novel the likes of which none of these tasteless masses have ever seen! And there I’ll show that Aki where he belongs!Bookmark here

To begin my glorious journey that will blaze my name into the etches of history, I shall…! Do some research!
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