Chapter 1:

Pancakes with a serving of tardiness

Kaizen


“You sure you do not want to fake an injury or an illness?” Albert asked as he poured himself a cup of coffee.Bookmark here

“Well, Dad, I’m pretty sure they are not gonna believe that I suddenly come down with a mysterious illness the day of my orientation. Kai replied, as he rummaged through the several cardboard boxes scattered across the kitchen table.Bookmark here

“Nonsense, I can report that you developed aplastic anemia, and have my hematologist friend at Mount Wood Hospital sign off on the medical forms. They will never know”Bookmark here

“Well, I'm not so keen on going to prison for lying and you losing your medical license.”Bookmark here

“Well, at least keep it in the back of your mind, would not be a bad back-up plan” Albert replied as he took the leftover pancakes out of the microwave.Bookmark here

“Here you go! Found it! Kai exclaimed, handing over a set of plates and cutlery to his dad.Bookmark here

“Thanks, can you wake up Zeke? I’ll try to find the syrup and butter” replied Albert as he peered into the contents of the boxes spread out around his feet.Bookmark here

Kai nodded, maneuvering his way between the sea of furniture and cardboard on his way to the living room. The Langford household was not great in size, a shophouse with Albert’s family clinic residing on the bottom floor, with the Langfords living above. The living room, much like the kitchen, was littered with boxes filled with items and appliances the family had accumulated in their 10 years away from Haishi. However, the house itself had remained virtually untouched since their absence, from the sofa to the beds to the tv.Bookmark here

*Knock Knock*Bookmark here

“Yo Zeke! Breakfast is ready, you gotta wake up. Your school bus should be here in 20 minutes.” said Kai as he gently shaked his younger brother awake.Bookmark here

“5…. 5 more minutes”Bookmark here

“Oi ! C’mon wake up you don’t wanna be late for the first day of school!” Albert replied, as he pulled the covers off.Bookmark here

“Im not like you, Im not gonna be late” replied Zeke as he begrudgingly opened his eyes, accepting his fate.Bookmark here

“Whats with the suit?”Bookmark here

“Dad said it was mandatory to wear a suit for the orientation, kind of a pain in the ass” replied Zeke as he attempted to loosen the knot his dad had made on the tie.Bookmark here

Kail was dressed from top to bottom in a navy two-piece suit with cuffs touching his knuckles, a jacket one size too large and pants that were slightly oversized causing them to crinkle at the bottom. Having landed the night before, Kai and Albert were forced to quickly buy the outfit at the department store only minutes before it closed. The oversized suit and pants only emphasized Kai’s thin figure, making him look like a child who as a joke decided to steal and wear his parents' clothes.Bookmark here

“Boys, the pancakes are gonna get cold!!! They’re rubbery already, I don't think you are going to want to eat them after a second time in the microwave!” shouted Albert from the kitchenBookmark here

“Coming!!!” Kai and Zeke replied in unisonBookmark here

***Bookmark here

Haishi city. A metropolis home to around 10 million people, rated by Tyme Magazine as the 3rd best city in the world. A skyline filled with high-rise apartments, office towers and government buildings. The city has world class attractions and infrastructure including dozens of shopping malls, fantastic schools and parks along with a lively nightlife scene. A city renowned for its low crime, and abundance of opportunities. One could argue that Haishi is the ideal place to live, for people of all ages and walks of life. However, one thing that many people forget to mention when talking about Haishi, are the traffic jams that could drive even the most sane person mad.Bookmark here

Albert Langford was no exception to this rule. In most respects, Albert was a calm, mild-mannered, and rather friendly human. Yet, when placed behind a wheel especially in the presence of a traffic jam, the friendly doctor transforms into a monster, consumed by road rage. Today was no different.Bookmark here

“10 years away from this city, and they still can not change these shitty highways! Who planned the design of these roads! They are telling me with all the tax money they receive they can just make some extra lanes! Albert shouted pointing at his windshieldBookmark here

“All I want to do is drop my son off for his orientation, is that so hard to do! In theory this should only take 20 minutes, why have we been in this car for 40!”Bookmark here

Kai remained quiet, knowing that any attempts to calm his dad down would result in further annoyance and complaints. For Kai, this was a surprisingly calming scenario. His dad’s hatred towards urban road planning, took Kai’s mind off what was to come.Bookmark here

Kai and Albert had managed to reach the city centre, littered with people going to work to the numerous skyscraper office buildings that filled the area. Amongst the skyscrapers, stood the Haishan Metropolitan government building, a grey twin-towered building that dominated the cluttered downtown sky-line.Bookmark here

As their car pulled up to the drop-off point of the building, Kai could feel the anxiety build up. He was used to being the new kid, his family had moved constantly in their 10 years abroad after all. But that feeling of being unknown, going to a place where you probably know nobody, the fear of the unknown, that is something you can never truly get used to.Bookmark here

“Well bud, this is the closest I can go with you. I talked with your mom this morning, so hopefully she can send some good luck our way” said Albert as he put the car into brake, sensing his son’s nervousness.Bookmark here

“Yeah, it should be okay dad… Its just orientation, shouldn't be too bad” replied Kai, as he attempted to psyche himself out of it.Bookmark here

“Just message me when you are done with the orientation, I should be able to pick you up, but I am opening the Clinic after lunch”Bookmark here

“... Alright Kai?”Bookmark here

“Yeah, dad, thanks…” Kai replied opening the car doorBookmark here

“Just, try not to overthink it too much Kai? It’ll take some time, but we will get through it together”Bookmark here

As his dad drove off, Kai faced and turned to the metropolitan building, its towers engulfing the surrounding area. The bustling city centre around him seemed to have become quiet, seldom a person around him to be seen. The sound of traffic and footsteps all but disappeared. The silence was deafening. Kai stood there idly, frozen in time, paralyzed, his body feeling both icy cold and red hot all at once.Bookmark here

“Fuck me” Kai murmered under his breath, shaking his head in an attempt to snap himself out of his daze. Kai remembered that due to the traffic jam was already 20 minutes late to the orientation, pulled the letter out of his bag. His fingers trembling as he gripped the paper, read that he needed to proceed to the G entrance and take the lift up to the orientation.Bookmark here

Kai looked up to realize that his Dad had already dropped him off at the entrance, however unlike the rest of the entrances to the building, the G entrance was a small lobby attached to the side of the tower. Inside, Kai was met with a singular lift but no directions or person in sight.Bookmark here

Perplexed, Kai pressed the upwards facing arrow button on the lift.Bookmark here

*Entrance G lift… Please display your identification to proceed*Bookmark here

Kai scurridly placed the ID that he had received in the mail up to the camera that had revealed itself in front of the lift buttons.Bookmark here

*Cross match scan commencing*Bookmark here

Suddenly red bars of light consumed the room, as the sensors scanned Kai’s biometrics to fit the profile that was embedded into his identification card.Bookmark here

*Identification and Scanning complete, Mr. Kai Langford please proceed to floor 88.*Bookmark here

Kai, relieved that he had not just been possibly fried to death or triggered an alarm defense system by the scanners on accident, moved into the lift. The doors shut behind him, as the elevator shot up through the tower. Kai grabbed the elevator railing and attempted to practice breathing techniques he had seen on utube, when he was trying to learn how to meditate. The feeling in his stomach had now rushed up to his chest, he was feeling tingles all over his body, his fingers trembled on the railing.Bookmark here

*You have reached the 88th floor*Bookmark here

The elevator doors opened. Kai, shocked by the sudden opening, peered out of the elevator to see where to go. As he stepped out, he was met by a long hallway that led to two large wooden doors. Even from the other end of the hallway, Kai could hear the sound of someone talking. Someone giving a speech? He thought to himself. As Kai walked closer to the doors, the voice grew louder and louder.Bookmark here

“The Special defense force was founded to protect the citizens of Haishi”Bookmark here

Kai, now standing in front of the door, could hear the man clearly.Bookmark here

“Great, I’m 30 minutes late and I'm nervous as shit and now I have to walk into a room full of people that are gonna stare at me. Great first day…” Kai thought to himself as he grabbed the handle of the door”Bookmark here

“Well here goes nothing” Kai murmured under his breath, as he pulled the handle to the door.Bookmark here

As the door opened, the room of 40 people turned round to see Kai sheepishly step inside. The man who had been giving the speech prior to his entrance, stopped for a second, and smiled from ear to ear.Bookmark here

“Mr.Kai Langford, I’m glad you could make it! I see that your tardiness has not changed one bit.” Bookmark here

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Kaizen


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