Chapter 3:

Café Glasses

I Became the Manager of the First Galactical Idols

I sat on the cold floor, troubled by how things were unraveling. Sanae and Risa sat in front of me. I reached for the glasses in my pocket but felt fragments instead. Oh no.Bookmark here

I took the glasses out followed by many pieces. The slim frame was intact, but the glass—actually bio-polycarbonate—was shredded. Only a few bits still hung from the frame.Bookmark here

Isn't this material supposed to not break?! This is what happens when you buy the cheapest brand…Bookmark here

"What's that?" Sanae asked.Bookmark here

"My glasses. I was going to use them to research idols and write my project's introduction…"Bookmark here

"Aren't they supposed to never break?"Bookmark here

"I bought cheap ones, okay?"Bookmark here

"Why? Are you struggling with money?"Bookmark here

"No. I just want to save the most I can."Bookmark here

"I was curious about that," Risa said. "Do you have another job?"Bookmark here

"I don't. The government gives you a salary whilst you study. You don't even know that?"Bookmark here

They shook their heads.Bookmark here

I sighed. "It's barely enough to survive, though. That's why I save. Anyway. I suppose you don't have any glasses I could borrow."Bookmark here

They shook their heads again.Bookmark here

"Anything else? A computer?"Bookmark here

"We have one," Sanae answered. "But it's so old that it can't even use the QNet."Bookmark here

"Then why do you have it for?"Bookmark here

"Classic games and decoration," she grinned.Bookmark here

Are you kidding me?Bookmark here

"Maybe Gorō has something," Risa suggested.Bookmark here

"I doubt it. He would've given it to us already," Sanae replied. "But asking won't hurt. Probably."Bookmark here

"Very funny," I deadpanned. I stood up. "Where can I find him?"Bookmark here

"Upstairs. Door on the right," Sanae responded.Bookmark here

"Okay."Bookmark here

As I approached the door leading to the hallway, Sanae and Risa giggled behind me.Bookmark here

"What are you giggling about?"Bookmark here

"Nothing!" Sanae answered. "Don't be shy, just go. We'll be waiting for you."Bookmark here

That's suspicious, to say the least.Bookmark here

I walked out of the room and stepped on the stairs. They would creak with the slightest movements. With the bad luck I had in the last hours, I didn't doubt the stairs to crumble and a splinter to kill me. Luckily, nothing happened and I made it safe and sound.Bookmark here

When I got close to the door, hard chops came from inside, followed by something being dragged. They repeated a few times before I knocked on the door.Bookmark here

"Come in," Butcher answered. His deep voice had returned.Bookmark here

I opened the door. "Hey, Butcher. I wondered if you—What the hell!"Bookmark here

The strongest of odors hit my nose like a blow. I immediately pinched it to stop smelling. Dozens of meat, animal corpses hung from a rail on the ceiling. It was the first time I had seen something that gore. There was no blood, but it still made me nauseous.Bookmark here

I can't even see Butcher!Bookmark here

Out of nowhere, he appeared from behind the corpses. He pushed them aside and walked through them as if they didn't exist.Bookmark here

"What's up, young man?" His voice had returned to normal.Bookmark here

I should be brief.Bookmark here

"M-My glasses broke and I need to finish homework for tomorrow. I was wondering if you had any device I could borrow. Glasses, a QPad, a computer…"Bookmark here

He thoughtfully stared at me. "Is it that important?"Bookmark here

"Critical," I replied.Bookmark here

He sighed and walked to the other side of the room. He opened a drawer and took a pair of glasses out. He walked back.Bookmark here

"Someone paid me with these a few weeks ago," he said. "I was waiting to surprise Sanae-chan and Risa-chan on their birthdays with them, but you can use them."Bookmark here

He held one of the most expensive models in the market, if not the most. He probably didn't know that, judging by the fact that he kept them in a drawer in such a room. I carefully grabbed them.Bookmark here

"Thank you very much, Butcher—"Bookmark here

Suddenly, the glass came off from the frame and fell to the ground. It didn't break, but it was impossible to glue them back without special tools. Butcher and I stared at them.Bookmark here

He let out a deep breath. "I'm sorry, young man. I don't have anything else you can use."Bookmark here

"It's fine. Thank you, anyway."Bookmark here

I gave him the frame back and he picked up the glass from the floor.Bookmark here

"I'll have to pay someone a visit later." He put the glasses back inside the drawer.Bookmark here

I pity that someone.Bookmark here

As I walked out of the room, I heard quick and heavy steps running downstairs. I returned to Sanae and Risa, who were dancing in front of the mirror.Bookmark here

"Were you spying on us?" I asked.Bookmark here

"What? Of course not," Sanae stuttered. "Don't you see we are—"Bookmark here

"I'm sorry! She made me do it!" Risa shouted and bowed.Bookmark here

"Risa!"Bookmark here

I crossed my arms and stared at them.Bookmark here

"Okay, sorry," Sanae dully apologized. "We just wanted to see your reaction when you saw Gorō's storage. It was worth it."Bookmark here

"Whatever. I have to buy a new pair. I'll be back in an hour."Bookmark here

"Wait," Sanae stopped me. "Why don't we go to the café?"Bookmark here

"Is there one nearby?"Bookmark here

She nodded. "Two streets away. We are regulars there."Bookmark here

In the long term, it will be better to buy glasses. But now, I'd rather go there than waste money. Who knows how much I'll need for this business.Bookmark here

Without wasting any time, Sanae and Risa told Butcher we were heading out. We crossed the first street and I couldn't help but feel unsafe. However, practically everyone greeted Sanae and Risa as we walked. It was strange. I had never seen anything like that in any other district.Bookmark here

The buildings got more and more exotic as we approached the center of the district. More neon signs, extravagant colors, and a lot more people wandered around. It was much more lively but also incredibly noisier.Bookmark here

There was a point when people started bumping each other because of how crowded it was. Luckily, we arrived at the café. The interior looked cleaner than I had expected, but I still couldn't understand why everything in the district had to have a dark color.Bookmark here

I followed Sanae and Risa to the counter, where a woman stood.Bookmark here

"Look who we have here; the rude dames."Bookmark here

Rude dames?Bookmark here

"Hi, Kiku," Sanae replied. "Do you have a free spot?"Bookmark here

"But of course. There's always a spot for you, sweethearts."Bookmark here

"Thanks!"Bookmark here

Kiku gazed at me. "And who's the dull-looking guy?"Bookmark here

Hey. We haven't even introduced ourselves.Bookmark here

"He's our new manager."Bookmark here

She didn't even deny it.Bookmark here

"You finally got one. I'm glad for you."Bookmark here

Sanae and Risa beamed.Bookmark here

"What's your name, Mr. Manager?" Kiku asked me.Bookmark here

"Kaito Miyahara, fourth-year student of Business Administration at Saitama University. Nice to meet you."Bookmark here

"We have an erudite here. Call me Kiku. I run this place."Bookmark here

Not very respectful, I see.Bookmark here

"Come on, Kaito," Sanae said. "You need to finish your project."Bookmark here

Just like her. When did I tell her to call me by my given name?Bookmark here

They walked away. About to follow them, Kiku stopped me.Bookmark here

"Mr. Manager, don't try anything weird. It's actually a suggestion. They will kick your ass and it won't be pretty." Bookmark here

"I can imagine that. Don't worry, I won't."Bookmark here

"I don't worry, you should be the one worrying. Anyway, they seem happy, so I thank you for that. Now go, they are waiting for you."Bookmark here

I followed Sanae and Risa through the café. There were people sitting at the tables but not too many. Half of the booths—each one protected by a door and walls—were occupied. We stepped inside one and closed the door. It was barely big enough to fit the three of us and only had one chair.Bookmark here

"You sit, Kaito," Sanae said.Bookmark here

I sat down. "Why do you call me by my given name?"Bookmark here

"You told Gorō to call you Kaito, so I supposed you wanted us to call you Kaito too. We can call you by your last name if you want."Bookmark here

"Kaito's fine."Bookmark here

I stared at the computer. It was made of glass instead of a hologram and it used a digital keyboard instead of being controlled with brain signals. It was old but good enough.Bookmark here

I hate using keyboards. At least it supports InsTranfer.Bookmark here

The screen turned on. The reflections were quite bad, making it difficult to see dark colors. The computer instantly recognized me and asked me if I wanted to transfer the necessary data from the Cloud as I needed it—a feature known as InsTransfer. I tapped on the screen to accept.Bookmark here

I created an empty folder and a new document inside. I had forgotten how slow I was at typing with a keyboard. I could feel Sanae's and Risa's judgmental gazes.Bookmark here

Finally, I opened the QNet browser.Bookmark here

"What should I search?" I wondered.Bookmark here

"You don't know anything about idols, right?" Sanae asked.Bookmark here

"Nothing at all."Bookmark here

"Then just type idols."Bookmark here

Slowly, I typed the word.Bookmark here

"Why are you slow at typing?" Risa asked.Bookmark here

"Because I'm not used to it. Stop judging me."Bookmark here

"I'm sorry!" she fretted.Bookmark here

"Don't worry, that's my humor."Bookmark here

The search results appeared as soon as I tapped the search button. The first result was the definition of the term idol. The second one was an article talking about the decline of idols.Bookmark here

Cel T.
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