Chapter 1:

Rotting Plastics and Rusting Metals

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"Shosu..... Shosu wake up" said a voice.

Shosu jolted up, banging his head into the table he'd been sleeping under. His eyes were sunken and his lids were drooping. He yawned and looked around the room carefully. His eyesight was hazy, and he couldn't make out what was going on around him.

"Seriously man, how many times do I gotta come all the way over here to wake you up?" The voice spoke with a playful, yet annoyed, tone. The voice left Shosu relieved when he fully understood it.

His vision fixed on the blurry figure. Although he could not make out his face, he knew who it was. 

In a raspy voice Shosu spoke. “Sorry buddy, it’s hard to get up in the morning. Especially when you can’t afford an alarm.” He scratched the back of his head, giggling.  

"You expect me to believe you can't steal one? Just like every other thing in your room?" He looked around, looking at his useless junk.

His room was littered with trash that was strewn across the floor, hanging on the walls, and hung from the corners of his ceiling. Years of unused items accumulating dust create a foul odor. The stench of decaying plastics and rusted steel filled his bedroom. Not to mention the holes in his ceiling, which allowed water from the sky to seep through the filth and dirt on the roof to the ceiling. It would eventually reach the puddle at the bottom of the buckets, laid out by Shosu, and appear as dark brown water after a while.

He stretched out a hand, seeking for something to hold onto, near him. He couldn't tell if he was still dreaming or if he was just losing his sight. He was pulled up by the voice beside him who stretched out and grabbed his hand. It was soft as usual. He'd never understand how someone could keep their hands so smooth and clean.

He peered around the room, rubbing his eyes. The room was dimly lit. His only source of light was a single light bulb in the middle of the room. There were no windows, and even if there had been, it wouldn't have made a difference. In his house, the junk was stacked so high that it was impossible to determine how deep the walls were. He stretched his arms up and smiled.

"Now I'm fully awake. Morning man," he smiled and left his hand out for his friend to slap it, but only got an annoyed face starring back at him. He retracted his hand. "Okay, I'm sorry. I promise, I'll wake up next time.

"That's what you said last time..." his friend made a sour face.

"Axel, trust me. I'll buy an alarm," he smirked in confidence

"Buy?" Axel crossed his arms. "With money? So I take it you've been going to the job I got you?"

"Yeah! I love it! I always go in and do the stuff they ask. And also love how uh... open it is?" he smiled.

Axel sighed.

"What?" Shosu looked confused.

"You don't have to lie. I know you haven't been to work," Axel sat down on the chair behind him. He crossed his leg. "I stuck my neck out for you and you didn't even try." 

"Axel, I'm 19," he said in distress. "I still have so much ahead of me. I don't need to go to some stupid job," he pulled up a chair and leaned it back, leaving his legs up on his table, arms crossed behind his head. "Besides, I wasn't meant for that job. What was it again? Construction?"

"Cleaning dishes at a restaurant," he tapped his index finger on the table, impatiently.

Shosu smiled. "Yeah that! I'm not meant for that dude. I'm a thief, not a dishwasher."

Axel got up and pushed Shosu's leg off the table. He fell backwards and hit his head on the floor. 

"WHAT THE HELL IS THAT FOR???" Shosu sprung up and held his fists out.

"That's your way of repaying me for wasting my time. Anyways, get dress and meet me outside. I have to run some errands and need an extra pair of hands." Axel lit a cigarette

The dense fog that had gathered up struck Axel in the face as he stepped out the door. Because of the dampness, his cigarette became limp. The grey town of Artifact was unusual. It seemed as though no one wanted to leave their comfort zone. Nobody had an opinion on anything, and everyone was a sheep. What made people so content and peaceful? Days like this made Shosu unhappy, but Axel didn't seem to mind. " Mother nature was simply doing her job" people would say. That's maybe what set Shosu apart from the rest.

Axel squatted outside, taking in the moisture and resting his eyes. The door behind him swung opened and Shosu stepped out. 

"Where did you get those?" Axel got up, unamused.

He smiled. "My shoes?! I bought them!"

Axel once again was unamused.

"I stole them," he slouched in disappointment.

"And the jacket? That's the local high school's uniform," Axel looked away and started his to get on with his errands.

Shosu kept a blank face and caught up with Axel. He looked down at the ground, seeing shadows gather beneath his feet. With each movement, the form warped and changed. It was perplexing.

"What's on todays daily errands run?" He looked back up to Axel and made quotation marks with his fingers. "Picking up groceries?" 

Axel grinned, trying his hardest to light his cigarette despite the fact that he knew he couldn't. "Yeah. You know it never changes. Over and over again, it's the same thing.""Doesn't that bother you?" Repetition? Don't you ever wish you could do more?" His eyes sparkled.

Axel shifted his gaze to look at him. Shosu's expression made Axel uneasy.

"How vast do you think our world is?" I only ever hear about it in papers, but do you think it's anything like our town?"

Axel spat out his cigarette and concentrated on getting where he needed to go. "We can discuss this at a later time."

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