Chapter 1:

Black Snow

Through the Christmas Glass

Kuro tripped on a root and fell face down on the thick snow. His pursuers were closing in but he was utterly spent. He barely ever stopped running for his life since he came to this bizarre world. He was also famished; his stomach was growling like a V12 car engine running on its last fuel vapors.

Kuro was pursued because he was different. And ‘different’ is scary to many people. Kuro thought everyone else was different and was rather scared as well. When he was transported here the first thing he noticed was the snow. Unlike normal snow this was pitch black.

‘How on Earth is that possible?’
he thought. Then he saw the trees. Their remaining leaves were red, not green, and their trunks and branches dark blue-ish. He recalled some color theory from a photography course he took years ago, and he soon realized that every color -basic, complementary or composite- was reversed. White was black, green was red, yellow was violet etc And vice versa.

The skin color of the people was also reversed. Everyone had a skin tone ranging from blue to violet. Everyone, that is, except Kuro. Which made him stand out like a white fly in black milk.

Kuro spitted out some black snow from his mouth. Strangely it tasted like normal snow, and when it melted it turned into normal transparent water, not black. So, at least, he would not die of thirst. He tried to eat some red grass that was close but it was bitter and almost puked his empty guts out.

“That's it, I'm done,” he said. “No more running. Let them capture me, kill me, burn me, water-board me or whatever the frack they do to weird creatures like me here. I'd rather die than run any more on this pitch black infernal snow. If only I had one last meal...” he added before passing out, as his pursuers holding pitchforks and torches with pastel blue flames were fast approaching. 
Kuro is a college student who, 19-odd years after he was born, is still laughed at for his name wherever he goes. His parents have always declared with pride that they are ‘explicitly anti-superstitious’. Believing that actions speak louder than words when their son was born they oddly decided to name him Kuro Neko, which means ‘Black Cat’.           

Kuro has always resented them for that. He loves them, he has either accepted or tolerated most of their quirks but never the name they saddled him with. Why should he be a living breathing reminder of his parents' claimed lack of belief in any kind of superstition? It was not fair for him; they never thought, or cared, that such a ridiculous name was going to haunt him. But he was about to change that.

Now that he was an adult he could legally change his name in the koseki, i.e. in his family register. He liked his name Kuro but the cat had to go. He repeatedly told his parents about his harassment and the ridicule he endured but they still did not give him their blessing. So, after more than a year of being given the chance to get rid of his pesky cat, he decided to apply for the name change on his own.

The last few days he got all the paperwork ready, the previous day he filed the required request to the Ministry of Justice and now, on Christmas Eve, he head out to finally file his application to the Registrar. It was a very cold day in Tokyo. Thick snow like little cotton fragments was falling in Akihabara. Kuro did not care though; he would soon be free of the bloody cat! Or so he thought...

Before going to the Registrar's office to submit his paperwork he bought his latest favorite manga from a book shop and went to his favorite maid cafe to have a coffee and read it for a while. It was 11:40 in the morning, so Akihabara's cafes had just opened. He was the first customer in the cafe which was ironically called Neko Maid. Each waitress was dressed as a cross between a maid and a cat. They wore cat tails, cat paw gloves, cat ears and maid dresses. Kuro loved cats, he just did not want one attached to his name.

Kuro soon caught the eye of Yuki. She was the waitress who first served him half a year or so ago, when he first came to this cafe with a friend of his. She knew his full name but she never made fun of him; the first time she heard it she did not even let out a single giggle, which Kuro found almost unique. He has had a crush on her ever since, but believes she is way out of his league.

“Good morning Kuro-kun, you are up somewhat early today I see. Did you finally do it? Did you change your name?”
“Not yet Yuki-chan, but I'll file the paper-work in less than an hour. I will finally get rid of the damn cat. No, er, offence.”

“None taken. I've been wearing this costume so long I must have started meowing in my sleep by now. I look ridiculous don't I?” Yuki turned around in a pirouette-like move and her cat tail was wrapped around her. Kuro blushed a bit, and when he realized it he blushed even more.

“What..? Ridic..? No.. no.. not at all! You actually look kind of cute. Really.”

“Kind of ha? I am not cute enough then, I see...” Yuki pouted, pretending she was sad. She was in a teasing mood but Kuro was too inexperienced with girls to realize it. Instead of flirting back he just blushed more.

“I am messing with you, thanks for the compliment. What shall I get you, the usual?” Yuki winked.

Kuro just nodded. He was too uncomfortable by now to even speak. He tried to get himself -and his red face- back together, but it was difficult. Then he noticed that he was no longer alone in the cafe. There was a hooded girl two tables in front of his own, who was staring at him.

She wore a weird blue robe like the one magicians wear in manga and anime. But even weirder was her face. She looked like she had applied heavy make-up and underneath it there was some blue or violet undertone.

The girl kept staring at him. Kuro looked behind him to see if there was someone else but there was no-one. Suddenly the girl stood up and started approaching him. She pulled out a wand from underneath her robe, pointed it toward Kuro and started chanting something unintelligible to him. Kuro thought the language resembled Quenya a bit, the Elvish language Tolkien created.

“What do you think you are doing weirdo? he asked her. He assumed she was a cosplayer who took her hobby a bit too seriously. The girl did not respond, she just kept chanting.
“Ni máquen! Ai mina ana verya tatimeáro! Mina rakastán tulkas!” Suddenly the purple stone at the tip of her wand started to glow.

“No... way. No way in...” was all Kuro got to say before being washed in a blinding light.