That was the third time that week that the electrical company had called her, reminding her that the electrical bill payment was overdue. It wasn't that she couldn't afford it, but if she spent the money on that, then there was also the hydro bill and the rent to pay at the end of the month. In the end, would there be enough money to spend on household essentials, on food? Plus, there were school fees that she needed to pay. Sure, her parents had agreed to help with the finances, but they weren't rich either. Her mother was a waitress, her father self employed. They had themselves to worry about, their futures, their lives, and she simply could not let them worry about her finances.
The girl leaned against the pale wall of her drab apartment and slid down to the floor, running her fingers through her hair as she mentally calculated her expenses. She already worked two jobs, and while she was looking at getting a third it was simply impractical... she still had school to worry about, she needed at least a little time to work on her assignments. No matter how she looked at it, no matter how she played out the scenarios, it was impossible to work everything out and still make ends meet.
She remembered the day, eight months earlier, when she had been so excited to finally graduate and get a life on her own.
"You can always stay at home and work, dear." Her mother had told her with that smile.
But she had refused, she couldn't rely on her parents forever and she was excited to have a life of her own. It would be everything she dreamed it was, like they showed in those girly movies where the heroine had her own flashy apartment in the heart of some big, dazzling city like New York and spent her mornings at the spa, afternoons shopping, and evenings attending dinner at a fancy restaurant. She could just see it now!
"But dear," Her father had piped up, cutting into her fantasies, "Living on your own is expensive. Are you certain you can handle it?"
Of course she could, the girl replied, brushing it off like nothing. Why wouldn't she be able to? So she'd work as a waitress. She'd get tips, and live off of those while her paycheck could go towards paying the actual bills.
Oh how naive she had been. If only she had listened, hadn't spent so much, hadn't tried to live an extravagant lifestyle on what little she made. She had dug herself into a deep hole of despair and climbing back out was not going to be an easy task. Her father's words still rang in her head like a bitter wake-up call, "With independence comes responsibility."
“I can’t understand.” I wheezed, sand lining the inside of my throat.
He gestured again, and my vision was cut short. When I finally came to, my head was killing me and I found myself in a jail cell.
Honestly, I had a reason to be here… I didn’t come here just to get beat up and thrown in jail. I’m what people might call a spy, for the President of the USA. Recently the USA and Mecca had come to an agreement, a truce if you will, and to consummate this the two countries exchanged gifts. A few months later however, it was discovered that the statue we had received from Mecca had been bugged. This is where I come in – I was told to investigate the goings on in Mecca to see if this was foul play on their behalf. If so, the truce between the USA and Mecca would be abolished and a war could ensue. Nevertheless, my plans came to a grinding halt when a group of men ambushed me at the gate of the city and got a hold of my passport ( a rookie mistake on my behalf, it should have been hidden better ). This is how I found myself in jail.
I sat up and placed a hand over my aching head, the pain momentarily contorting my vision as I tried to take in my surroundings. Iron bars, dirt floor, brick walls, and some sort of cot pressed up against the wall behind me. Definitely jail. It was then that one of the guards returned to the room via the stairs on the left. In his hand I could see my wallet and passport. If they hadn’t known who I was when they caught me, they knew now.
Approaching my cell, the man proceeded to wave my wallet and passport in the air.
“Visa denied.” He said in broken English.
“Denied?!” I echoed, though in a much louder tone.
I jumped up from where I lay on the ground, forgetting the pain in my head, and grabbed the cell bars.
“This is a mistake, surely!” I exclaimed.
The man leaned in closer until our faces were mere inches apart before narrowing his eyes.
“Denied.” He sneered, before turning around and tossing my items on the desk behind him.
I watched him, wide eyed, as he took a seat at his desk… and that was that. I was about to admit defeat when I suddenly remembered,
“One free call,” I cried, “In jail you always get one free call!”
The man looked up at me with a look of disgust, but complying with my wish he tossed me an aged looking cellphone. Immediately I dialed the number of the USA Embassy and when the call finally went through ( It took several tries ) I proceeded to explain my situation to the lady.
“Well it seems your visa has expired early.” She said nonchalantly.
“Expired early? Impossible!” I exclaimed, “Do you know who I am? Do you know why I’m here?!”
“Mister Kelly, I understand your situation. We’re going to work as fast as we can to get you back into the country, but even with our best efforts it could take anywhere from three days to a week.”
“I’ll be stuck in jail for a week?!”
I had to pull the phone away from my face and take a deep breath to calm my anger. I understood that she was doing all she could to get me out of here, but still… up to a week? That was much too long! After a few more minutes our conversation ceased and I handed the phone back to the guard. The rest of the night crept by at a snail’s pace. Bread, cheese, and water for dinner, and then a hard old cot for a night rest. Needless to say it wasn’t a good one.
I was awoken the next morning by the sound of heavy footsteps trudging down the stairs.
“Great…” I mumbled groggily, “What do they want this time.”
I rolled over onto my side and sat up, rubbing my eyes as I did so. My back was killing me and the blow I had received to the head the day before was throbbing like a dull headache. Turning my attention to the noise that had torn me from my sleep, I recognized the four men who had beaten me up the day before. What I didn’t recognize, however, was the lady walking between them. She had dark, caramel colored skin, even darker hair, and eyes that looked like obsidian. She was easily the definition of beautiful. She approached my cell while the men hovered behind her and peered inward, tipping her head to the side ever so slightly as though she were inspecting an animal.
Finally she spoke, but not in a language I could understand. She tossed her words behind her to the men neatly lined up in a row. I could see expressions of hesitation and shock in their faces as they listened to the woman speak, some uttering words of their own, yet ultimately following her orders. Taking the keys from the guard’s desk, one of the men unlocked my cell and the woman proceeded to open the door and extend her hand to me. Rising from the cot, I approached her warily – I wasn’t sure who this woman was exactly but she seemed to hold a lot of authority. I could have easily taken this chance to make a run for it, I had done so multiple times beforehand and was certain I was faster than these five.
“You are Christopher Kelly, yes?”
Despite her thick accent the womans English was surprisingly clear and understandable. But I was curious,
“How do you know my name?”
“That is not important right now. You and I need to talk.” She said with a shake of her head.
“Well… can I at least know who you are?” I asked.
But she simply shook her head to that as well and proceeded to lead me out of the prison.
Now I had been expecting to leave the underground jail and step into the sandy streets of Az Zaimah. I couldn't have been more wrong had I tried, because in only a few steps I had entered a massive room adorned with blues and golds and whites and reds. Exotic archways played the part of outlines and on the opposite side of the room was a massive grand staircase leading to the upper floors of this whatever this magnificent building was. The woman - whose name I later learned was Hasina - lead me through one of the other archways which lead to a sort of atrium which housed exotic plants and trees from across the globe.
Hasina and I sat down and she proceeded to tell me that she had known I was coming, and knew why I was here. She proceeded to explain the story behind the bugged statue - according to what she knew it had been done by a member of an enemy nation who was trying to throw a wrench into the truce between the USA and Mecca. Mecca and this nation had been at war for centuries now, and they knew that they could never win should a war break out. So they had a new plan - knowing the USA could outrank Mecca any day, they tried to create a fault. And they had almost succeeded, but a few weeks after the statue had already been received the culprit had been caught and had confessed the entire deed.
"Well this is fantastic!" I exclaimed, "I've figured out what I needed to and I can't even relay the information to the President..."
That was another thing about Mecca - they were a few centuries behind in the technology department. My cellphone had already taken it's last breath and the nearest phone was miles and miles away.
Lessons Learned in Life
English Kacey Soule
May 31st, 2012
My name is Meng Yao Zhang. I was born in Beijing, China in 1934 and because of one of the bravest men I will ever have the honor of knowing not only did I survive the Japanese Biological Warfare Unit 731 and the Japanese invasion of China, but also learned a considerably important lesson for someone who had observed and attested the events I had.
I was only two when Japan began their experiments in Unit 731, located in the Pingfang District on the outskirts of Harbin, China which had fallen to the Japanese. The project was code-named Maruta meaning ‘logs’, a running joke since the official cover story of Unit 731 given to the authorities was that it was a lumber mill. It was an experiment that used humans of Chinese and Korean ethnicity as the test subjects.
Because of my young age I was unaware of the depth of the matter, I simply assumed it would be over in the blink of an eye. I should have paid more attention to my parents, to my surroundings in general. I should have found it suspicious when my father told us to begin living in the basement, when we stopped lighting the house, when our meals began consisting of a small bowl of rice because we were unable to go get food. I should have, but I didn’t and only a few weeks after I turned five my family also became ‘logs’.
I remember it as though it were yesterday. My father came home and said he had an announcement – due to ‘unforeseen circumstances’ we would be relocated to a safer area. I always did find it strange how neither my father nor my mother looked pleased to be moving, and how I swore I caught my mother crying. I never did find out what those ‘unforeseen circumstances’ were, and to this day I do not think my father did either.
It is often said that the brain has a biological mechanism that will block unwanted memories, and I can tell you this is true from what surprisingly little I remember from my time spent in Unit 731. From what I can still salvage, the next year my new home would be a cell that was shared with three other families. I don't remember their faces, their names, nor where they were from... I just remember them gradually disappearing as time passed. Eventually, I lost my mother to a vivisection without anesthesia and soon after my older brother fell victim to a test to determine how much pressure the human body could withstand before death. I still remember their faces as they were led out of the cell - they were surprisingly calm for two humans who were being lead by the hand to death's door, almost as if they had given up on the will to ever make it out of there alive.
His name was Kazuhiko Irie and he was the doctor who was supposed to end my life. This I remember crystal clear, for it was the day I had been chosen. I remember my father begging and pleading to be taken instead, but all he received was an icy glare from the young Japanese man in charge. From what I had been told as I was lead to the operating room, I was merely undergoing a routine check up to make sure I had not received any foreign illnesses from the other 'logs'. I was strapped down to the operating table and then blinded by the light above my head. Because of the strap fastened around my forehead, the only direction I could face was upwards but after what seemed like hours I heard talking - none of which I understood - which soon quickly elevated into an argument. Suddenly, a head blocked out the light and I could feel the restraints around my arms and legs being loosened before being ushered off the operating table.
I don't recall specifically what happened after this, but I do know that Doctor Irie saved me that day despite the fact that I was not Japanese and that it was going against his Government, and that he himself changed that day. We fled China and he gave me the name Yuu Irie and told me that I would be his son from now on and that I would be safe this way. It all seemed incredible to me, but I think I remember feeling thankful.
I remember him telling me the day old age finally took him, "I had never operated on a child before and when I saw you on the operating table I realized just what I was doing. Immediately I wanted to escape. Yuu, not a day goes by I don't regret what I have done, and I am unable to even begin telling you about the thousands of faces that haunt me daily. But still, I beg of you... don't live your life in contempt, it will only leave you an empty shell of who you once were. Like it did me."
Kazuhiko taught me not to hold a grudge against others because it will only leave one feeling empty and he also showed me that one can still see the right way no matter how far he has fallen, and I am thankful he did for I do not think I would have met my wife and lived long enough to have a family of my own without it. I like to not dwell on what happened in my past, for I have learned to live in the future where my happiness resides rather than the bitterness that comes with distant memories. Tomorrow is always a new day.
Genre: Slight!Smut, Romance, Crossover, Friendship, Angst
Pairing: Kyuhyun♡Seohyun, Kyuhyun♡Taeyeon, Leeteuk♡Taeyeon, Slight!Siwon♡Tiffany
Rating: NC- 17
Warnings: Graphic sexual situations and language...
Summary: After graduating from Honggik University with her boyfriend, both boasting a degree in Fashion Design, Kyuhyun reveals to Taeyeon that a month prior he had received an invitation from famous American designer Marc Jacobs himself requesting him as an apprentice but was unsure of what to make of it. Taeyeon, fully knowing that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, encourages him to take the offer despite her obvious feelings against it and the two mutually decide to break it off. Five years later after making a name for himself in America Kyuhyun decides to return to Seoul to further his success... engaged to a new woman.