The Thirst |

The Thirst

By Daniel Newwyn

Reading time
View count
An Excerpt
Modern-day Japan

"No, Kyousuke. You don’t want to go home.”

Anywhere but home — that thought had been haunting Kyousuke ever since he walked out of his office. He had been given a forced vacation by the higher-ups, something that wasn’t not par for the course and certainly had never happened to him. Why now? He had worked fifteen years without leave; working was his second nature. The wrinkles on his face folded as he squinted at his business card with the words ‘Branch Manager’ printed on it. He took more pride showing this card to his old college friends than showing their family photo album. He heaved a sigh. Maybe his job shouldn’t have been his life.

But where to, if not at work? The middle-aged salaryman had tried, but he couldn’t keep up with those younger and more passionate colleagues. Daydreamers, all of them. They must have thought that slaving their youth away was the life they had wanted, that if they worked hard enough, they would eventually find the meaning of their existence. If only they had learned from Kyousuke, who worked like mad only to be rewarded with more work.

It was 7 PM when he stepped onto the street from his building, sober. Under the eye-aching flickers of the neon billboards, the city was unveiled in all its meaningless glamour.

It was Osaka, the city where it was easy to lie half-dead on the street and difficult to smile to strangers. It was the city of rowdy young girls in their anime costumes, of hanging lanterns drenched in the smell of Dotonbori sake and all-night partygoers, of a dust-specked book in an antique shop while the owner tried to finish it without having any page falling off. It was the city of public shaming for not having your bag matching your shoes, of shut-ins of thirty years claiming human connection was overrated, of long hours and no extra pay, of Kamagasaki's cheap internet cafes and flophouses with no permanent address where the homeless people squat in.

He looked up to the sky. Kyousuke hadn’t been able to see the stars from Nagahori Street since the skyscrapers sprouted from Osaka Business Park. It had been twenty years since then; so many things had changed. If one wished to see the stars, they could just easily take the subway to the Floating Garden Observatory. But wasn’t it better if a man was given a choice?

Instead of a sparkling night sky, Kyousuke was greeted with a giant billboard ad for Daijingo-shu sake. His hands started shaking and he started sweating.

In a split second, Kyousuke decided what he would do tonight. He started craving; there was no time to waste.

He walked into the Tamatsukuri station; the familiar, unintended taps of his black leather shoes squeaked on the concrete floor. Tonight was like every night. Salarymen like himself bustled through the station, crammed together as they packed themselves into subway cars. He squeezed himself in to occupy that five millimetres of personal space. If he couldn’t fit himself in, he would have to wait another seven minutes for another train. Seven minutes were too much to waste for a salaryman in a hurry.

Minutes, hours, years passed.

He took the left turn outside of Ogimachi station to Tenjinbashi Bar Street. The buildings were no longer fitted with the same transparent glass panels, but the cheap, efficient mimics of Shindo architecture, with thatched roofs and sliding doors slightly elevated off the ground. The bright, scarlet lanterns hanging in front of the restaurant fluttered in the wind as he picked up his pace. He soon found himself running, gasping and panting.

I need it, I need it, I need it right now.

Other entries by Daniel Newwyn

Login or register to vote
Photo of Daniel Newwyn

About Daniel Newwyn

Daniel Newwyn is an aspiring writer, a professional eSports gamer, and a translator. His works in Romance, Sci-fi, Thriller, and Humour have won a number of online awards, and are listed among the promising Undiscovered Writers of Wattpad. As of current, he is the chief content producer of insightful eSport contents such as Hearthstone Rankstar Wild Report. Daniel earned his Bachelor's Degree at the University of Sydney, and is on his way to complete his PhD in Psychology.

Connect with Daniel