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Writer The Yobanashi Girouette
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  • G: General Audiences
  • PG: Parental Guidance Suggested
  • PG-13: Parents Strongly Cautioned
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#1
A Cautionary Tale
The Yobanashi Girouette
Oct 7, 2017
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43
12 Mins Read
No Plagiarism!ArwCeB3MHcWEyoREMmYqposted on PENANA

Bong! Bong! Bong! Bong! Bong! Bong!copyright protection43PENANArQkJ3diZs9

The final stroke of 6 o’clock saw a solitary figure trudging through the snowy streets of Ikebukuro, softly illuminated by the odd flickering streetlamp that he passed.  Clad in a grey suit with the collar turned up in an attempt to ward off the cold, an old fedora of the same colour pulled low upon his brow, and with a shiny black briefcase in his left hand, he was the very picture of a man of business. copyright protection43PENANAp3AWGOxKBf

Although the winter solstice was nearly come, and the nights came earlier and fell thicker, the man did not squint nor fumble at the darkness.  He had been this way a thousand times, and could have walked it blindfolded. copyright protection43PENANAWyTuWK9I77

However, this cold Thursday night was different from the other days of the year.  This night marked a singular anniversary for the man, symbolizing that he had lived on this earth for now half a century (and he looked every hour of it too!). copyright protection43PENANA9zYti1HA1a

Not that he cared.copyright protection43PENANAJqekmU9UEK

A birthday is a singular event that, despite in itself meaning very little, and being a holiday celebrated only by a small crowd of friends and family, is often celebrated with all the enthusiasm and good will befitting of the best of holidays.  As such, this day of celebration should be spent with that small group that is responsible for truly making the day the festive occasion it is.copyright protection43PENANA9Bi36eOfXW

Not that he cared. copyright protection43PENANAn6vmANoiop

Barnaby Frost was his name, nor was it the only thing cold and bleak about him.  “A man of business” summed up his work ethic, his mannerisms, and even his home life.  When he was not at the office, at which he promptly arrived at no later than 6:15 each morning, he was at home working, or in transit between the two. copyright protection43PENANAs7PGrbBA6g

The idea of separating profession from pastime was foreign to him; to Barnaby, his was both.  He was not married, nor had he any immediate family still living.  He was not known to frequent any social clubs, bars, or even most stores, his life being governed by the all-consuming goal of efficiency; He went to the gym and ate healthily to avoid hospital visits.  His house was a cheap, single-floor affair with an unfinished basement that he purchased because it was within walking distance of the office.  He owned no car to spare him having to keep it maintained and insured.  He ate at restaurants to save time, and although not the inventor, Frost could be considered the most avid disciple of the “working lunch”.copyright protection43PENANAkfRDjYS7dQ

Walking very alone in life and on the sidewalk, Barnaby turned off onto a forest path.  Although less-used and less-lighted, the path was a shortcut to his house, so he always took it.  It was a quiet place, to say the least, and especially in this season, few traveled it.  The new-fallen snow coated the ground like a down comforter, unsoiled by footprints, and to both sides the pine trees along the path blazed out in valiant green, as if throwing a challenge to Winter that they would not repose like the rest of nature in the season. copyright protection43PENANA4BWzXxnlPL

Altogether, it could be called picturesque, but Frost cared not a whit, and did not even raise his eyes to glance at the surrounding scenery.  Ever since he had entered the forest, he had felt what could only be described as a presence behind him.  It started out as a kind of itching in the nape of the neck, which grew into a prickling of his hairs as he imagined that he heart faint footsteps behind him, keeping perfect synch with his. copyright protection43PENANAKhTAYlMzVS

It should be clarified that Barnaby Frost was in no way a superstitious man.  He did not believe in ghosts, luck, God, professional wrestling, aliens, global warming, or human goodness, to name a few.  Indeed, he was what most would call suspicious.  Should aliens invade the earth, he would be the first to ask what movie was being filmed, and if the Son of Man descended in front of him, he would have promptly checked his prescriptions. copyright protection43PENANAPg7HUrFMyT

His first instinct was that someone knew him for a disbelieving man, and had taken to playing a prank on him to frighten him.  However, it took only a few seconds for Barnaby to recollect that he had no friends, and no colleagues that would attempt such a stunt, so his next assumption was that a mugger had decided to size him up. copyright protection43PENANACDvzcs6AOV

With that in mind, Frost slowly reached into his coat pocket, feeling for his Taser, and prepared to turn around.  As mentioned before, Frost was a very suspicious man, and for that reason always carried the appropriate self-defence precautions with him, although he had yet to put it to any use.  Steeling himself, he looked over his shoulder slowly, and beheld an unusual sight. copyright protection43PENANAlydf9cAVLv

Following three or four paces behind him on either side walked a young boy and girl, very fair with blonde hair and blue eyes, so identical as to be twins.  The both kept perfect pace with each other and with him, so that their footfalls were in synch with his.  Further, they seemed to be extraordinarily light on their feet, for he noticed that unlike himself, they left no footprints behind in the snow. copyright protection43PENANANBMVjGmZtV

However, that was not the strangest part of the two.  Both of them looked as if they had come straight out of a book, for they were clad in Victorian era clothing, she in a flowing dress with red ribbons, and he in a top-hat and suit, coattails and all.  They stood on either side of him, with their eyes fixed straight ahead, showing him seemingly no concern whatsoever. copyright protection43PENANAS5ynELQLlE

Irritated at his misplaced concern, he shoved the Taser back in his pocket and resolved to ignore the two for the rest of the walk.  However, even as he thought this, he became aware that the twins were now walking directly beside him. copyright protection43PENANAHHdVWn7wiT

Somewhat irked, Barnaby turned to say something to the boy on his right, only to find that the boy was staring at him intently, a ghost of a smile on his face.  Unnerved by the boy’s piercing gaze, he sought to break the silence, but as soon as he opened his mouth to speak, the boy spoke first.copyright protection43PENANA25vP0OwnNZ

“Mister, why are you walking out here in the snow, I wonder?”  He asked, giving a little grincopyright protection43PENANAiG5R4KCUvX

“I wonder!” echoed the girl on the other sidecopyright protection43PENANAzcEN8Baf8t

“That’s my question” Barnaby answered, gruffly.  “Kids like you shouldn’t be out late at night.”copyright protection43PENANA8byD0zswXf

“It’s okay Mister, you’re here, right?” Responded the boy.copyright protection43PENANAwfWB60lJVR

“Right?” echoed the girlcopyright protection43PENANAGv4ljcXtr5

Frost muttered something and sped up his walking, trying to shake the two off, but they continued to match his pace perfectly. copyright protection43PENANAWAgveg5GN2

“Hey Mister, it’s your birthday today, isn’t it?” The boy said, grinning and moving a little closer to Barnaby.copyright protection43PENANAWkiSVpTh8O

“Happy Birthday!  Happy Birthday!” sang the sister, also moving in.copyright protection43PENANA8PkdaDp87R

“So what if it is?” he muttered, feeling a little uncomfortable about the two.  “Why, do I know you?”copyright protection43PENANAd3rtzGKEmy

“You don’t know us…” The boy said, accentuating the final wordcopyright protection43PENANAHjSZcOo65w

“…and we don’t know you” the girl finished.  The two looked at each other gave a little giggle.copyright protection43PENANAUelfrwSREZ

“So Mister, are you celebrating your birthday with anyone?” The boy said, moving in closer.copyright protection43PENANAIR3alCQ6hd

“Are you heading to a party now?” The girl said, blue eyes twinkling as she also moved closer.copyright protection43PENANAEYwxXJlmPq

“Rubbish” Barnaby snorted.  “What’s a birthday, other than a milestone in days accumulated?  Compared to the other holidays, a birthday is nothing but a childish custom celebrated by only the few people around the recipient.”copyright protection43PENANASKFeZ6KSYp

“Not that you celebrate any of the other holidays” The boy said, staring at him with his piercing blue eyes.copyright protection43PENANARGhVQDyGJP

“Even though 50 is such a pretty number…” The girl said, shaking her head in mock disapproval.copyright protection43PENANAToOqVMag8Z

Once again, Barnaby was caught off guard.  “How did you…” He began.  “Have I met you two before after all?” copyright protection43PENANAH0KmfJt0Cr

“I wonder!” the twins said at the same time, after which they turned and giggled at each other again, as if amused by their own synchronism. copyright protection43PENANApt7HpYkXE3

“You wonder at why I don’t celebrate the holidays?  Frost asked, ignoring the twins’ abnormal behavior “They’re all based on events I don’t care about, commercialized so companies can make money off your parents.  I’d bet you two don’t even care about the real meaning behind them any more than I do.  You just look forward to the presents.” copyright protection43PENANAMyrBZnn9Dw

It should be noted that Barnaby was in no way a talkative man, and for him to speak this much about a subject unrelated to business was highly irregular.  The fact is, some irrational fear was grating at the back of his consciousness, and he was trying to drown in in conversation.copyright protection43PENANA9kxTGMDaMf

“You used to be the same way too, you know” The boy said, flashing a smile that sent chills down Barnaby’s spinecopyright protection43PENANABbJJS8Hd5m

“You always used to cherish your gifts.  I wonder what you did with them, I wonder?”  The girl said, staring at him quizzicallycopyright protection43PENANAhSVJuU6R4J

“I threw them away, of course.”  Said Frost, once again unsettled by the fact that they kept acting on such familiar terms.  “That was before I was an adult too.  I realized well before the other kids my age how useless toys and games were, and spent my time studying.  That’s what made me the man I am today!”copyright protection43PENANAod3V7KHKUt

A shadow seemed to pass over the twins’ faces, and Frost noticed it.copyright protection43PENANA0vFKfySWLY

“I’m sure the man you are today is a very happy man, then?” the boy said, stepping a little closer, to the point that they were touching.copyright protection43PENANAj2ReLl9Rdd

“You always did leave behind what didn’t help you move ahead, didn’t you?”  The girl said, also moving next to him.copyright protection43PENANABBrFwypdjk

A small voice inside Frost was crying out to him that something was amiss.  A little itch, but almost too a feeling of…nostalgia?  Had he truly met these two before? Considering their age, it couldn’t have been that long ago.  So why, then, did they seem to know so much about him, even from his long-forgotten childhood? copyright protection43PENANAHkQm45VX2H

He looked down at the two on either side of him.  He hadn’t noticed it before, but each had one of their eyes covered by hair, but on opposite sides.  Once again, some little voice cried out inside him to remember, but he dismissed it.  After all, he was a practical man.   What difference did it make if he had met them before? copyright protection43PENANAVlJNzv8Jnm

“Hey Mister, it’s really dark, isn’t it?” the boy said, looking up at him.copyright protection43PENANAWZXnEuW4Hf

“Scary! Scary!” the girl said, giggling quietlycopyright protection43PENANAopzeMDkHAm

The two held onto his arms, as if afraid of the surrounding gloom.copyright protection43PENANAowH8jhEs01

“Let go of me!” Barnaby insisted, trying to shake them off.  “There’s nothing to be scared of!  My house is just at the end of this path…”copyright protection43PENANAOX0MlFghJY

Something tugged at the back of his consciousness.  How long had he been walking?  Shouldn’t he have made it home already?  He glanced at his watch, but it was not moving.copyright protection43PENANAw7n6m9KGRl

“Useless rubbish!” he said, tearing it off and throwing it into a snowbank. copyright protection43PENANA2gRKob12D2

“Hey Mister, that’s no good!” The boy said, grabbing on tighter to his arm.copyright protection43PENANA4sZ5ekKuCt

“No good!  No good!” The girl repeated, shaking her head.copyright protection43PENANAt9BQfX0ZDS

“Haven’t you ever heard of Tsukumogami?” The boy saidcopyright protection43PENANAlG8dqwosz2

“Haven’t you?  Haven’t you?” the girl repeatedcopyright protection43PENANAuDuuJJPter

“Never” Said Frost, trying to shake the boy loose. copyright protection43PENANAXHAzyQwyQa

“Tsukumogami is an old legend that when objects are thrown away before they’re broken, they come alive for their remaining life.”  The boy said, stopping and fixing the man with a cold glarecopyright protection43PENANAqbQyoh5NJE

“That watch still had a long life ahead of it.” The girl said, also stopping and glaringcopyright protection43PENANAPdikI14xvi

“When something is broken, you throw it away!” Barnaby said, trying to shake the two free, as an unprecedented sense of apprehension rose over him.copyright protection43PENANAZt0z2ypz7g

“That’s right, you always thought that way, didn’t you.”  The boy saidcopyright protection43PENANAKyrB7PScCC

“You never changed, did you?” The girl continued, as they both let go and stepped away from him.copyright protection43PENANARsPaMycQ5H

“For the love of…”  Frost started.  “Do I know you two or not?  Why do you apparently know so much about me?”copyright protection43PENANA94b9EeH4OP

“I wonder.” Said the boycopyright protection43PENANAkynMauB3He

“Wonder!  Wonder!” echoed the girl, and the both giggled mirthlessly.copyright protection43PENANAFzHvJu3Vl9

“So let me ask you” The boy continued, advancing on Frost again with a strange gleam in his eye. “Are you broken as well?  Who are you benefiting?  How long until you are thrown out?”copyright protection43PENANADudPES3mXR

“What are you…?” Frost started, backing away, only to bump into the girl. copyright protection43PENANAbhqy3B3FEL

“I guess the only way to see is to throw you out, and see if you come alive again!”  The girl said from behind him, flashing a malicious grin.copyright protection43PENANAUjkBP36SZr

The boy grinned, and slowly advanced toward the man, his blue eye shining.  An overwhelming wave of fear rolled over Barnaby, and he dove his hands into his pocket, searching for his Taser.  “Where did I…” he stammered, stepping back again.copyright protection43PENANA1DWfsA7vX4

“I’ve foooooound it!” a voice from behind him whispered, and he felt a little hand hold something to his neck.  He felt a jolt, and then…darkness.copyright protection43PENANAn8mOHqpL54

Somewhere in the back of his mind, a small fragment of a memory awoke.  A young boy receiving two dolls for his birthday, dolls that had been old long before he was born.  The boy sharing joy and tears with them, celebrating his lonely, friendless birthdays with them.  “Let’s be friends forever!”  The little boy said, hugging his dolls as the memory faded.  Where had that happy little boy gone?copyright protection43PENANAw0oRCdVI5U

The next day was warm and bright, as if putting on an extra effort so that people would forget the night had ever existed.  Bundled up in warm clothes, a mother and daughter walked down the same forest path that the man had walked the night before.  Frolicking in the snow, the little girl noticed something at the foot of a tree.  Running over to examine it, she found an old, grey-haired doll in a suit. copyright protection43PENANAa6x6mZHuvE

“What have you found now, Ida?”  The mother said, walking up behind her and brushing the snow off her jacket.copyright protection43PENANAzSNVHum7gs

“Look mom, a little doll!”  The girl said, presenting it to her mother with a warm smile.copyright protection43PENANAbMszE5MzNR

“That doll looks pretty old to me.”  The mother said, shaking her head.  “Someone probably threw it away, you should put it back.”copyright protection43PENANAtYY15l1MPw

“But I feel sorry for him!”  The little girl said, hugging it.  “He’s probably sad that he was thrown away.”copyright protection43PENANAropfk6KGd0

The mother smiled, and kissed her daughter on the forehead.  “All right, but you take good care of him, then.”copyright protection43PENANA8pNBYrGL0u

“I will!”  The little girl said, looking at the doll.  “Let’s be friends forever!”copyright protection43PENANACusBvxWwkM

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