Expiry Date Side Story – Different
This is kind of what I was hoping to release in Experiment. It’s also sort of like an unreleased story called Automata (you’ll see why it’s called that in the story), but it’s got its own spin.
Note that ‘Hide’ in the story is pronounced ‘he-day’, like Hideo’s nickname in Detective Conan.
Update: Rejigged this and added details so it can stand alone.
In a galaxy far, far away, there was a race of people – the Automata - who at first seemed human but were in fact not human at all. Their planet had no atmosphere but lots of metal ore, so they adapted and gained similar properties to their greatest resource…
Haruka had been an outcast his entire life. His long dark fringe, pale skin and bony frame, which made him look like a spectre, didn’t help him much. Neither did his name, which normally got associated with girls and meant ‘far away’ – perfect for a dreamer like him.
When he was five, he started to realise he was different: his fingers were slightly more pointed than everyone else’s. It was too subtle at first so everyone believed it to be a figment of his imagination…but then rashes started appearing all over his hands, which stopped him from even doing the smallest things. No one wanted to help the ‘freaky disabled boy’, and the doctors had no clue how to stop it.
Haruka was at home, his hands bandaged tightly so that he wouldn’t itch them, when his rashes finally stopped and the skin on his hands peeled off, revealing metal underneath.
“What’s happened to me?” He shook a now silver hand in front of his mother’s face.
“I decided to not tell you until the change occurred, but you’re an Automata,” his mother told him, unveiling that she had the same thing after tugging at her wrist. The Automata were a race of aliens which were part-human, part machine which his mother had told him lots about without any particular reason…at least he knew the reason now.
As the boy panicked about how his peers would think him even more of a freak, his mother produced a pair of gloves after slipping her own back on. As Haruka slid on the pair, he realised his hands didn’t feel any different, but they looked and felt ordinary now.
Seven years later, his friend Hideaki was howling in despair in Haruka’s presence. The two were an unlikely pair, what with Haruka being short and fragile juxtaposed against Hide’s bulky, tall body, but they did everything together – including going to the doctor for Hide’s Date testing. Normally the Date developed on the skin at the age of ten, but his was too blurry at the time to determine whether it was the Date or a natural marking.
Every time Hide caught a glimpse of his Date on his arm, he lapsed into despair. He thought he’d be dead before his Date even arrived.
The assembly for the juniors took much longer than usual. This was because of the Alkahest discovery – the ability to summon weapons from nowhere.
Akira – a scientist in a dark suit with equally dark hair, and a cold stare to boot - stood at the lectern, his glasses shining in the hall lights as he declared that the Dated first-years would be offered the chance to put the Alkahest discovery into action. Kieran, a first year who was just a little too quiet and serious, was up on the stage too because he had been the person to trial it. Some of the audience members noted how Akira and Kieran looked and acted quite similarly, but never quite picked up on the fact Kieran was Akira’s son: it was something only Hide, Dawn and Haruka knew, as Kieran’s friends (+ bodyguard in Dawn’s case).
“Hide, are you going to take that offer? It would be good for you, since you’ve got no self-esteem,” Haruka muttered amongst the crowd’s noise.
“I know,” moaned Hideaki, putting his head in his hands. “What about you though? You were the one who said you’d be the bodyguard ‘cos I’m the Dated one.”
“I’m going to say no, because I can’t ever remember saying yes.”
“If you’re not getting a weapon, then I will.” Haruka mentally cursed at this comment from his friend. If Hide had a weapon, he might have a plan to kill himself with it!
Hide had gone through with the operation to associate himself with a weapon a few weeks after the assembly. Now he could produce a rifle out of nowhere and instantly reload it with his mental power. Despite this, he still had the same pessimistic outlook on everything.
Two senior bullies came for him that evening, their grins gleaming with drool like hungry lions.
“You’re one of those juniors. I’m guessing you have a weapon. Well, do you?” one spat at him, lowering his bulldog-like face so that it was level with Hide’s. “’Cos we have weapons too.” What weapons? Only the Dated would have had weapons at this point in time, and this guy wasn’t Dated…there was something the Dated exuded that allowed them to identify each other, even if their Date was out of sight.
The other bully, a lanky one who had permanent bedhead and a coat of dandruff, brought a lock cutter out of a hessian bag he was carrying. Hide produced his rifle, but he was too late. The bully who’d been handling the lock cutter smashed it into the fence behind Hide, only narrowly missing the younger boy’s shoulder.
“How come Sezarians can’t use guns but you can?” the ugly-faced bully asked him, grabbing a pair of garden shears from the bag and joining in.
But he didn’t even make contact – a blade collided with the shears before they could hit. For some reason, Haruka was at the end of the blade, his arm being the blade.
“If Hide’s allowed, Hide’s allowed,” Haruka looked back at Hide as he said this. “Because he’s Dated, you’re not.” With that, he retracted his blade and it morphed back into being his right hand.
The bully duo ran off screaming, “That kid’s a freak!”
“Well, technically I’m an alien, but that Alkahest thing just doesn’t do what I can do,” Haruka muttered as he slid a replacement glove out of his pocket and put it on. Then he continued, his brown eyes on Hideaki, “You really need to learn to stand up for yourself. That rifle won’t be of any use otherwise.”
Come two years later, Hide still hadn’t killed himself. It was amazing, when he looked back on his life and realised that.
One thing had changed over the past two years, though: he’d trained rather desperately in order to make sure Haruka didn’t need to take care of him anymore.
Now, as he brandished his rifle and shot some practice targets to show Miyano-sensei (a rather unkempt brunette catgirl as well as his teacher) how much he’d improved, he began to think that maybe he didn’t want to go just yet. He’d keep on going forward for his friends.
When his Date arrived, then he’d be ready to die.