By Amanda Cuevas Arrubarena
Copyright © Amanda Cuevas Arrubarena, 2016
All Rights Reserved
Book Cover Original Images/Illustrations by and
First Shakespir Edition
Shakespir Edition, License Notes
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your favorite ebook retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
“I’ll have sake, please.”
The murmur of people chatting blended with the tinkling of glass, the white noise disrupted only by random guffaws. The Earthly Dragon bar’s few lights hung from the ceiling, dimmed like dying stars. Kaito Arashi sat at the counter with only his drink as company, right beneath the wooden dragon head that gave the place its name. Had things gone differently half a year ago, then Kaito was sure he wouldn’t be rotting alone in this place.
His father created the hell Kaito was now living in when he chose Akira as his main successor instead of him. His sister had been his father’s favorite; she was smart, skilled in the business world, and everything his father ever wanted. Like a misunderstood hero struggling against the villains that were his father and sister, Kaito fought for a bigger part of the inheritance. However, that sad excuse of a lawyer he hired frustrated his efforts. Kaito could swear the Gods were against him.
Why must his sister always win? She brushed away his lawsuit like dust marring her Armani suit after years of facing more challenging cases. Of course, she kept his share of the inheritance. He lost his apartment in Tokyo and was forced to move to the desolate Izumo town because of her. He was condemned to suffer in this underworld while Akira lived luxuriously back at their old house in Shibuya.
Downing the liquor that burned his throat, Kaito slammed the ceramic cup on the counter, knuckles turning white from his grip.
“That arrogant witch,” he said and watched as transparent liquid filled his glass.
Kaito’s nostrils flared as he sniffed the poignant fragrance of wisteria drifting from the incense burning in the tiny shrine to his left. He gagged when it blended with the sake coating his throat. Kaito hated wisteria; Akira wore a perfume that smelled just like it. It had encompassed his childhood and was now intruding on his present, shoving memories of long walks to school and shared laughter with his sister into his mind.
Kaito gritted his teeth painfully, trying to tame the annoying nostalgia consuming his heart. If only he had not filed that lawsuit…If only he had tried harder at school and made his father proud enough to include him in his will…then Kaito was sure he would still be able to laugh with his sister.
A solitary and futureless life had been the fruit of his greed. No one else had shoved him down this road to misery.
Tch. The noise squeezed through Kaito’s teeth in frustration, and his narrowed eyes fogged with unshed tears. Kaito dragged his blunt nails against the smooth surface of the wooden counter to ground himself, scratching the burnt mark where someone must have forgotten a cigarette. Soon that mark was joined by darker blots on the wood as Kaito’s tears stained the surface. He tightened his hands into fists but failed to control the sobs wracking his body.
The eyes of the wooden dragon carved overhead looked red in the dim light, judging, condemning. The creature exhaled, baring its imposing fangs.
“Fool,” it said.
“I know,” said Kaito, defeated.
“Dishonor, misery, suffering, rejection.”
“No, I don’t want any of that,” sobbed Kaito, pressing his hands against his ears. “I can change. I can fix this.”
“Your fate is sealed. You will never change,” said the dragon.
Kaito paused, hands slowly falling back to rest on the counter. He lifted his bloodshot gaze to stare back at the ferocious statue, and his mouth fell slightly agape. “I can change.”
The beast never replied again.
Kaito sighed and slammed his cell phone shut again. That was the third unanswered call he had given Akira. He could not blame her though; her phone was probably silenced at 2:00 a.m. However, it is not as if she would have picked up even if he called at midday.
The ghost in the mirror behind the bartender returned Kaito’s gaze, looking just as lost as he felt. A man in his mid thirties with black hair grown long enough to brush his shoulders; Kaito didn’t even look presentable to go ask for Akira’s forgiveness. He had no peace offerings or money to give, only Akira’s black beaded necklace that hung over his creased shirt.
Kaito struggled to keep his eyes open. His sight blurred in and out of focus as he swayed dangerously on his stool. Hesitantly, Kaito downed his eighth shot of sake, the liquid burning a path down his throat, past his lungs, ending in his stomach. As his gray eyes met those of the dragon again, the scent of wisteria registered in his dazed mind, instantly evoking an almost perfect image of his sister.
Kaito placed a few yen on top of the counter and pocketed the courage he gained that night before he stumbled out of The Earthly Dragon and into the freezing night. Izumo was a ghost town, stormed only by Kaito’s ragged breathing as his feet tripped towards the Izumoshi Station. Shaking fingers worked the ticket machine frantically until they finally snatched the treasured ticket. Ignoring the men deteriorating against the walls, Kaito wobbled through security and began the seven-hour trip to Shibuya Station.
Amanda Cuevas Arrubarena is earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from Full Sail University. Her passion is story editing and writing for animation and family entertainment. She specializes in increasing cultural diversity, inclusion, and representation in stories.
Amanda is the current Head Writer for the video game company called Cluster Funk, which was started by Full Sail students. She has also worked as a freelance translator and is fluent in English, Spanish, and Japanese.
Amanda Cuevas Arrubarena can be reached at:
In this modernized retelling of the Japanese myth of the Yamata no Orochi, the god Susanoo takes the form of Kaito Arashi, an alcoholic man whose life went downhill after his sister took his share of their father's inheritance. Now stuck in a bar at the small town of Izumo, Kaito will have to face the eight-headed terror that keeps ruining his life before he is consumed from the inside.