The high grass was brown and brittle with the onset of autumn; Naota’s breath came out in whispy white puffs of air. He lay prone in the grass next to Haruko, guns poised and ready to fire.
“Ta-kun, we’re surrounded,” said Haruko.
“It’s a full scale attack. They’ve got snipers, too!”
“Snipers are always so annoying, you know?”
“If we move, they’ll fire.”
“But we gotta do something.”
Naota took Haruko’s gun sat up on his knees. “You’re right,” he said with resolve. “I’ll draw their fire. It’s dangerous, so–”
“That’s the idea!” Haruko cried out. Naota’s jaw dropped. “This is your final battle. Go and die to prove that you love me!” And before Naota could react, Haruko kicked him hard in the ass, propelling him forward from his awkward stance, into dangers unknown.
The day before was when it all started. Naota sat at the kitchen table with his grandfather watching some old shoot-em-up movie. Someone’s brother was dying, a flock of pidgeons obscured the scene depicting the pair’s last words when Haruko screamed. Neither Naota nor Grandpa noticed, until Naota’s father, Kamon, came crashing through the kitchen door and into the television.
“Hey, what are you doing?” cried Naota. He had been growing increasingly weary of his father since Haruko had come to live with them. It was like the more daffy Kamon went over Haruko, the more immature and crazy he became. Increasingly, Naota had begun to feel like the head of the family. Even Grandpa seemed almost like a ghost, there but silent.
“Haruko-chan! Play nice now,” Kamon implored.
Naota looked through the broken door at Haruko, who weilded a BB gun pointed directly at Kamon. “Never in a million years will you get anything from me but an ass full of lead, compadre!”
“Ow! Ow! Ow!” Kamon cried out as a shower of BB bullets pelted him in the back, legs, and – of course – ass. “Why so cruel, Haruko-chan?”
Kanti, meanwhile, stood at the sink doing dishes in a frilly white apron that had once belonged to Naota’s mother. He’s the only one who does anything useful around here, Naota said to himself. Quiet, obedient, hard working. The robot’s the only one who does anything at all around here.
“What’s with the jacket?” Naota asked his father.
“Ah, this red jacket you mean?” Kamon crooned. “Why? Do you prefer the green one, Naota-kun? Hm, hm? You like the other version, huh? The ‘Castle of Caliostro’ version, huh? When did you become such a hotshot preppy type? Anyway, Monkey-sensei prefers the red one, you know! No matter what he says now, we can’t do anything about it… Hey! Where are you going!?! Naota-kun! Naota-kun!”
But Naota wasn’t listening. He walked out of the kitchen and down the hall, enjoying the stolen feeling of solitude in the dark as he thumped up the steps and into his room. As he threw his bedroom door open, he took a breath, ready to lay into Haruko if she was there. And she was — in nothing but a towel, perhaps readying herself for a bath, holding the cat, Miyu-Miyu up in the air and wiggling this way and that, talking to it: “What!?! You’re saying I have personal feelings for him? I don’t think so! Well, the reason this mission has been delayed is because the channel to N.O. is still open. It’s not about liking or disliking.” She paused and shook the cat. “Damn! The connection is dead!” She tossed the cat into Naota’s swivel chair and turned toward the door. “Oh!” she said, her tone changing from angry to innocent and bubbly. “Were you listening?”
Naota sighed and closed the door, his face flushed. “Why don’t you put on some clothes?” he said. “Is someone in here?”
Haruko smiled mischeviously.
“What?” Naota demanded.
Haruko picked the BB gun up from on top of the dresser and pointed it at him.
“What are you doing?!” Naota demanded.
She pelted him with bullets, laughing maniacally. Naota turned away from the bullet spray and cried out in pain. “Okay, okay! Geez! Cut it out!”
Still laughing, Haruko tossed the gun onto the top bunk of the bed and grabbed Naota by his shirt collar. She shoved him over toward the bed, where he sat down and glared at her.
“It’s dangerous to go waving that thing around,” Naota said.
Haruko smiled and leaned in toward Naota. He laid down to avoid getting too close to her. She weaseled her way into his personal space until she was hovering above him on her hands and knees, still covered by nothing but a towel. She put her forehead against his and said, “Use your guitar again. One more time, Ta-kun. Ka-king? You did it so great last time.”
He looked away from her defiantly, focusing on the wall paper, trying to forget the burning heat rising in his cheeks. “Not interested.”
Haruko giggled. “I should teach you how to be a man, Ta-kun.”
Naota turned toward her in a fit, his boyish features twisted in a rage unbecoming of his youth. “Yeah, like you’d know!”
And then, he felt it. That feeling again, the swelling, hot, unnatural feeling he always felt when something was going to pop out of his head. He felt the new protrusion push his head upward suddenly, and Haruko had to jump back to avoid being headbutted. And then it grew again, and again, jolting his whole upper body up toward Haruko until the back of her head hit the bottom of the upper bunk, and Naota’s lips were pressed firmly against hers.
They hadn’t noticed the door open. But Haruko noticed Kamon in the door way out of the corner of her eye. “Yeah, Ta-kun!” she purred, hamming it up for the sake of Kamon, who was turning several shades of anger, envy, jealousy, and rage. “That’s more like it!”
“No!” Naota protested. “The horn! It was the horn!”
“Ooh,” Haruko continued, “my first kiss!”
“Liar,” Naota spat. “You’ve done it plenty of times and you know it.”
Kamon finally cried out from the door way. “Naota-kun!” he said. “I can’t forgive you. You were making out and doing perverted things behind your own father’s back!”
“That’s not true!” Naota protested. “You don’t know what you’re–” But Kamon produced his own BB gun from his waist band and popped Naota in the forehead with a single BB with surprising accuracy.
“Right! We will have a duel of honor. We must have a battle for Haruko-san!”
Haruko piped in, raising her hand. “I’m in for it!”
Right, so. Here’s the beginning of Brittle Bullet, an episode of FLCL which, by the way, is just as crazy and insane as it sounds. I had a blast writing this, and I’m looking forward to writing more of the same in the future. What I really like about writing an already existing cartoon is the fact that I already have dialog, and a solid depiction of what I’m going to be writing. From there, it’s a matter of filling in the blanks the dialogue leaves behind. FLCL is crazy in the kind of way that can only be accurately conveyed through a visual medium, so I cut out a part here and there to make things a little more fluid. But I think this reads almost as well as the cartoon watches, which is what I was aiming for. I’m looking forward to writing more of the same! Maybe a scene from Cowboy Bebop?? I want to write a certain scene from Howl’s Moving Castle using only the script, too. I’m really loving this. I don’t care whether it’s half-assed or not, it’s a good work out. Kind of like immitating the masters in Art class. Mimicry is the hightest form of flattery, or something like that.
And, I will be finishing Brittle Bullet. Soon. For sure. Because it’s awesome.