This story contains scenes of violence, strong language, and uncomfortable situations. Please be advised.
His desk’s just a giant pile of garbage. Paper everywhere: scrunched up, ripped apart, scribbled over. A pair of scissors thrown on top – left from a time he was so excited to open up his newest Japanese toy, that he decided to rip apart cardboard with his hands rather than cut tape with the scissors. Empty pop cans and plastic bottles buoyed around in that paper sea, and spilled down down onto the laminate.
Kurt stood behind the doorframe. Every time his foot deigned to cross the threshold it darted back into place: he’d be in so much shit. He sighed and looked at the laundry basket in his arms. The socks and underwear nestled in the crevices beside the stack of neatly-folded shirts. Kurt looked at the shirt on top of the pile: large, cartoon eyes peaked over boundless swathes of floaty hair and a slender hand sticking out two fingers in a peace sign. He placed the basket gingerly on the floor.
The smell from the room – Christ, Kurt didn’t want to put a name to it. He looked at the curtains drawn over the windows inside. He was sure he wouldn’t mind. His body tensed as he wondered what would happen if he was caught traipsing about. But he was sure the room could benefit from some air circulation. He was definitely sure he wouldn’t mind.
Wasn’t like he was home or anything.
Kurt looked over his shoulder for ghosts, and when he noticed that none would stop him, he went inside.
The floor creaked at the first step he made. He began to retreat, but something stopped him. No, he was gonna to get the air flowing in this room; he was going to make sure that a person could breathe in there. He put his foot back down: the laminate wailed underneath the pressure. No matter, Kurt took slow steps across the room. He watched his feet for half-finished drawings and imported comics. Well, that was half the time: most of his time was spent tip-toeing around the fizzy drinks littered everywhere. Kurt made a mental note to chastise him once he came home.
The large curtains were a gift from mother. They used to hang from the tall windows of the sitting room in the old house. Mother had decided that instead of throwing them out, she would just gift it to a leaving child. Thanks for leaving the house, spawn, please take the baggage with you. Kurt was thinking of replacing them, but that idea was nixed when it was discovered that the heavy fabric was really good at blocking out sunlight. A little too good. Kurt pushed one aside. The rush of light almost shocked Kurt as it brightened his surroundings and the pretty colours of his brother’s belongings became instantaneously noticeable. He pulled both curtains wide open. It was still a mess – but the toys, comics, magazines, and fan paraphernalia shone like colourful surprises. Despite the rubbish, he had to admit it made him smile. He wouldn’t change a bit of it. Except for the air: he’d like it if it were a wee bit fresher. He was only able to traverse this forbidden territory with small inhalations through his mouth; he couldn’t wait to use his nostrils.
The window ledge was riddled with characters completely unknown to him. He picked each figurine off the ledge and gingerly placed them on a clear spot on the floor. Each movement disturbed the layer of dust settled on the ledge: he began to cough. Quickly, his fingers rushed to the window latch and the sudden gust of air almost shook him. The windy airs of autumn swirled in and in the light he watched the trapped dust whirl in the energized breeze.
He took a deep breath: in through his nose and audibly out his mouth. Good, that’s gotta freshen up the air a bit. He turned his head from side to side and noted that, hey, if he’s already freshening up the place a bit, maybe he should do a little dusting, and maybe he should change the bed sheets, and maybe –
“You’re in my room.”
“Augh!” Kurt jumped. He felt someone behind him and spun, but as he did his foot caught on something. He quickly lifted it and looked down: one of the small figures he had pulled off the window ledge was lying on its side. His heart paced as he bent down to pick the thing up. It was some cartoon girl(?) with a bow(?) in its hair(?) and a staff(?) in its hand(?), but the arm holding the staff-thing had clearly bent in a way it wasn’t supposed to.
“The shipping for that figure alone was $27.56. Transit took one-and-a-half months. Would you like to know the price of the figure alone?”
“It doesn’t matter, you can’t get that one anymore without paying triple the cost of retail.”
“I’m sorry, Benny. I’ll fix it for you!” Kurt looked up and tried to smile. Benny, on the other hand, betrayed no ounce of emotion. Mother gave Benny a rough time growing up: “he has his father’s looks, but none of his sparkle!” Now Kurt was looking at Benny’s face: his light blue eyes were dull. He hated to admit it, but Kurt could see where his mother was coming from. Benny was a quiet kid – unlike his father. Although, it’s hard to top a conman when it comes to sparkle. They just know how to shine.
Benny blinked and kept looking at Kurt. Kurt could feel the sweat trickle down the nape of his neck. He tried to smile again and said, “would ah – would you like me to fix it for you?”
Benny said nothing.
Kurt said nothing.
And somehow the breeze was strong enough to sway the heavy curtains around.
“First.” Benny said, Kurt’s ears perked up. “I want you to close the window, I’m pretty sure I have a ragweed allergy. I find it hard to breathe in here right now.” Kurt did as told.
“Second.” Benny slowly walked towards the door and beckoned Kurt to follow. Kurt followed like an obedient, hulking puppy with his hands stuck in his front pockets. As they finally walked outside, Benny turned around to look up at Kurt. “Don’t go into my room ever again.”
“C’mon Benny, I was just gonna let the place aerate a bit. I dunno how you can manage in that place, it’s so stuffy.”
“It doesn’t matter how I can manage, what matters is that you don’t go back in my room. Third, please fix Puka-tan for me, I don’t have the money to buy her again.”
Kurt looked at the figure in his hand: guess that’s Puka-tan. He looked back at Benny, who still had the same dull expression on his face. “Well,” Kurt turned the lilliputian-like in his hand. “Yeah, I’ll do that.”
“Fourth, I’m hungry.”
Kurt raised an eyebrow and thinned his lips, “thought you just went out.”
“Yeah,” Benny shrugged his shoulders. “I didn’t stay, they wanted to sit out on the patio.”
Kurt couldn’t stop himself from giggling. Benny’s only tanning came from staring at a computer screen too long. Kurt joked about his vampiric tendencies: he usually only left the house at night, he was skinny as twigs, his skin more translucent than tissue paper. Benny’s reaction was always a shrug: it didn’t really matter to him. Kurt wondered – for a moment – what did matter to Benny, but when he looked back down to his hand he quickly remembered.
Kurt sighed and walked toward Benny. “Okay, buddy.” He ruffled Benny’s unkempt as he passed him by, “what’cha want?”
Benny pondered for a moment until finally he said: “bibimbap.”
“Oof, we ran out of bean sprouts, I think. I’ll have to run out and get ’em. Lemme check the fridge for other stuff ‘kay.”
“‘kay,” and Kurt heard the door slam shut behind him.
Kurt slowly made his way downstairs. Kurt had made the living room his hole for things: car magazines, dozens of a crossword books, and a novel or two he’d pick up at the second-hand bookstore when the 50¢ table had something good. His hoodie was draped on the arm chair like it always was at the end of the day; he had put a towel underneath it so that the dirt wouldn’t penetrate the leather. He placed Puka-tan on the coffee table and looked at his hands: dirt, grime, and grease stained his nails and his skin.
It was hard work, but the pay was good. Heavy equipment day in and day out was nice, in a way. He did his work, clocked out, went home. He didn’t have to think about it when he got home. Sometimes, he didn’t even think about it when he was working. He liked it when he didn’t have to think. He wasn’t much of the thinking type.
He stood in front of the coffee table, wondering what he was supposed to be doing. Oh yeah, he was supposed to check up on those bean sprouts. The kitchen counter was the only thing delineating the kitchen from the rest of the main floor. A glass bowl filled with fruit had been left untouched for a week or two, Kurt knew this because neither him or Benny ate healthy. There were dishes left in the sink that both of them were too lazy to clean. He opened the fridge, yep, he had nothing. He made a mental grocery list: bean sprouts of course, beef of course, garlic, they ran out of carrots, they still had eggs – but they should buy some more. Other things he mentally checked off the list until he suddenly remembered something:
“Benny?” He called up.
“What?” Benny’s voice was muffled behind his closed door.
“I was looking around in your room, there’s a lot of garbage and recycling in there. I’m gonna go out for groceries and when I come back I want to see that stuff tidied up. I’m being serious ok?”
Kurt had to leave it at that. Benny was home: door was closed. Benny was out: door was open, but what was the point of gaining entry if there was no one to greet you. Kurt wondered when was the last time he really talked to Benny – could look at him eye to eye. He stopped himself from thinking; it was after work so why bother turning the brain on. He sighed as he walked towards the front door, picked up his keys, and left.
The air had gotten colder, Kurt quickly went back in and fetched his jacket. Fall became weirder every year, the summer stretched itself into the autumn time and the leaves were as green as ever. Still cold as hell. Kurt’s hands were in his front pockets as he began walking down the street. No point taking the car if the grocer’s was just a block away. Gas ain’t cheap in southern Ontario like it used to be. If it was ever cheap, was it ever cheap?
Commuters were still jaywalking even at this time of night. You’d think that at such a dim time they’d opt to wait at the lights, like Kurt was, but nevertheless the dipping sun and dark clothes stopped no pedestrian from trying to shave a minute or two from their commute time. Kurt stood by the light and waited for it to change.
He thought he saw something.
It must’ve been nothing.
The light changed, Kurt noticed that the old lady scooting at the previous light on her electric scooter was still crossing and cars had begun to honk at her. She gave them the middle finger. Kurt shook his head as he crossed, old people are crazy.
The bell chimed as he walked inside. The small grocers down the road was snug place. As per usual, the only person on staff was some part-time kid who was scrolling on their phone at the counter. Some college kid in pyjama pants was checking out the cracker aisle and some sickly guy was coughing out his lungs around the chocolate bars. Kurt made his way to the vegetables. He debated how much he should get and how much would inevitable be thrown away. Eh, get the usual amount. The same process was repeated to figure out how much beef would be lost to freezer burn and how long the snack cakes would last until Benny would complain about the lack of snack cakes. Kurt stood between the aisles.
He thought he saw something.
It could’ve been nothing.
He lined up behind the college kid. He was usually a patient guy, but when he saw the mound of change the kid produced from her pocket, he found his foot bouncing up and down. He wondered why he could suddenly smell a lot of hay. He reminded himself that he hadn’t had a proper weekend in a while and figured he should just sleep in on Saturday – despite his innate need to always be doing something. No, he needed a real break. He could probably coax Benny out if he promised to take him to the import shop. But he should probably see a doctor because he could really, really smell a lot of hay. And also a whiff of dung? Working himself too hard.
“Thanks, come again.”
Kurt moved up to the counter, said “hi”, and began piling up his groceries. The regularity of the beeps got Kurt zoning out. He liked this space. He liked it when he didn’t think, because thinking made him depressed. He liked it when he didn’t have to think about the job, about the payments, about the house, about Benny. He could pretend that there was absolutely nothing wrong. He could pretend everything was alright. He could pretend he didn’t see something.
But he did.
She(?) stood there with a bow(?) in her hair(?) and a staff(?) in her hand. He looked at her and blinked. That’s weird, Puka-tan looked a lot bigger and a lot less cartoony. Maybe mom was right, maybe he should’ve been more careful playing hockey when he was a kid. Now he was seeing versions of Benny’s cartoon characters out in the wild and he was pretty sure hallucinations was a very, very wrong thing to be seeing.
“Thief!” It was like a dolphin. It was like a dolphin trying to communicate with him using human language. Her brows furrowed, yet he couldn’t take her seriously because – look at that child holding a staff-thing. Come on now.
“I’m sorry,” Kurt had no idea what emotion he should be expressing at that moment.
“Hah! Sorry will not get you out of this one, Daska!” She spun her staff at his direction. Kurt blinked, he blinked, and he blinked again. He needed to the paramedics. He reached into his pocket slowly. She caught wind of his motion. “Not so fast, Daska! You’re not gonna get one over me again!”
“What?” And it went black.
Benny liked it when it was dim. It was dark out, but not dark enough. The curtains were closed and the only light came from the computer screen. The last box of snack cakes was on his bed half-empty; he should’ve texted Kurt to get more, but he figured he was probably already on his way home. He felt sleepy as usual, but the list for the upcoming season was just posted so he wanted to have a look-see before he took a nap for an hour.
He looked at news post and scrolled through the selection: ecchi, light novel, light novel, ecchi comedy, ecchi action romance, manga adaption. Golly, what an exciting season. He rolled his eyes, of course nothing of note again. He figured his friends were getting prepared in the group chat for his inevitable rant, so he best have a good one prepared.
Not a single original was planned on the – wait.
Oh it’s just a sequel – but it’s a sequel to Knight and House! Oh man, what a coincidence. Puka-tan was one of his favourite characters in that series; no one could parallel her in cuteness. Sure she was a little generic-looking, but that’s not the point. Her persistence and energy got him like no other genki girl did. He never really had a soft spot for genki girls – and it wasn’t like she was best girl or anything – but there was just something about her. Definitely, one of his favourite characters in the series. Too bad, Kurt broke his pvc figurine. Maybe they’d come out with a new one for this series.
He looked at it closer. KNIGHT AND HOUSE: GAKUEN GAIDEN. Oh, it was an alt-u spin-off. He knew he shouldn’t’ve been so excited. The group chat would probably make fun of him about this. He always went on about Knight and House, one of the best he said. One of the best. Now they were tainting his favourite series with some alternate universe everyone-is-a-high-school-student BS. He was PO’d for sure. Well, might as well take a closer look at the damage.
KNIGHT AND HOUSE comes back in this thrilling spin-off! In this universe an academy is set up in the Coast Capital for students to become Regiment Knights: wielders of the strong, magical life force known as Iki-kai. They must show their bravery through completing perilous tasks; practice their wits in dangerous games; and perform feats of courage and empathy to prove that they have what it takes to be Regiment Knights.
Kerralot and Lorraine are fourteen-years of age at the series start. Orphans for as long as they can remember, these brothers-by-bond have promised the other that they would not stop until they have both become Regiment Knights. Returning to the cast are watcher-favourites, such as Kerry, Puka, Arnolden, and many others. Their journey to knighthood will take them through the rusty roads beyond the Coast Capital into the world of Arcadia and pit them against not only violent villains, but also themselves.
God, Benny’s heart sank as he read the description. Whoever did the copywriting should be fired. Hopefully, it was just the copywriter’s fault and that wasn’t the best anyone could do for the series. Benny knew with his morbid curiosity he’d actually watch the series. He loved Knight and House – if this show was a train-wreck, he wanted to at least know why. Bye bye, one of his favourite current IPs.
He dropped into bed, he had to figure out what he was gonna do for the rest of the day. Kurt was taking long. He really was getting peckish now. If he took a nap now, Kurt would probably be home and cooking. He realized that he didn’t take out the trash and recycling like Kurt told him. Ah well, he’ll just throw out the bottles and cans after he eats. He was too tired and hungry to do it right now.
He tried to close his eyes, but he was never good at just going to sleep. Maybe the air was a little stuffy. His mind was just stuffed with nonsense, nonsense, nonsense. After several moments, he opened his eyes and was greeted by his ceiling fan. He looked at his alarm clock, barely twenty minutes had passed. He didn’t know what to do as he slumped back into his chair.
So he decided to jump on group chat.
TENNYDONO: don’t start
ICHIGOSAN458: pura did u c hte new night and house
PURARARA001: ooooo omg sorry tenny, i know how much u liked it
TENNYDONO: it’s fine i guess ill still watch it for the curiosity’s sake
ICHIGOSAN458: lol def did u see new night nad houes
DEFNO_LANDSCAPIST: The sushi bites desc was was just changed for the new Knight and House.
ICHIGOSAN458: loooooooooool how salty will it mak tenny no
DEFNO_LANDSCAPIST: Did you see it Tenny?
TENNYDONO: i just looked at it, couldn’t make me more salty if i tried.
DEFNO_LANDSCAPIST: But did you look at it just now.
Oh? Did the anime gods look down upon him and hear his cries? He went back to the Knight and House tab and refreshed the page.
KNIGHT AND HOUSE: GAKUEN GAIDEN is set in a universe where people from all across the world of Arcadia come to the Coast Capital in hopes of becoming Regiment Knights.
Kurt Griffiths is a heavy machines mechanic who spends every day toiling on construction machinery – bouncing from work site to work work site – to upkeep a comfortable-enough living situation for him and his isolated brother, Benny Collingwood. After an awkward situation where Kurt tries to talk to his brother, he goes out to get groceries – when he is suddenly sucked into the magical land of Arcadia. Mistaken by Regiment Knight hopefuls as the dastardly thief Daska, Kurt is struck down and taken to jail. Desperate, Kurt can only think of escape.
Now alone in a place he doesn’t understand, he must figure out how to survive in this new world and find a way home. A story about the self, priorities, and the ones you love, KNIGHT AND HOUSE: GAKUEN GAIDEN will let you, Benny, know how much your brother loves you. Because Benny, you know not all stories have happy endings.
Benny’s heart was pounding. What was this. What. Was this. He put his hand on his mouse, he didn’t realize his hand was shaking. Who was the sick bastard that was spying on him. He thought he heard something, Kurt? He spun around, but no hearty greeting or uncouth holler could be heard. He was only greeted with silence. He went back to the group chat.
TENNYDONO: what the fuck
ICHIGOSAN458: lol is it tat bad lemme c
DEFNO_LANDSCAPIST: Tenny, are you ok?
TENNYDONO: kurt isn’t back home
DEFNO_LANDSCAPIST: Tenny where did he go?
PURARARA001: (｡•́︿•̀｡) wats wrong?
DEFNO_LANDSCAPIST: Tenny don’t panic, just call the cops. It’s just a sicko making fun of you.
TENNYDONO: it’s been over an hour
DEFNO_LANDSCAPIST: I’m sure he’s fine, but I’ll come over just in case. Okay?
ICHIGOSAN458: wtf, wtf, tenny?// r u in danger?
PURARARA001: (;;;*_*) wats happening?!!! TENNY WAT IS IT
ICHIGOSAN458: wtf, tenny ya call teh cops ho is staking u?!
TENNYDONO: i think someone took my brother
His phone rang.
“Benny, I don’t know where I am.”