The Anime Pulse #23 – A Bit of Self Promoting

Hello everyone and welcome to another edition of The Anime Pulse! As the title suggests, I’m using the platform to do a little bit of self-promoting for feedback purposes. In my last column, I talked about self publishing and creating your own works. I also mentioned that I was embarking on that very same venture as I had a story that I wanted to tell and just couldn’t find the right medium to tell it on.

My artistic skills are decent, but they’re not at a level to where I could make a manga. My programming skills are non-existent and while I could Photoshop my way through making a Visual Novel, I would be very limited as to what I could actually do with it. So I settled on my strength and decided to create a Light Novel instead since it, primarily, involved writing.

If you’re reading my column then you are, probably, familiar with what a Light Novel is, but in case you’re not, I will bestow upon you just a bit of information. If you’re read any kind of novel here in the United States, then you will find Light Novels to be just a bit different. These novels are aimed towards teens and young adults and are driven heavily by dialogue rather than narrative. The narrative is used here to support the dialogue, help paint a picture of a scenario, describe actions and battles, and to enhance character traits. Sure, there are many other uses, but those are the primary focuses in a Light Novel.

The root of my story is centered on time travel as it is my favorite genre of science fiction and I wanted to create a shonen-styled story based around that concept. The title of the Light Novel is called Final Hope and it’s centered around a man named Mikomi Saigo who inherits a technology company from his late father. Mikomi ends up getting shot, but right when he is about to die, he wakes up ten years in the past, retaining all of his memories. Now he looks to reshape his future to find out just who killed him.

So for this column, I have decided to unveil the first chapter. As of the time of this column, the first chapter is labeled as “Final Draft” and is considered incomplete. I probably won’t touch it again until everything is completed and I go back and make final revisions. The chapter itself is about ten pages in length so if you want to grab something to drink before diving in, then, by all means, do so! Therefore, without further adieu… here is the first chapter of Final Hope!


 

Onyx Technology Ventures was on the brink of a major announcement. They touted that there was a technological breakthrough that could forever change not only the tech world, but the world we inhabit as a whole, but you wouldn’t know that looking from the outside. Workers came and went on a seemingly average day and it painted a picture of just another day at the office, however, stepping through the doors told a different story.

Workers bustled through the rows of cubicles, file cabinets were opening and closing, phones were being answered, each little event serving a small purpose in a grander scheme like individual cogs churning away inside of a corporate machine. It’s almost as if each function was a snapshot in an overall album.

In the back of the main work area was a rather elongated room concealed behind a closed door and windows blocked by Venetian blinds. This room housed a conference to discuss this technological breakthrough.

“…and with this technology, a revolution on many fronts is coming. Our lives are about to get not just simpler, but smarter.” stated a muffled voice from within the conference room which was met by a round of applause.

After catching a tour of the inner workings of Onyx Technology Ventures, we seen a lone man, young in age, plop down in a chair behind his desk. He removed his glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose, letting out quite the audible sigh. Just then, a secretary in a black business suit holding a file in her arms approached him.

“Rough day so far?”

The young man looked up and saw her smile.

“You could say that, Alice, but this is just the beginning. There is still so much more to be done. If we’re going to deliver this technology to the world, we will have to work twice as hard as we did to develop it” said the young man.

Alice, age twenty-eight with blonde hair and blue eyes, walked over and placed the file folder down on his desk.

“Don’t work yourself to death, Mikomi. Even geniuses need a break every now and then.”

The young man was Mikomi Saigo, he stood six feet tall and sported black hair and blue eyes. He is son of Ryunosuke Saigo, the former CEO of Onyx Technology Ventures. Mikomi inherited the company from his father when he passed away, becoming its youngest CEO, but despite being twenty-four in age, he has been at the helm of the company for nearly two years and has been responsible for its rapid growth.

“Please, Alice… I’m not my father. I know my limits. Even still… I wish he could be here to see what I’ve done. He was the true genius after all. This breakthrough was his realization. I simply rearranged the pieces of the puzzle and put it all together. I guess you could say was I cleaning up the mess he left behind.”

Alice simply smiled before she spoke up once again.

“Well… after that meeting, I’m sure you wouldn’t mind a minute or two to unwind. How about I get you some tea? That should help take the edge off for a bit.”

Mikomi put his glasses back on, smiling at the same time.

“You always took good care of my father.. almost to the point where I think you spoiled him. I even remember him coming home one night and realized that you weren’t there to make him any tea. It was quite hilarious watching him try to make it himself.” said Mikomi as he sat back in his chair with a reminiscing smile.

“I’ll try not to spoil you too much then. We wouldn’t want you forgetting how to be self sufficient. In the meantime, I’ll go get you that tea.” said Alice as she shot Mikomi a wink.

Alice turned towards the door and reached for the doorknob. Right when she was about to grasp it, there was a rather loud knock, almost to the point where you could say someone pounded on it. It caught Alice off guard as she stumbled back, taking in a deep breath from the shock. Alice shook her head as she realized how silly it was to be startled by such a small thing. She laughed to herself and went to reach out for the doorknob a second time. If the loud knocks caused a stir within her, then seeing the doorknob turn on its own really caused her to take a step back.

The door swung open and there stood a man in a black business suit. He was average height and build sporting black hair that was slicked back and a pair of sunglasses that hid a just barely visible scar over his right eye. He cracked a grin as he lowered his glasses and gave Alice the once over.

“Don’t mind me, sweetheart. I’ll just let myself in”

The man approached Mikomi’s desk and took a seat. He disrespectfully kicked his feet up onto Mikomi’s desk causing flakes of dirt to fall onto the desk’s surface. Mikomi acted a bit cautious as he could tell that this was no ordinary man in front of him. The man pulled out a cigar and lit it in front of Mikomi and despite the blatant disrespect he had shown already, he had the nerve to turn toward Mikomi for approval.

“Mind if I smoke?”

It was a bit too late to ask for approval as the cigar was already lit and the room already began to smell of tobacco. After Mikomi’s only response was a silent judging glare, the man shrugged and continued to puff away on the cigar anyway.

“Who are you?”

The man laughed quietly.

“My dear, Mikomi… who I am in name is irrelevant, but who I am overall is quite important. You see, your company resides in a certain… let’s say… territory… and things in our territory, especially companies, are subject to a single man’s discretion. Your father knew of this very well and even paid large sums of money so that certain eyes would be blinded, but those days have come and gone and those eyes can see once again.”

Mikomi gritted his teeth.

“So what you’re saying is my father paid off the mafia.” said Mikomi with a stern voice.

“You catch on quite quick” said the man as he pointed his finger at Mikomi, the cigar dangling in the same hand. “Your father is no longer here and I do sympathize for your loss, but you know what they say when you have an apple tree growing in your backyard. You simply wait for the tree to bear fruit and when the time is right.. you harvest it. With that being said, we’ve watched your company with high interest for the past two years and now that you’ve made this technological breakthrough, we are very interested in acquiring it for ourselves.”

Mikomi gritted his teeth even more. He knew exactly where this was heading.

“So, in other words, you want me to abandon my father’s work… everything that I’ve learned from him… all of the late nights I spent finishing this project, and simply just hand it over to you?” asked Mikomi keeping that stern tone in his voice.

The still unnamed man burst out in laughter.

“As sharp as a knife you are, but we’re not expecting you to just hand it over. We’ll gladly pay you for your work, but it means giving up all the rights to it and losing any financial gain, but, honestly, what do you care? We’ll give you enough money to walk away from this death trap and live a very comfortable life for the rest of your days! So who cares about all the little underlings beneath you? They’re just expendable tools anyway. So what do you say, Mikomi? All you have to do is agree and you’re a made man. Take the money and run and leave those who dawdle and dance for you day in and day out to fend for themselves!”

The offer was met with silence as Mikomi folded his hands and rested his chin atop of them. Mikomi closed his eyes as the unnamed man sat there with growing interest. It appeared that Mikomi was actually thinking this over in his head.

“Mikomi..” muttered Alice

Mikomi’s eyes snapped open. All Mikomi had to do was glance over at Alice to see her looking on. She didn’t have to say another word as the look on her face said everything that needed to be said. He knew just by looking at Alice that his people were not expendable tools. His people were precious to him and there was no way he could just throw people like her away. Mikomi sat back in his chair and folded his arms and in a stern and clear voice said:

“I think you should leave.”

The man burst out in laughter as some of the ashes from his cigar fell to the floor.

“Such iron will you possess, Mikomi.” said the man. “I should remind you that either way.. whether you say yes or no.. we will win in the end so why don’t you just forget about all the red tape and just take the money. Trust me, you will be much better off that way.”

Mikomi closed his eyes and let out a heavy sigh. He then pinched the bridge of his nose as his headache was still bothering him.

“Look…” said Mikomi in a dejected voice. “My father may have caved in, but I spent my entire life watching him devote all of his time and energy to this. The missed birthdays… the missed Christmases… all of it was for this one moment… so let me say it once again…”

Mikomi stood and slammed the palms of his hands down on his desk with authority before pointing towards the door.

“Get…. Out!” said Mikomi as stern as he could.

The man stood up and grinned, the two of them were face to face, eye to eye..

“Have it your way, Mikomi. I’ll let the little canary sing for a while longer, but just remember what was said here today,”

The man took one final puff of his cigar and blew the smoke into Mikomi’s face. The man put out his cigar on the surface of Mikomi’s desk, but despite all of that, Mikomi didn’t flinch. He continued to stand his ground until the man turned and proceeded towards the door.

As the man opened the door, he stopped and looked over his shoulder.

“I’ll see you again real soon.” he said with a grin.

He walked through the door and Alice closed it behind him. Mikomi fell into his chair and let out a huge sigh as he tilted his head back and looked towards the ceiling. He was relieved that entire ordeal was over, but he still pinched the bridge of his nose and closed his eyes as his headache hadn’t subsided just yet, in fact, this whole thing made it even worse. Alice took a couple of steps towards Mikomi’s desk and clasped her hands low.

“I’m… I’m sorry, Mikomi. I should have told you sooner. I just thought….”

“It’s not your fault, Alice.” said Mikomi as he interrupted Alice. “Everyone has their secrets and I’m sure you were just looking out for me by keeping silent.”

“I… I still owe you some tea. I’ll go make it right away.”

Alice scurried out of the office as Mikomi spun around in his chair. He looked out the window of his office. Down below he could see the parking lot where all of his employees parked. He witnessed a couple of them on break chatting amongst themselves. Everyone appeared to be happy.. that there wasn’t a disgruntled employee among them. Mikomi was filled with a sense of duty that he had to do whatever it took to protect them.

“Father… Why?”

Mikomi clenched a fist and placed it on the window. He rested his forehead against his fist as he gritted his teeth knowing that he may never know the answer.

In time lapse, workers exited the building, got into their cars and and drove off. The sun moved through the sky and was soon replaced by the moon. Night had come and Mikomi was back at his desk finishing up some paperwork, an empty tea cup laid on the desk from earlier in the day. The door to his office opened and Alice stepped into the doorway.

“I’m about to head out, Mikomi. Is there anything else you need before I go?’

“No, Alice. I’m fine. Thank you for your hard work as always. We have a big day tomorrow. The press will be here and I’m going to need all the support I can get to make it through the bombardment of questions.”

Alice smiled.

“I’ll do my best” said Alice as she took a step backwards through the doorway, but stopped. “Mikomi… are you going to be alright?”

“What do you mean?”

“About earlier. You’re not afraid?”

“I’m not going to let anything happen to me. Don’t worry.”

Mikomi’s tone was certain, but Alice wasn’t buying the tough guy attitude.

“Please be careful, Mikomi”

Mikomi gave her an approving nod and she closed the door, leaving Mikomi alone in the building. Mikomi put his signature on a piece of paper before placing it into a file folder and moving it to a drawer in his desk.

“I suppose it’s time I get out of here myself”

Mikomi stood up and walked over to a coatrack in the corner of his office. He grabbed a light grey suit jacket off the rack and put it on. Mikomi checked his pockets and pulled out a set of keys before walking through the door to his office, locking it behind him.

We next see Mikomi exiting the building. As he passed by the security guard, he wished him a pleasant evening.

“You, too, Mr. Saigo” responded the security guard.

Mikomi walked through the parking lot to a row of cars. One belonged to him, others belonged to the security guards and the nighttime janitorial staff. Mikomi once again pulled the keys out of his pocket and just when he was about to insert the key into the lock on his car door…

BANG!

A gunshot echoed throughout the evening air. Mikomi’s eyes widened as he grunted in pain. A closeup of the gun is seen with smoke rising out of the barrel. The gun pulled away and we switch back to Mikomi who drops to his knees, his face falling against his car door. From behind we see blood in the center of his back indicating that the bullet pierced his abdomen. Mikomi began to breathe a bit more heavily as he turned over and leaned against his car.

Mikomi held his stomach as he closed his eyes, wincing in pain.

“MIKOMI!!”

It was Alice. She quickly ran up to Mikomi and knelt down next to him. Thankfully, she hadn’t completely left for the evening just yet. She quickly pulled out her cellphone and began to dial 9-1-1.

“Just sit still.. don’t move.. don’t talk!”

From Mikomi’s point of view, his eyes closed then opened again. The world around him began to get more and more blurry. He could hear Alice talking, but her words were becoming muffled more and more as the seconds passed.

“A.. Alice…” Mikomi thought to himself.

He closed his eyes and opened them again. The world was a smear of blurry colors. He couldn’t discern anything anymore. Although muffled, he could barely make out what Alice said.

“STAY WITH ME! MIKOMI!”

Mikomi’s eyes closed once more. There was nothing more than darkness before him. A few moments later, his eyes opened again.. his vision still blurry. He could see lights passing over his head. He looked around and saw people in green scrubs. He realized he was at the hospital and was being rushed somewhere. His hearing returned briefly.

“We need OR two prepped immediately. We have a young male with a gunshot wound through his…”

But he couldn’t hear the rest as his hearing went muffled again. His vision faded back to black for a moment. His eyes suddenly opened a few moments later. He saw doctors and nurses scrambling around him. His hearing returned briefly again.

“There’s too much blood loss! We’re losing him! We need to operate now. Get him under and get me as much Type AB as you can, we’re going to need it!” yelled one of the doctors before turning and looking at Mikomi whose vision became blurry once again.

“Dammit! NURSE!!”

Those were the last discernable words Mikomi heard. His eyes closed one final time.

There was darkness.

There was silence.

It was over.

As Mikomi laid there, the thoughts ran through his head.

“So this is the end?” thought Mikomi. “And before such an important day. Alice… I’m sorry… I promised you, but… I’m afraid I’m going to have to break that promise.”

Mikomi couldn’t think anymore. His time had come.

Just when Mikomi had lost all hope, his eyes snapped open and he sat up in bed, gasping for air!

The room was dark, but there was just enough light from a nearby window to see Mikomi sitting up in bed covered in sweat. His chest was heaving in and out as the anxiety flowed through his body. He quickly looked around the room to see if he could make out anything, but it was too dark. Then, Mikomi recalled the last memories he experienced. It was of the doctors rushing to save his life. It was then that Mikomi realized that he was still in the hospital. He reached over the side of his bed to find the call button for the nurse. He patted the sides of his bed, but couldn’t find such a button.

“Where is that button? Does this bed not come equipped with one!?”

Mikomi began to panic, but then he suddenly stopped all of his movements.

“Wait a minute… this feeling…”

It was only then he realized that he wasn’t in any pain whatsoever. Even if the doctors had fixed the damage, there would still be pain from the surgery. Mikomi pressed against his stomach and he felt completely fine. Surely there had to be a scar, he thought. Mikomi lifted his shirt and in the moonlight we could see that there wasn’t a trace of damage anywhere on his entire torso.

“What’s going on?” Mikomi said out loud and as soon as he said those words, he covered his mouth and his eyes widened.

“My voice is…”

His voice was different. It was higher pitched than normal. Was it a side effect of the anesthesia? He would like to think that, but that didn’t seem like a logical explanation to him. As he sat there in the darkness with his hands over his mouth, a door opened and light poured into the room.

“Mikomi! Get up! It’s time for school.” said the voice.

“I must be dreaming. That couldn’t possibly be…”

Mikomi recognized that voice. It was his mother. Was he at his parent’s house? Was this a dream? Mikomi couldn’t say a word. All he could do is sit there and stare at the open door, but the light that came from it allowed him to survey his surroundings. He slowly looked around and his eyes widened even more. He slowly took his hands off of his mouth and swung his legs over the side of his bed. He planted both feet firmly on the floor and stood. He looked around and instantly recognized everything. This was his room from when he was a teenager.

“A… am I dead?”

Mikomi then pinched his cheek.

“Ouch”

Realizing that this was no dream, Mikomi slowly turned and walked towards the doorway. He recognized the small hallway on the other side of it. Immediately to his left was the bathroom. To his right was the living room and around the corner from his doorway was his parent’s bedroom. He, indeed, was back in his parent’s home. Mikomi had no idea what was going on, but he knew that he couldn’t raise any suspicions just yet. After all, what would people think if he just started going around asking basic details such as the date, the time of day, and where he was?

Mikomi decided he would play along for now. It was only inevitable that all of the details would come to him if he just pretended everything was normal. Somewhere along the way he’d find a newspaper, overhear a conversation, virtually anything.

“I guess the only thing I can do for now is play along. Sooner or later, I’ll figure out just what in the hell is going on around here.” Mikomi thought to himself.

Mikomi considered this a puzzle and he decided he would try and solve it on his own. For now all he knew was that it was time to get ready for school. Mikomi turned left out of his bedroom and stepped into the bathroom. There, Mikomi stepped in front of the mirror and took a step back, bumping into the wall behind him. His eyes widened, his mouth agape at what he saw. He was the spitting image of himself when he was fourteen years old.

“This… this can’t be real.”

Mikomi slowly inched his way towards the mirror. He touched his face as he gazed at his own reflection. Just then….

“I’m afraid it is real, Mikomi.”

Mikomi’s head snapped towards the shower. There was a man standing there about six feet, three inches tall sporting medium length blonde hair, blue eyes and was wearing a white suit with a royal blue dress shirt underneath. He had with him a golden cane with a black handle. Mikomi backed up against the door and nervously reached for the handle. He was almost paralyzed with fear as the man sighed.

“Everyone has that same reaction. I’ve seen it so many times I’ve lost count.”

The man then took a seat on the edge of the bathtub.

“While fear is a natural reaction, I assure you that there’s no need for such an emotion, Mikomi. You seek answers to your questions and I am the one who can deliver them to you although I’m certain that by answering your biggest question, it will, undoubtedly, raise a greater number of questions. So… I believe the best course here is to be quite blunt about it. Mikomi Saigo…you have traveled ten years back in time. You have been given a second chance.”

Mikomi simply stood there. The look on the man’s face told that he was serious in his statement. Could this really have happened!? Did Mikomi Saigo truly travel ten years into the past!?


 

I hope you enjoyed the first chapter of my Light Novel. If you have any feedback that you wish to give, good or bad, please do not hesitate to leave a comment below or send me a message. You can reach me at joshpiedra@theouterhaven.net. Also, if you feel inclined to do so, consider following me on Twitter @PulseIn.

Until next time,

Ja ne!

About The Author

Josh Piedra

Josh (or J.J. as some have come to call him), is a long-time geek culture enthusiast with a deep passion for anime, manga and Japanese culture. Josh also has a Bachelor of Arts in Game Design and is a creative writer who has created original content for over 20 years! He is also the author of the original English light novel Final Hope.