stories

When The Shogun Awoke - Chapter 1 - page 4

The saber made a clutter when he dropped it. He sluggishly walked back to the center of the room and shuddered with horror. "What is this place?" He swallowed his saliva. "And, me, what happened to me?" He shook his head violently. He did not want to think about it anymore. "This can't be true. This can't happen to me. To an intelligent person like me. What did I do wrong?"
He lost strength in the knees and suddenly collapsed onto the quilt on the buttocks. Using both hands he pulled violently at his hair. A gray hair fell onto the quilt and he picked it up. "It's white!" The sound which came out of his mouth was almost a scream. "A wwwhite hair!" He jumped at the saber, pulled it out of the sheath and looked into the reflexion of his face on the tin blade.
He sprang back. "Who are you?"
He pulled at his long perfectly white beard, then his sideburns, then his mustache and sat down again on the quilt. "Is this me?" Feeling wretched he began to sob. "No, no, no! I don't want to be an Urashima. It's impossible. Urashima..."
"Ah! Mr. Shogun," said the woman with a grating voice snooping at him from the half opened door. "You haven't washed your face yet. You should hurry up, or your miso soup will be cold..."
"Tell me about this paper", said Kinjiro thrusting it towards the woman. "Is it really this morning's paper? Is it really and truly March 2Oth's paper, of Taisho 11?" The woman's eyes widened behind her glasses at his fierce tone. She sighed and started to talk sitting on the edge of the floor at the entrance.
"Alright. Now that you've finally noticed, I can't hide it any more. I'll tell you everything, Mr. Shogun. Yes, you are right. It's not this morning's paper, but yesterday's. But, you know, this is a city hospital, which means we are funded by the city and so can't afford to buy a copy for you every morning. The chief-of-staff's office gets two kinds of papers and that's all. So what you get is a day-old paper from the office. It would have been too rude to tell you the truth -- you enjoy the papers so much, you read each tiny section every morning. And that's why we've been lying about the date. But, please don't be upset, Mr. Shogun. Unfortunately the money we get from the city is not enough. And ... you give us some...you know... once in a while, but that's been used for some other things."