Mikuchi Keitarou stood on his front doorstep, barely suppressing a yawn, his open dressing gown swaying around his bare legs and revealing a faded JAM Project t-shirt and a pair of unassuming boxer shorts. Upon his feet, he wore the most unflattering pair of fuzzy monster feet slippers whilst in his hand he held a cup of steaming black coffee, the side of the mug still emblazoned with the old academy logo.
His hair was dishevelled, his face marked by several days’ worth of stubble and, at the corner of his lips, the stub of a cigarette still smouldered.
The breeze was crisp but not uncomfortable, full of the promises of autumn and the suggestion of spring. The great London plane tree that stood at the far corner of his garden had shed crisp leaves onto the green grass and the blue skies above were cloudless and free of any suggestion of rain.
To his left, his neighbour’s station wagon was absent from the spot it had been warming all weekend, suggesting that not only was Mister Simon Dice out, but also his wife Marisa. To the right, Sean Stemmie loitered at the end of the road, avoiding school and waiting for the arrival of friends.
All over Pittsburgh, the early afternoon sun shone down on quiet houses and places of work alike, autumn illumination highlighting the everyday routines of the joyful and the sorrowful, the content and the resentful.
The day was warm, his coffee was as bitter as his sense of humour and everything was right with the world.
With another yawn, Mikuchi looked down at his watch, staring blankly at the LCD time set as the seconds clicked over perfectly, revealing the digits ’12:12:12′.
A sudden crack of lightning hit the end of the street, a peel of thunder rattling the windows in his house as a colossal silver and white train burst out of the void and tore down the street. Rails of spirit energy fell into line before it as the colossal machine shuddered to a halt, ploughing through several parked cars in the process, a chorus of mechanical alarms calling out in the wake of its motion.
With a wry smile, Mikuchi plucked the cigarette from his lips and took a sip of coffee.
“Never a dull moment,” he murmured and, with the grin still fixed to his face, began a leisurely stroll across the lawn towards the massive train.