The night was cold and dark and Ann pulled her thin jean jacket tighter around her body as she wrapped her arms around herself, trying to keep warm as she walked down the dark street towards the parking lot. Lights were out all around her, it was as if the entire town had suffered a power failure.
She reached the parking lot. There were no cars, which was strange. There were usually always cars parked here even during the night. Cars belonging to the locals living in this area. She turned around and lifted her head, looking up in to the leaves of some trees ahead. Something had caught her attention but now it was gone. She shrugged it off and thought to herself that it had probably just been her imagination but none the less she could not help but have the feeling of someone following her!
She had had that same feeling all evening. Her senses screaming at her. Something was watching her and she could have sworn that more than once having seen a shadow from the corner of her eyes but every time she turned around no one was there. In fact there wasn't even a single soul on the street but herself. She stopped for a brief moment as raindrops started to fall down around and on her, holding her breath as she listened intensely but was met by a deadly silence part from the wind and now the raindrops on the asphalt around her. Eventually she gave up and started to walk again.
As she kept walking her body started to get more and more nervous, her instincts screaming to her that something was wrong, but yet she could not help but feel a strong curious urge to keep on moving. She sensed that what or who ever it was had now settled down somewhere in front of her, waiting for her and she wanted to reach it at all costs.
She could feel the eyes of the creature resting on her from somewhere ahead. As she walked closer to it she could hear the funny clicking noises again that she had been hearing earlier that same evening, once more reminding her of the noises a woodpecker made.
A barely there humanoid shadow had revealed itself to her but the closer she came the more it seemed to fade. She slowed her pace and reached out her right hand in a friendly gesture and she spoke in a soothing voice as if trying to calm down a frightened child.
"Please, I am not here to harm you. Please let me see you.."
The man stood still as he tilted his head and allowed her to come just a little bit closer as she could now make out something shiny on his body, an armor of sort. She reached out both her hands, wanting to touch his shiny mask, she was so close so very close! her fingertips almost touching his shiny metallic chin when it happened.
She felt a sudden firm, tight grip and a rather harsh shake on her left shoulder, making her jump with a yelp in her seat and she opened her eyes, her heart pounding like mad as she stared in to those deep brown hazel eyes of her uncle whom was staring right back at her with a huge grin on his face. She stared at him with shock and he could not help himself and burst out in to his usual rather goofy laughter. "You know Ann... I aint that ugly!"
Ann grumbled a bit to herself, giving her uncle a bit of a glare "I was dreaming... I'd wish you hadn't woken me up from it. I.. I saw this man... He was dressed, uhmm.. A samurai of sorts! I think" She tried to remember the dream, but the more she tried to recall the mans appearance the more faded it seemed to get. She could no longer remember what he had looked like, only that it had been an outfit resembling a samurai.
She snapped out of her thoughts when she noticed her uncles eager expression. He was pointing at the window next to her seat "Quit daydreaming! Look!"
Ann turned her head and gazed out of the window. The sky outside was of a bright baby blue color with absolutely no clouds for miles. She felt her uncles hands on her skull, gently but firmly forced her head to look down and miles bellow was a sight beyond belief of pure flourishing green nature and large fields.
"Beautiful, isn't it?" He asked her.
Ann nodded "Yes it is, uncle" She paused as a lady's voice was heard over the speakers with a rough Danish accent trying, but greatly failing, to speak English with British accent.
"We will arrive at Tokyo Airport in thirty minutes. We ask all passengers to return to their seats and fasten their seatbelt when the seatbelt icon starts to blink, thank you" There was a short break before the lady voice spoke again "The captain and the rest of SAS personal hope that you all had a nice flight."
Ann leaned back into her seat just as the seat belt icon started to blink and she quickly fastened her seat belt before skipping back in to her own personal little world of daydreaming, trying to remember the appearance of that strange man and his armor from her dream but the more she tried the blacker her memory seemed to get. She had absolutely no memory left of his appearance and slowly her thoughts started to travel back in time.
Ann was a Scandinavian girl in her early twenties. She had lost her family at an early age but had been taken in by her father's best friend, Hassan. An Iranian guy whom Ann had been calling uncle since a very young age. Hassan had trained Ann in the arts of Shotokan Karate for as long as she could remember. She was now an adult however, but her love for karate had never faded. She was determined to become just as good, if not better than Hassan himself and become an international karate competitor. There was still a long way to go however. She was still only a brown belt but had already started attending local friend fight competitions at home with karate clubs from the neighboring towns and next year would be her first attending to a serious Scandinavian national competition in Copenhagen.
Hassan himself was one of the sensei's for the local Karate club back home where Ann was training. An international competition was to be held in Japan in a few weeks time and Hassan himself was to attend for it. He had invited Ann to come along as he wanted to give her an experience, a memory that would last a whole lifetime. They had already agreed that this would be her birthday and her Christmas present for this year.
They had both been invited to stay with Taro Kagoshima and his family in the city, a man whom Hassan had known for many years. They had met years ago before Ann was even born, Mr. Kagoshima was an old man in his sixties but still full of energy. He was running his own dojo, training kids and teenagers and this summer he had brought some of the kids with him to a summer vacation camp. A thing he did every year for the kids who's parents could afford to pay for it.
The camp, which mostly resembled a boy scouts camp was located on an island that was split in to two sections. One side used for military purposes. The other side consisted of a dense forest with a middle sized private owned plot at the very center owned by Mr. Kagoshima himself. The plot had once been the home of his family, until the government had arrived and turned one half of the island in to a military training facility. The local families including his own had however been allowed to stay on the other half of the island if they so wished or accept the offer from the government and get help finding an apartment in the nearest city, All families had decided to accept the offer and start a new and hopefully better life in the city. Mr. Kagoshima himself had however decided to keep his plot but still move to the city and now the old farm had been turned in to a summer camp site which he rented out to local clubs and schools and once a year used it for the students of his own dojo when the kids were on their summer break from school.
Ann and Hassan had been invited by him to arrive four weeks too early and come along and stay at the summer camp with him and his students and receive some training before going to the city for the international competition. It would save them from the expenses of a hotel room and Mr. Kagoshima knew that they would both love the nature and the daily karate training. Both had their hearts in the fine arts of karate.
Ann was staring of into nothingness as her mind had lost itself for several minutes. Hassan was looking at her with a wide smile as he gently shook his head at her. She was such a daydreamer and had totally missed out on everything he had just told her. She didn't even seem to have noticed that people had actually started to get up and leave the plane.
"Ann?.. Aaaann?!" *he snapped his fingers in front of her face and finally got her attention as she stared at him as if she had just woken up in totally unfamiliar place.
"We have arrived! I don't know about you but I don't want to stay sitting here!" He smiled, got up standing and stretched his legs before reaching up to the little cabinet above their seats and pulled out a small pink Fjällräven shoulder bag and handed it to Ann before he reached up once more and pulled out his own shoulder bag.
"Off we go" He said and reached his free hand out towards Ann and fluffed her hair lightly as he had so often done when she was little.
Ann looked up at him with a slight annoyed expression on her face but said nothing. Knowing that he meant it well despite she was no little kid anymore. She got up from her seat with one hand holding her bag the other lifted to the top of her head, straightened the hair that her uncle had so nicely messed up before leaving the plane with him and headed towards the airport building and the awaiting immigration line.
After four hours straight, an interview and two filled out and signed documents Hassan and Ann could finally leave the airport and headed towards the meeting hall where Mr. Taro Kagoshima was awaiting them. The two men greeted each other as old friends do while Ann stood a bit in the background, feeling shy for this first meeting ever with her uncles friend whom he had spoken so much about. Mr. Kagoshima approached her and with a real Western cultural manner offered her his hand and introduced himself.
"And you must be Ann, right?" He asked with an almost perfect English.
Ann blushed "Ehh, yeah..Nice to meet you too Mr. Kagoshima" She smiled at him and quickly withdrew her hand the second that he let go of it.
Understanding that the girl was just shy Mr. Kagoshima turned his attention back to Hassan and the two started to talk as they walked down the hallway towards the main entrance and the parking lot to the awaiting car. They had to drive for approximately five hours straight across the country towards the island
Ann looked out the window from the backseat of the car as they approached a dense forest, driving on an old farming road as Mr. Kagoshima explained that his camp was right at the center of this forest. The surrounding forest had been planted by humans many years ago but had been allowed to grow wild the past 20 years as no one ever came there part from himself and those he rented his plot out to, but they usually only stuck to the surrounding field around the building.
As they drove through the forest towards the camp the first few stars started to appear on the darkening sky and in the distance a building started to appear. Ann was surprised to see how western it looked, but then again, why shouldn't it? She shook her head and made up with herself that she had just seen way too many old Japanese and Chinese movies. Of course their buildings would be all modern by now in these modern times and she could not help but feel a little embarrassed about herself actually having expected to be met by a more middle aged eastern architecture than this. In fact this entire building just looked like any other boy scouts building that you could find even back in Denmark.
The car pulled up by the side of the building and as Mr. Kagoshima had stopped the engine he turned around in his seat and looked back at Ann, as Hassan was already getting out of the car himself.
"Don't be so shy miss Ann" he said with a big grin on his face before it once more turned serious. "Everyone here are men and boys but I am sure that you will start to feel right at home none the less"
He got out of the car himself and before Ann could even put her hand on the door handle he had opened the door for her and gestured in real gentleman manner for her to step out and Ann could not help but put on a smile which seemingly made Mr. Kagoshima brighten up.
"Now see, thats a good girl!"
He paused for a few minutes before he opened his mouth once more while helping Ann and Hassan getting their traveling bags out from the trunk.
"Now miss Ann, let me show you to your quarters" He pointed towards a smaller building off to the side and minutes later showed her inside. They entered a small narrow hallway. Off to the left side there was a common room and to the right side a bathroom with public showers and three toilet booths. Everything seemed old and obviously had not been used a lot for a very long time.
"I know it isn't much" Mr. Kagoshima said "But there are barely ever any girls here. Too many Japanese people are still following the old traditions and don't like their girls to go off to camps where the majority are all boys. I do have a couple of girls training at my Dojo however. A shame that so many people still like to live in the middle ages..." He then shrugged it off and went on with the introduction of the building.
"Down here are the bedrooms"
He took Ann and Hassan further down the hallway and pointed at two doors to the right. "These two leads to the girls sleeping quarters. Four beds in each room" He then took his eyes off the two doors and stepped up to the door at the farther end of the hallway.
"This is the room I had in mind for you Miss Ann, as your an adult and your the only girl here anyways. This room is meant for the female assistant, usually my wife, for the very rare occasions where there are actually girls attending this summer camp"
He handed a key to Ann "This key works for both your room here and the bathing room. Not that I think you will be in need of it, but boys will be boys. You may feel more at ease when showering if being able to lock the door"
Ann took the key and smiled at Mr. Kagoshima "Thank you" She gave him a light nod before turning around and with the key in her hand she unlocked the door before her and stepped in to a small bedroom with a single man bed, a small desk, a single chair and a small closet. She stepped up to the bed and placed her shoulder bag on the mattress and her traveling suitcase on the floor next to the bed as Mr. Kagoshima spoke once more.
"I will be off for now and you can get yourself settled in. Dinner should be ready in approximately an hour. We will eat in the mess hall of the boys building" He paused for a second before he went on with a big smile on his face "You can not miss it unless your blind!"
He and Hassan then left the bedroom and soon Ann could hear the main door open and close, she was now alone.
She sat down on the edge of the bed and looked around the tiny room. Indeed it could use some dusting off. Obviously the building wasn't attended to very often due to the lack of girl attendees. Not that it was too bad, but Ann still could not help but notice the thin layer of dust in the corners and on the window frame.
"I am going to ask for a cleaning cloth right after dinner" she mumbled to herself before grabbing the handle of her traveling suitcase, pulling it up from the floor to the mattress and opened it before she stood up and walked to the closet and opened its door and started to stack away her clothes and underwear in to the closet before reaching for her gi and belt and hung it in the closet before stroking its cloth lightly in an attempt of getting rid of the edges the cloth had taken on after several hours in a tight suitcase.
Eventually she closed the door to the closet and went back to her bed where she pulled out all the rest of her stuff, which was everything from a Nintendo DS and electricity converter to her toothbrush and shampoo.
She looked around inside the room and smiled to herself when her eyes fell upon a socket in the wall. How nice! She had hoped that this place would have prober electricity and seemingly it did. She grabbed her electricity converter and walked over to the wall with the socket and started to look through the various plugs in her converter for a plug that looked like the holes in this socket and soon she found what she was looking for and plugged the converter in to the socket before attaching the cable and her Nintendo DS to it, now it could finally charge up a bit again after she had used up all the power on it on the plane.
She then took all her bathing room accessories and walked to the bathroom where she found a sink that she claimed as her own, placing her toothbrush and shampoo on it before she made her way back to her bedroom and pulled out the very last of her remaining stuff. A book, a comic book, a little candy and her precious drawing board. The book and comic she placed on a tiny bedside table on the other side of the bed and her drawing board and pencils she placed on the desk next to her Nintendo DS.
When she was done she closed her traveling suitcase and shoulder bag, stowed them both under her bed, got up standing and walked over to the table where she sat down on the chair with a big heavy sigh as she looked at the forest view outside. Her window was facing away from the courtyard and the boys building. She leaned back into the chair with a loud yawn. This whole trip had drained her of nearly all her energy. Now all that she wanted was just to sleep, had it not been for her growling stomach, reminding her just how hungry she actually was.
She dozed off in to her own little daydreaming world and was sitting like that for a while before her stomach finally managed to snap her out of her little world and she looked around, wondering how long she had been dozing off and how long had it actually taken her to unpack all her stuff?
She shook her head lightly and finally got up standing as she made her way towards the main door of the building on her way to the dining quarters in the hope that she wasn't too much late on it.
Ann stepped outside and locked the door out of old habit before she looked around, studying her surroundings. The courtyard itself was a rather dull and boring looking place with nothing interesting to look at as it consisted of nothing other than the pebble covered ground and the scattered weeds growing here and there. But right behind the building before her, actually all around these two buildings, all part from the little country road, the view was covered by a thick dense but yet beautiful forest.
Ann wondered to herself what kind of animal life she would be able to find in this forest and being an animal lover she certainly wanted to find out. Perhaps already tomorrow? She thought to herself. Right after training! Considering that she wouldn't be too tired, of course.
Ann finally shook her head lightly and continued on her path towards the front of the bigger building and entered without bothering knocking on the door as she figured there would be no need for that.
Obviously this place was occupied by boys, a lot of boys. There were shoes everywhere, some stowed aside nicely up against the wall, others just tossed randomly on the floor. She pulled off her own sneakers and placed them nicely at one of the walls before following the noises as she walked through a rather long hallway, boys of all ages passing by her every now and then.
It did not take long for her to find the kitchen area, where she found her uncle, Mr. Kagoshima and two boys in their mid teens. All four being busy with dinner. Mr. Kagoshima turned around as he could hear the door open and smiled at Ann. "Nice to see that you could finally make it, but not to worry. As you can see we have not yet finished dinner" Ann smiled back and gave him a light nod before she turned to her uncle and joined him at the kitchen table where he was busy preparing some salad.
"Just admit it. You came this late only so that I would be stuck with this job all alone!?" He grinned and failed keeping back a light laughter. Ann rolled her eyes at him but could not help but smile at his remark as she petted him on his left shoulder before grabbing a knife to help him.
"Well admit it Hassan! It can not hurt for a man to learn how to cook" She said with a smirk and Hassan turned around and looked at her as he blinked.
"I cook a lot at home!!"
Ann could not help but laugh as she at the same time spoke. "Just kidding uncle" Hassan looked at her as his facial expression took on a smirk once more. "Ohhh, I knew that!.." He lifted his left elbow and nudged her upper arm.
"Yeah, yeah uncle" She giggled, not yet fully having gained control of her laughter but eventually she finally stopped as Hassan grabbed three big bowls and they both started to prepare the salad in to them.
With her uncle in front of her a few minutes later, Ann stepped in to the dining room, surprised to see regular tables and stools and as she placed two of the bowls of salad on the food table before scanning the entire room and caught Mr. Kagoshima's eyes.
Mr. Kagoshima walked up to Ann and looked at her with a slight worried expression. "Is everything alright? You look confused" He asked.
Ann nodded slowly. "Yeah.. I was just startled to see tables and chairs like this.. I mean.. I sort of expected things to be different here in Japan..." Mr. Kagoshima ached a brow at her before he finally understood what she meant. "Ohh silly girl! This is year 2010. You expected us to still live as in the 14th century in this part of the world, did you?"
Ann shook her head lightly. "Well no.. Not really.. I'm sorry.." Mr. Kagoshima shook his head lightly as he smiled lightly. "No harm done"
Ann turned her head and was surprised to see the long line of boys of all ages standing and awaiting their turn to grab some food from the table. She had not even heard them entering the dining room. Eventually she shrugged it off and stepped up behind the line until it was finally her turn and with some rise, chicken and salad on her plate she joined her uncle.
Listening to her uncle telling one of his childhood stories from back when he was still living in Iran, Ann started to eat. She loved his stories even though some of them had become a little boring over the years after she had been listening to them an uncountable number of times. They had both switched back to danish out of old habit.
When he was finally done with his story Ann had already finished her meal and pushed away her plate as she did her best to suppress a burp and then stood up from her chair. "Well I want to settle in for tonight" Hassan blinked at her. "Now?! But its only" He checked his wrist watch "Its only 8pm!"
Ann shrugged as she let out a yawn. But all this traveling has made me exhausted. I barely slept much on the plane" Hassan nodded in an understanding manner "Very well Ann. I will see you tomorrow then" He smiled "We are getting up at 7am. I will come over and wake you up"
Ann smiled and nodded at his words to show that she had understood. She turned around and left the dining room as she entered the long hallway once more and approached the door, jumped into her own sneakers and without bothering to tie the shoelaces she stepped outside in to the semi cool evening air
Moments later she was staring at herself in one of the mirrors in the girls bathroom, with her toothbrush still in her right hand. She looked at herself. Sometimes she hated the way that she looked. Her blue eyes, she would wish that her eyes were green and she was ready to swear that she had started to get a wrinkle bellow each eye.. Or maybe it was because she was so tired? She let out a heavy sigh and lifted her left hand, running it through her black and pink colored hair.
Her real hair color was light brown, but she always kept it dyed black with pink stripes in it. Ann was a therian and a gothpunk as she preferred calling herself. She lifted her right hand and started to brush her teeth as she was still studying her own appearance in the mirror. Her eyes moving from her lip piercing to her nose piercing and up to her ears, two earrings in each ear and she reminded herself that once she came back to Denmark, she wanted a new pair of of holes in her ears. Maybe a new pair of high heeled boots as well, so that she could appear taller than she really was. Standing only 5'7 she often felt short. Even despite most of her female friends were shorter than herself, but judging by those teenage girls down town, the new generation, she was a shortie! No matter what her friends told her, that was how she felt.
Ann stepped in to her bedroom and closed the door behind her, now dressed in a long pink sleeveless Hello Kitty sleeping dress. She placed her clothes on the chair before she walked up to her bed and pulled the bed cover aside, she had barely laid her head down on the pillow before she was fast asleep.