In the Akamaru Meat Processing Factory in Hachioji, Shikayo Kitahara noticed “something” underneath the shelves of imported beef in the defrosting chamber, and she reflexively stopped in her tracks. Something resembling a ball of black fur was on the ground. She had a bad feeling about this. Could it be…a rat?! She timidly poked it with the tip of her shoe, but she found that it neither moved nor was it soft… It was frozen. Here, meat was imported frozen and only thawed in this chamber when needed. If this lump of fur was frozen, then it was likely that it was brought to the defrosting chamber along with the meat.
Several years ago, a frozen rat was discovered inside a box of imported frozen beef brought to this factory, causing a huge uproar. When a claim was filed against the importer protested, “Our management is water-tight. If a rat managed to get mixed in, then it had to be during transportation. By that point, it was no longer our responsibility,” and refused to acknowledge that they had allowed a rat to get in. The meat had been transported in a container so there was hardly anywhere a rat could have possibly snuck instead. Yet despite how outrageous their claim was, the factory had to bitterly accept this excuse and Shikayo, the one who first discovered the rat, was scolded by her boss as the bad guy. Well, she had never gotten along with her boss, who even knew that she was being teased, having others joke that she should’ve taken advantage of the rat and used it as soup stock.
Shikayo recalled that they had gotten a new client last week. The lettering on the cardboard boxes containing the meat had changed. Perhaps there really were some issues with the previous client’s storage management. Oh, but if a rat did get mixed in with the goods, then not only would she need to re-examine everything but she would also need to dispose of all of today’s material. And she would be reprimanded again…
She took a quick glance of her surroundings, but there didn’t appear to be anyone else besides her in the defrosting chamber. She quickly slipped the frozen rat into the pocket of her plastic apron and left the chamber, feigning ignorance.
She bumped into a peer—the 45-year-old Yoshie—outside the defrosting chamber. Shikayo was worried that her sneaky behavior might have been seen. Her body flinched.
Yoshie continued, <You weren’t in the processing room, so I was wondering where you went.>
<We didn’t have enough so I was going to grab some defrosted ones, but then I suddenly got the urge to go to the bathroom.> Shikayo explained and embarrassedly lowered her head as she rushed out.
Shikayo changed out of her gown and took off her cap, mask, and apron. She kept her gloves on as she rummaged through her pocket. She quickly took the creature out and ran towards the bathroom. Her heart was beating as she slowly opened her hand inside one of the stalls. The animal’s body was about 12-3 cm with a tail about 5 cm long. Rats were usually gray, but this one looked brown. Wait, she thought to herself. This rat’s legs look weird. It had talons, and upon closer inspection, it even had something resembling wings.
A bat! She had a eureka moment. It was a bat she had found. Bats weren’t scavengers, and if she had to say, they were closer to birds than rats, making them rather clean creatures. She was relieved.
A majority of the meat processed in this factory was to be minced and packaged as premade hamburger patties—the type you can cook either by boiling the meat in its package or microwaving it. You couldn’t do this with ham, but since this meat was cooked before shipping out, it should be fine, or so Shikayo decided herself.
In any case, why was there a bat mixed up among the beef? Then she suddenly recalled. Bats sucked blood from other animals.
This bat most likely was mixed in along with the beef and traveled far across the ocean from America. Still, this must be a very dumb bat to get frozen along with a bunch of meat.
What should she do about this then…? She debated with herself, but in the end, she decided to just toss the frozen bat into the garbage next to the bathroom sink. She believed that since it was dead, it wouldn’t matter if she threw it away.
Feeling refreshed, Shikayo returned to the processing room when Yoshie said, <You took a while. Are you okay? Are you feeling sick anywhere?>
Shikayo shrugged her shoulders and replied, <I’m fine. My stomach just hurt a bit.>
She enthusiastically gripped her knife by the table where new frozen meat was waiting for her. She began separating the tendons and cartilage from the meat with experienced hands.
<Hey, Yoshie, bats are like birds, right?> she suddenly asked.
Yoshie, standing next to Shikayo, tilted her head with her knife in her hand. <Bats are bats, no? Why are you asking all of a sudden?>
Shikayo laughed. <My child asked me about it yesterday.>
And from that moment onward, Shikayo forgot about the bat she tossed in the bathroom garbage.
A garbage bin fell over and next to it was Albert Irving, completely naked and on all fours on the tile floor. Crumbled balls of paper towels were scattered around him.
Albert, nicknamed Al, shook his head, his short chestnut-brown hair flapping side to side. He had finally completely thawed, but it was just his luck to be inside a garbage bin. Moreover, the moment he thawed, he turned into a human, leading to him bursting out of the garbage.
His surroundings were dark, which meant that it was probably nighttime. His body shivered. The temperature of nights at the beginning of October usually dropped dramatically. It was also only natural for him to feel cold because he had no clothes on, but he also felt that this was several times colder than it had been yesterday or the day before yesterday.
Al picked up the faint scent of ammonia around him and furrowed his brow. This peculiar smell was very reminiscent of a bathroom. He spotted a toilet in one of the opened stall doors farther inside, although the seat was rather low. He was only frozen, so he was confused as to why he was thrown away in the bathroom garbage. But firstly, he wanted to know exactly where he was. He could smell beef, but the smell of spices and disinfections was stronger. His previous location, Jean’s Meat Processing Plant, smelled more strongly of meat and blood and included the scents of dirt and grass.
In the first place, how long had he been frozen? Thinking about it, he was probably stored, frozen in a freezer, for a long time, possibly 2-3 weeks based on the season. However, that didn’t mean much to him. The more pressing issues were his lack of clothes and his empty stomach. He had to wear something if he was going to leave here. He could also wait until daybreak to turn back into a bat, but here or all places? He didn’t want that. He could feel the stench of ammonia seeping into his skin.
Al slowly got up and lightly stretched his arms and legs. He was put through the wringer and back before getting here. His place of residence was in Jean’s Meat Processing Plant, which was a rather convenient place for him to live in. While the commercialization and mechanization of dairy and meat processing had been advancing, Jean had continued to run his business and plant the old-fashioned way. His employees were all, funnily enough, related to him: his brother, uncles, and cousins. As for the sanitary conditions… well, they were sketchy from what Al could see. He was a bit concerned, but on the same token, this allowed him to procure some food.
The cows brought to the plant were knocked unconscious with a captive bolt pistol before they had their throats or blood vessels cut to bleed out. Since the cows needed to bleed to death, it was quite a gruesome sight. Furthermore, the cows were skinned, and their reflex action was stimulated when their body was hung up. Even though it was involuntary, it was still dangerous if their feet hit anyone, so a wire was run through their spine from their forehead to stop their movements. Once that sequence of steps was completed, the employees focused on the cow. They became too busy to notice a single bat sneaking inside the plant and desperately lapping up the cows’ dripping blood. Although Al, lured by the blood of the cows bleeding out to death, would eventually be driven away.
One day, Al overslept and was late to arrive on time. The cows were already slaughtered and stored in the freezer, and the employees were in the middle of cleaning the blood off the ground. Al clicked his tongue. He resolved to come back tomorrow as his empty stomach loudly protested.
It was raining the next day. Al hated getting wet so he lazily spent the whole day cooped up in the small, dilapidated boat house where he slept. He thought he could probably manage not eating for a day, but two days without anything was expectedly tough. What should he do? He was so hungry… Al was at a loss of what to do as he hung from the ceiling beams of the plant when Harvey entered the room. The man opened the door to the freezer and went inside. He peeled the remaining skin off the cow and removed the organs before cutting up the meat. The carcass had been staying in the freezer at a temperature that wasn’t cold enough to freeze its meat. Al secretly snuck behind him and entered the cold storage room… although it was akin to a massive freezer with Al’s current size. The cold wasn’t enough to freeze him, but his body shivered. From the ceiling and hanging down from chains attached to their hind legs, the (former) cows were methodically organized like clothes in a closet.
It appeared that Harvey was beginning to dissemble the meat that had been freezing for the past few days. Harvey was Jean’s younger brother, and he was the laxest even among all the other lax aspects of the business. He cut up the meat on top of the stainless steel table as he hummed to himself. Whenever that guy was humming, it was highly likely that he was in a cheerful mood after drinking some alcohol. That was correct. Harvey was an alcoholic and his hand occasionally trembled as he held the knife.
Al was convinced that the man was fine and tightly clung to the remaining half of a cow’s body hanging from the ceiling. As he had expected, Harvey paid no attention to the bat flying around in the freezer. Grateful for this, Al began licking the old, frozen blood clots, losing himself to his meal. Two-day-old blood lacked all freshness and flavor, but he couldn’t complain at this point.
Jean entered the freezer. Al panicked and curled his body up close to the meat. It would be troublesome if he was spotted. In the past when he sucked the blood of a cow hanging in the freezer, he was chased around by Jean with a broom.
Jean ordered Harvey, “Hurry up and work on those four cows we hung up the other day. An additional order came in.”
Harvey took down the meat Al had been licking the blood from and put it on top of the table. Al wanted to escape, but with Jean still in the room, that was impossible. As he tried to gauge the timing, the meat was flipped over, trapping Al between the meat and the table. He tried to come up with what to do when a loud thud resounded right next to his head. The tips of his fur right by his head were sliced off. His body burst into a cold sweat. If Harvey’s knife had been any closer, his head would have surely been sliced in two.
Harvey chopped through bone and meat, unaware of Al on the other side. He wrapped the pieces with plastic, threw them into a cardboard box, and sealed it. Al could hear the rattling of a cart’s wheels approaching.
“Oh, Thomas. You came at the right time. Come over here for a sec.”
Thomas was Harvey’s son. Because of his clumsy hands, he was absolute trash at cutting up meat, but since his physique was good, he was left to handle the majority of the manual labor in the plant.
“What’s up, pops?”
“Put this box in the freezer.”
Al heard the freezer door creak open. If he got locked up in there, he would surely be frozen solid. The moment he tried to fly out of the box, another heavy box was stacked on top of the one he was in. He tried to cry out, but the wheels of the cart were so creaky that no one heard him. Surrounded by the nauseating scent of beef, Al was carted inside the freezer… and became a frozen bat.
In the present, Al sensed someone’s presence and quickly turned around. It was a mirror. There was a mirror here. He searched for a light switch and turned on the lights. Lights were needed to get a better look, after all.
Fake flowers decorated the bathroom sink. There was a piece of paper with yellowed corners stuck to the right side of the mirror. It read <Conserve water! Use with care!>
Al put both hands on the mirror and stared closely at the strange characters. What language was this? Chinese? He felt like he had seen similar characters in a Chinese restaurant he went to before with his girlfriend.
He was convinced that this was the bathroom of a Chinese restaurant. That would explain the smell of raw meat and spices. He was probably sold wholesale with the frozen beef to a restaurant kitchen while he was still frozen. The chefs probably discovered him among the meat and threw him away in the bathroom garbage. Oh, but wait a moment. Why the bathroom garbage? Shouldn’t he have been thrown out in the kitchen garbage?
Al could hear the footsteps of someone approaching from afar. He looked at himself in the mirror and panicked. He wasn’t wearing any clothes. He had kept a set of clothes in the small boat house he slept in near Jean’s Meat Processing Plant for when he returned to his human form. But he didn’t know where he currently was. In this situation, it was impossible for him to return there and grab some clothes.
That’s right! Al made a fist with his right hand and smacked it against the palm of his left hand. He could say that he encountered a mugger, was threatened at knifepoint, stripped of all his belongings, and shoved into the bathroom. If he could pull off this excuse, the other person might sympathize with him and even lend him some clothes.
It was great that he came up with an excuse for why he was naked, but then he glanced at the lower half of his body. He still wanted to cover his crotch area. He took a look around and spotted a gray locker near the sink. He opened the door to find cleaning supplies stuffed inside. The person’s footsteps were getting closer. Al had no time to be picky with his options. He grabbed a nearby yellow object and held it over his crotch.
[IMAGE of Al holding a broom to his crotch]
<Wh-what the hell are you doing here?!>
Al heard a shrill voice from behind. He slowly turned around.
<Whoa… Who the hell are you? Why are you holding a mop to your crotch?!>
The person standing at the bathroom entrance was a man wearing a light-blue work uniform. His eyes were wide open and his face was pale as if he had just encountered a ghost. His face resembled that of an Asian man. Al had a hard time distinguishing the ages of Asian people. The man looked to be a teenager, but Al doubted that this man was around that age. Maybe the man was a cook in the kitchen or a waiter, although the work uniform didn’t match. Perhaps he was another customer?
<Th-this is the woman’s bathroom, you know! Why the hell are you naked here?!>
Al thought the man was speaking Chinese, but he really had no idea what language it was. The only thing conveyed was that this man was extremely agitated about something.
He commented in the corner of his mind, “This is America. You can at least speak English, you know?“
Generally speaking, minorities often tended to congregate in tight-knit spaces. They probably believed that as long as they were among their kind, they could feel comfortable, but that would conversely hinder such groups from ever assimilating into the country, or so Al believed, although it had nothing to do with him. There was no point in criticizing other people’s way of life. In any case, what he needed to do most was to convey his current situation to this Chinese man. Al hoped that even if this man couldn’t speak English, he could at least pick up on some words as Al spoke slowly.
“I’m not suspicious.”
He said and took one small step forward. The Chinese man screamed, <Whoa!> and took a huge step back. His reaction was too dramatic, as if he was being cornered by a bank robber or a serial killer. Al was completely naked and wasn’t holding a gun. He wondered why this man was so scared when he recalled that his hand was covering his crotch. Was the man worried that Al was hiding some weapon there?
Animals would lie on their backs and reveal their stomachs to gain the trust of others. This act was meant to expose their weak point and demonstrate that they weren’t hostile. You had to be that resolute if you wanted to make the other lower their guard. Al was embarrassed but there was no other way. He resigned and moved the top of the mop away from him.
<Wh-why are you showing me that?! You pervert!>
Al embarrassingly showed his ‘stomach’, but the Chinese man only grew more agitated. Al was unarmed and naked. What more could he do? He was at a loss and gave a quick shrug of his shoulders.
“I don’t have anything that can be used as a weapon on me. I was brought here by some man I don’t know. He stole my wallet, clothes, and all my belongings. Please, you gotta help me.” Al attempted to use the excuse he came up with just before.
<Don’t use English. Y-You’re in Japan, so speak Japanese!>
Al’s shoulders dropped and he let out a long sigh. It appeared that this Chinese man didn’t understand a lick of English. He came to this country, but what was his plan if he couldn’t speak or comprehend any English?
The Chinese man slowly retreated while taking his cellphone out from his coat pocket.
<Th-this is Tokitou. S-sorry for calling you, but you’re still in the office, right, Hiroo-san? I heard some sounds in the eastern wing even though everyone should have gone home. I thought this was strange and went to check, but there is this man in the woman’s bathroom. He’s a foreigner, and what’s more is that he’s butt naked. He seems to be some kind of exhibitionist pervert. He speaks English, but I don’t know what he’s saying since I can’t understand English. So can you please come here as soon as possible? I’m not joking! I wouldn’t say this kind of thing as a joke!>
The Chinese man hung up the phone and immediately turned to glare at Al. Al knew that he looked slightly “suspicious” given his lack of clothes, but this man’s wariness was abnormal. Wait, was Al’s true identity as a vampire exposed? But he hadn’t done anything that would indicate such.
But then again, China had four thousand years of history. Al had watched a kung-fu movie before where a Chinese man used some strange technique, sorcery, or magic to see past facades.
Slow footsteps could be heard approaching, and another Chinese man appeared by the bathroom door. The one looked slightly older. His face was flat with hardly any bumps. His face resembled Al’s friend’s bulldog. The man was also wearing a light-blue work uniform. As soon as he spotted Al, he frowned and shouted, <Ugh!>
Al finally noticed that footsteps here resounded in a peculiar way. It sounded crisp like these men were walking on top of something hard like linoleum. The sound alone gave off the impression that they were walking down the long hallway of a school. Al began to think that this wasn’t a Chinese restaurant but rather a much larger building.
<Wh-what’s with this guy?> The bulldog-looking Chinese man said something.
<Right? I told you he’s weird. This guy isn’t sane. We should call the cops.>
The younger Chinese man began dialing his phone again. The bulldog-looking man looked disgusted as he slowly checked out Al from his head to his toes. Al felt disgusted too, having his naked body stared at so intently.
<How did you get inside this building? What are you planning on doing here?> The man asked Al.
It appeared that the bulldog-looking Chinese man could only speak Chinese as well. Al frowned at how utterly closed off this community was.
<I guess we really have to speak English or these foreigners won’t understand us. Hmm…> The bulldog-looking man tried again. <You…you…hentai?>
<Hiroo-san, isn’t ‘hentai(pervert)’ a Japanese word?!>
The bulldog-looking man grew slightly red and shouted at the young Chinese man. <I-I know that. …But if there are these types of perverts in other countries as well, I thought that ‘hentai’ would be a universal term.>
<What stupid thing are you thinking about at a time like this?!>
As Al listened to the slightly angry click-clacking words of the conversation between the two Chinese men, he picked up the distant sounds of police sirens approaching.
Al was apprehended by police officers who rushed at him in the women’s bathroom. When he first saw them, he wondered if they really were police officers because the uniform they wore was completely different from any he had ever seen. Moreover, everyone looked Asian. Why were there only Chinese people in this area?
This had to be a Chinatown. That would explain why their uniforms looked Chinese and all the police officers were Chinese. Minorities protect minority communities. Al agreed and thought it was a good idea. However, such a large Chinatown didn’t exist in Nebraska, so he was most likely not in his home state. Perhaps he was shipped somewhere far away while he was frozen.
There was a young man among the police officers who could speak English, so Al thought he could finally convey his intentions, but the officer informed Al, “You were found trespassing naked in this meat processing factory, so you’ve been arrested for illegal entry on private property and public indecency.”
Al was pushed into a police car and shocked to see that they were driving on the left lane. Driving on the left would lead to a collision with oncoming traffic. However, no one else seemed to realize. Al panicked by himself when a car on the other side came approaching.
“Watch out!” Al shouted and the two officers sandwiching him on both sides turned to him in surprise. However, the incoming car safely passed them on the right lane.
“What’s the matter? Why did you suddenly shout?” the English-speaking officer asked with a stiff face.
“Um… well…” Al fumbled on his words as car after car continued to pass them going the opposite way on the right lane. He asked, “Is it okay for us to drive on the left lane?”
The police officer’s stiff expression softened when he heard Al’s question. “Cars may drive on the right lane in the country where you’re from, but we drive on the left here.”
The police officer’s pronunciation was clear, but Al wondered if the officer had confused the word “state” for “country”. He didn’t know of any state within America where people drive on the opposite lane. Or maybe he had been isolated from society for so long that he wasn’t aware of the laws changing.
As they drove past the rows of buildings as large as factories, the scenery suddenly shifted to reveal a “city”. Al couldn’t believe his eyes. Buildings were packed tightly together and narrow paths cut in between. There were also stone bridges—something he had never seen. And all the people walking on the streets were Chinese. The sight illuminated by the streetlights and signboards was not the familiar America he knew. It gave off the aura of an exotic, foreign country.
“This Chinatown is huge,” Al muttered to himself.
The police officer heard him and looked surprised. “Chinatown?” He asked. “Are you talking about Chuukamachi? That’s in Yokohama, not here.”
Al didn’t understand what the police officer was saying. What were Chuukamachi and Yokohama? They sounded like place names, but he didn’t know them. Confused, he asked, “We’re not in Nebraska, are we? I actually don’t know where this is.”
“By Nebraska, do you mean the state in America?”
“This is Japan. Or did you not know that either?” The police officer’s voice suddenly turned stern.
“This is Japan, not America. …How exactly did you arrive here? You have your passport, right?”
Al couldn’t hide his shock as his mouth hung open. Japan! So this was Japan! Speaking of Japan, there was Mount Fuji, geisha, and Akihabara. It was a famous Asian metropolis. Movie stars often visited to promote their movies. But where on the globe was Japan? Was it near India? He didn’t know.
Leaving aside the location of the country, why was he in Japan now? But there was no need to think deeply about it; there was only one explanation. He was exported out of the country along with the frozen beef. This was the worst. There was nothing he could do now that he was shipped off somewhere, but why couldn’t he have been exported to an English-speaking country?
Arrested by Asian police officers whom he couldn’t at all communicate with and brought to their police station was the worst. What should he do to procure his meals from now on in this country? He imagined his inability to find any blood, his empty stomach, and the pain, and he immediately became depressed. Until they reached the police station, Al didn’t say another word.
Al had been handed a disposable smock given to visitors of the meat processing factory to change into during the car ride after his arrest. When the police car arrived at the station, Al was told, “Please change into this,” and handed a set of blue sweats so worn-out that the lint on it was visible and a definitely not new set of underwear. He still wore everything, but the sweat’s size was smaller than him so his limbs awkwardly stuck out.
Al’s understanding was that sweats were worn during exercise as they were designed for ease of movement. But it seemed that Japanese people wore sweats even when not exercising. What a strange thing to do.
After he changed clothes, Al was brought to a gloomy room as small as a rat cage. He sat down on the folding chair placed in front of a steel table. The young police officer who entered after him informed him that this was their “interrogation room”.
A middle-aged officer, whose eyes looked swollen like he was just burdened with all the world’s misfortune, also entered and plopped his ass down on the seat across from Al. Not only was this officer’s suit wrinkled but it was also frayed. The young officer serving as translator stood stiffly next to the middle-aged officer with a tense expression.
The middle-aged officer had a disgusting grin on his face as he muttered, <To think that a puny set of sweats could make such a handsome foreigner look like this.>
<Torii-san, I don’t think you should be talking like that.> The young officer appeared to be saying something in Japanese.
<There’s nothing wrong with what I said. Besides, this guy doesn’t know a lick of Japanese. That’s what I heard.> The middle-aged officer let out a huge sigh. It was a bit smelly.
<You don’t know if he’s just pretending to not understand. He’ll let us say whatever we want now, but later he’ll sue us for infringing on his human rights and make a big fuss about it. He might even sue us. America is the country of lawsuits, after all.>
The moment he heard this, the middle-aged officer’s complexion changed and he angrily shouted, loud like thunder, <Say that earlier, you idiot!>
Al also reflexively flinched, but the young officer trembled and seemed to say something akin to, “I’m sorry.” It was evident that the middle-aged officer held the power in their relationship.
The interrogation began, and the young officer asked in English for various details—name, age, occupation, and purpose for coming to Japan. Al answered that his full name was Albert Irving and that he was 21 years old, the age he was when he became a vampire. In actuality, it had been eight years since then, so his actual age should be 29, but his appearance hadn’t changed at all. He thought a bit before answering that his occupation was that of an actor. He reported that he had come to Japan for a movie shoot.
<Wow. He said he’s an actor. I did find him handsome when I first saw him.> The young officer was a bit excited as he translated for the middle-aged officer.
<Actor? Probably for adult videos.> The middle-aged officer scoffed. The young officer suddenly went quiet, but the middle-aged officer continued to jab. <He probably acts in perverted porn videos. Go ask him.>
Al was asked what kind of actor he was, and he puffed his chest out and answered, “A movie actor.” He started off in the modeling industry before being scouted by a famous director and switching over to acting. His schedule and passport were all handled by his manager, so he didn’t really know where he was. When he got separated from the filming crew during shooting, he was attacked by a man… Although this was 99% fiction, Al started getting into character as he spun this tale for the officers.
It was true that he was affiliated with a modeling agency. He did underwear modeling for mail order catalogs and posed for a poster promoting his state’s dairy farms. He even planned to go to acting school after he graduated college. He had originally planned to go right after graduating high school, but his family had been vehemently against it so he gave up. Nevertheless, he truly couldn’t abandon his dream and joined a modeling agency. But no big-name movie director would ever pay attention to a model in a local agency in a state like Nebraska, and the only jobs he did were for mail order catalogs, mail order catalogs, and mail order catalogs.
<Go ask him one more time, Sasama,> the middle-aged officer ordered.
The young officer did as told, translated for Al, and immediately straightened his back to report, <I-It’s the same as before. During the shoot, he was separated from the filming crew. While walking on the streets, he was caught by a Japanese man who stripped him of all his belongings and stuffed him in the bathroom.>
A loud bang echoed. The middle-aged officer had apparently slammed his hand down on the table with all his might. He shouted, <And how exactly did he manage to walk himself into that situation? The factory he was brought to is restricted and requires a passcode to enter and exit, you know?!>
<Maybe the man who stuffed in the bathroom and robbed him of all his stuff was a factory staff member?>
<Are you stupid?! It was the factory staff who reported him!>
<What if the culprit was another member…?>
<Instead of looking at it that way, isn’t it more likely that this guy broke into the factory to molest the women in the bathroom?>
The two officers argued with each other and Al merely watched on in a daze since he couldn’t understand what they were saying. More importantly, he was hungry. He hadn’t had a single drop of blood since he was thawed.
<Torii-san, the victim himself said he was brought to the factory.> The young officer was beginning to look desperate. <Moreover, I heard snippets from the factory staff that the factory mainly processed meat, so workers are made to stand all day to do their job. It’s very tough and all their young workers soon complain and quit, leaving many of the workers to be older folk. That’s why all their female employees are in their 40s.>
<Ugh,> the middle-aged officer covered his mouth to stifle a groan.
<That’s why the factory staff found it strange that… you know, if his intention was to molest…>
<This guy’s probably a perv who got a thing for older women.> But then the middle-aged officer’s slightly puffy eyes suddenly opened up wide as if something had clicked in his head. He pointed at Al and shouted, <Hey, you. You can’t be lying to us. Stop it with the shitty acting and confess already, f*cking bastard! You broke into the factory and waited in the women’s bathroom to molest the older women there!>
“Did you hide in the bathroom to assault the middle-aged women?” The middle-aged officer’s tone had been loud and rough, but the young officer’s voice was gentle as he translated for Al.
“I really was brought there by a man.” Al put his hands together and earnestly pleaded. He was completely in “acting” mode.
The young officer had tears in his eyes as he pleaded to the middle-aged officer on Al’s behalf, <He’s telling the truth.>
The middle-aged officer, still reclining in his chair, crossed his arms and loudly clicked his tongue a couple of times. <Tsk, tsk. Fine. Then go ask him about the appearance, age, and clothes of the man who did this to him!>
The young officer looked pressured, as if he was the one being interrogated for the crime, and asked Al about the perpetrator’s appearance. Al put his hand on his chin and thought. Since he had made up the story, a perpetrator didn’t exist to be described. But if he didn’t say something, the officers would start annoyingly poking and prodding again.
Al could probably invent a character, but a criminal should have an evil-looking face, right? So an Asian villain’s face would look like… He noticed the middle-aged officer glaring at him, deep wrinkles forming on the tip of his nose. While looking at the officer’s face, Al slowly described.
The young officer translated for Al. <He says that the man was about 165 centimeters tall. He doesn’t know the man’s age, but he assumes it’s between 40 to 50. He had black hair although it was beginning to thin at the crown. His face was shaped like a rhombus. His nose was round, small, and low. His eyes were puffy. His eyebrows were thick and connected at the center. He had a thick beard and his entire face… was… greasy…> As he translated, the young officer’s face gradually turned pale, and the middle-aged officer finally noticed the reason why.
<In short, the bastard looks like me, huh?!> the middle-aged officer shouted.
<He didn’t say that exactly. Although the description does match a little… There’s no way you’re a mugger, right, Torii-san…?>
<Of course I’m not, you numbskull!> The middle-aged officer’s scream reverberated, shaking the tiny interrogation room.
In the end, Al was only yelled at by the middle-aged officer, and when he was finally allowed to leave the interrogation room, it was already past midnight.
“We’ll interrogate you again tomorrow morning,” the young officer told Al, and Al nodded and obediently followed him to the holding cells. He had never had any trouble with the police back home, so he would have never thought he would be locked up in one in a foreign country.
The jail in Japan was a two-storied, fan-shaped building. A single cell was very cramped, the space equivalent to two closets, but 1-2 people could be put inside. Also, foreigners must be rare here as people stared at him when they walked by.
Al was put in a corner cell on the first floor. There was nothing but a blanket inside. Something resembling a toilet was installed here, but it was embedded in the floor and weirdly shaped, so Al didn’t know how to use it. Well… he no longer needed to excrete once he became a vampire, so while it didn’t matter to him, he disliked how it smelled.
The inside of the cell was cold. Al wrapped himself up in the thin blanket that reeked of different people’s body odors, and he lay down on the linoleum floor. He was given some kind of food to eat, but he didn’t touch it. It wouldn’t fill his empty stomach, after all.
As he stared at the iron bars, he wondered what he should do from now. He left America and was now in Japan… He should have studied the world map when he was in school. How far away was Japan from America? Could he fly back by himself? But even if he could, his empty stomach would prevent him from flying for too long. He had to find some blood to replenish his energy.
He knew he wouldn’t die from starvation, but it didn’t change the anguish he felt. An empty stomach was painful. His body wouldn’t move as desired and he was easily irritated. Unless he could find something to satisfy his hunger, he would eternally suffer this pain.
Once dawn breaks, he would turn into a bat. If he wrapped his body in the blanket, people might not notice him transforming. And once he becomes a bat, he could slip through the metal bars. Then all he needed to do was blend in with the people coming and going to get safely outside.
His search for a meal would have to come in the morning. He endured the hunger pangs and closed his eyes. The floor was hard but it was bearable for him. He was used to not sleeping on a bed. He was disappointed in himself for degrading to live like an animal. He had considered dying many times before, but now he felt nothing. Nothing mattered anymore.
People adapted to their living conditions. Lying on the floor would lead to all sorts of body aches, but he could still sleep soundly. He had forced himself to live like a human for his first two years as a vampire, but by the third, he had given up and accepted his abnormal body. He had wandered around until he found a place to stay near Jean’s Meat Processing Plant two years ago. Since then, he had no interaction with other people even when he transformed into a human. And even if he did interact, it wasn’t anything meaningful. Besides, he didn’t expect anyone to understand his situation.
He talked a lot with people today, but he felt like it had been about two years since he last spoke to anyone. That didn’t really matter though as he would be returning to his usual lifestyle tomorrow. He would leave the holding cell and find something to eat. He would be back to being a vampire who just lived only to fill his empty stomach.
He didn’t know how long he would keep living like this, but he felt that in the near future, he would end up forgetting his own name and what it means to live as a human.
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