siafukira: ([ we couldn't wait to get outside)
siafukira ([personal profile] siafukira) wrote2009-06-28 10:32 am
Entry tags:


The capital of the Japanese Autonomous Oblast is a sprawling city of not quite a million people - and almost all of it is tents. Everyone in it knows how important it is never to be cornered, to have as many exits available as you can find, or make. June is shading into cool, melting subarctic summer, and along with the endless mosquitoes - at least it's not a malaria zone - the siafu are threatening to emerge. Time to wait out the warmer months and wait to see if this year will be the time they're finally overrun. Whether they'll come out of some hitherto overlooked enclave, or out of the ocean that surrounds Kamchatka on three sides, from the shallow bay that faces on to the camp in the far distance.

There are more than twice as many Japanese here now than there were Russians before the war; infections had been sparse, easily contained. Siberia's bitter climate saved it from the worst, which is why it's rapidly becoming all that's left of the Holy Russian Empire. To Light's ears, the title is ludicrous; grandiose in the manner only a dying people can call up. He hears enough of it around the camp, people wishing for stricter times, for the certainty of the whip, for the infrequent messages the Emperor sends from Okinawa. He's seen people cluster around the precious winding radios and the samizdat transcripts like they're a bowl of rice. Ridiculous. Stupid. The thought's old and tired, the dismay gone out of it. Whatever gets them through the day, after all; they're the remnant of Japan's 127 million people, and now the sun rises at the wrong latitude entirely.

The city's hospital has some low, single-storey buildings - pitiful excuses for isolation wards and operating theatres - but again, most of it's tents; terrified patients don't heal themselves with the limited treatments available, and terrified personnel burn out or snap, or make mistakes. Most of the people here came over on the boats, trapped in steel cages with the promise of death all around, and the chance of it swimming up from the ocean beneath them, and they never want to be locked inside four walls and a roof ever again.

Light has been apprenticed to the hospital almost since he arrived; it's a long story. Most of what they do is triage and public health; trying to get people not to kill themselves - not by accident, and not on purpose. In the six years he's been here, he's thrown himself into learning everything there is to know, and if it can be done with his mind and his hands, with limited equipment and next to no drugs, he can do it.

There's something else he can do, too; something he's done on the rarest of rare occasions over the years. Something that nestles in the small of his back beneath his clothes: please, doctor, I can't bear it any more. And he'll demur, and apologise, and make time to trace the pencilled characters on the notebook's page, to black-feathered, screeching glee behind him. Nothing entertains Ryuk more than seeing Light write someone down in the book.

The tent Light uses as his office and workroom, and lives in during the summer, is more of a yurt; the fire pit in the centre is currently quiescent. Part of what he does is to maintain the hospital's computer and ham radio, to track the stacks of medical books that are kept around, and all that is in here with him; the yurt is crowded. The desk he's sitting at is solid, but improvised, and low; he's sitting on a cushion. And it is as if they've all been dropped back in time a thousand years. Chairs took up more space, and weren't multifunctional, and when they were deserting Japan with what they could carry, multipurpose things had been key.

Today, Light's not writing in the book; it would be shocking if he was. He's just eaten, which isn't at all to say he's not still hungry. He ought to sleep, the sooner to get back to work - but something has him on edge. It's not the stink coming in from outside - shattered people are remarkably hard to educate that the streets aren't sewers - or the chatter of too many people, too close. Or the moans and occasional screams or shouts from the hospital itself. It might be the fact that he's spent large chunks of the day in and out of one of those single-storey isolation wards, and that Ryuk is still talking about it.

[[OOC: private to [ profile] smallpackaging.]]

Post a comment in response:

Anonymous( )Anonymous This account has disabled anonymous posting.
OpenID( )OpenID You can comment on this post while signed in with an account from many other sites, once you have confirmed your email address. Sign in using OpenID.
Account name:
If you don't have an account you can create one now.
HTML doesn't work in the subject.


Notice: This account is set to log the IP addresses of everyone who comments.
Links will be displayed as unclickable URLs to help prevent spam.