Monday, November 8, 2010

Best Five Years: The Registrar

Best Five Years is an idea for a manga style series I thought of the other day.  It takes place at a small college in a middle of nowhere town.  



A young man passes a sign with an arrow.  The sign reads: “Registrar’s Office”.  The young man turns the corner and encounters the back of an incredibly long line.  The young man is dressed as a student.  He is holding a folder of papers.  His hair is a bit frazzled.

“Ugh.  Look at the line.  This is going to take hours,” he says aloud to no one.  The young man looks at the line of students all carrying folders of papers.  Some are looking bored, some are talking to each other.  He notices another sign a short distance away from the line.

The sign reads:  “If you can read this, use this line instead.”  

The sign has an arrow that points toward a man seated behind a counter off to one side.  There is no line in front of him, however.

The young man looks around at the line he is in.  Several other young men and women have filled in behind him.  The young man walks away from the line and approaches the counter and the man.

The counter is set higher than the floor so that the young man has to look up just a bit to see the man.  There is a small plaque next to the man which reads, “The Registrar”.  The man smiles.

“And what would you like to register as?”, the man asks.

“Uh...huh?” the young man replies, looking confused.

“Your registration.”  The man points a finger at the folder with papers.  “What did you want to register as?”

“My...uh...classes?  I need to register for classes.”  The young man looks back at the line he left.  The line is grayed out, and indistinct.  Everything around him is sharp and in focus.  “This is the Registrar’s office.  The sign...”

“Ah...ah...I see.  Interesting.”  The man pauses.  They look at each other.  The man smiles.  He has pointed teeth like a cat’s.  “You are at the Registrar’s office, correct.  I am the Registrar.  And you...are different.”

“Different?”

“You can see the sign.”  The Registrar points at the sign.

“Well...that line is crazy long.  What do you mean, different?”

“Very few can see the sign.  That is why we have it.  What is your name?  Wait!  Don’t answer that.”  The Registrar taps a pencil on the desk and squints at the young man.  “Everyone needs a name.”

“I have a name.  It’s...”

“I said wait.  You can’t use that name.  Not here.  Not now.  You need a different name.”

“Huh?  Is this some sort of names have power kind of weirdness?”

“mmm?  oh, no.  Don’t be silly.  It’s just that everyone I deal with has to have a Japanese name or a very good reason why they don’t.”

“I’m lost.”  The young man looks skeptical and motions as if to back away from the counter.

“Reg-Ist-Rar.”  The Registrar taps the plaque with the pencil and resumes staring and thinking.

“Why do I have to have a Japanese name?”

“It’s the way things are done.  You can’t walk around with a name like Steve or Joe and be a part of a story like this.”

“A story like what?”

“This”  The Registrar gestures around the room.  “College.  Day one.  The great adventure.  The next years of your life with change you, mold you, they might even kill you.”

“...”

“Don’t worry, most everyone survives in some way...ah ha.  I have it.  Yukio.”

“Yukio?”

“Your name is Yukio.  Yukio Ishihara.”

“Yukio Ishihara.”

“Yes.  You should learn how to spell it as soon as you can.  Terribly embarrassing thing to forget.  So, Yukio Ishihara.  I am the Registrar.”

“You said that already.”

“And what would you like to register as?”

“That too.”  Yukio sighs, and slumps his shoulders.

“Well?”

“I don’t know.  I thought I was just signing up for classes.”  Yukio gestures with the folder of papers.

“All well and good, but it is incredibly important, Yukio, that you make some decisions before you leave this office today.”

“Is there some sort of list I can look at?”

“List?  You have no idea where you are, do you?”

“Reg-Ist-Rar.”  Yukio points at the plaque and scores a point.  “Are you the reason that line is so long?”

“Not at all, that line is headed somewhere else entirely.  Everyone in it is veiled.”

“Veiled?” Yukio looks back at the indistinct line.

“Out of tune, out of step.  They only see the world they live in and nothing else.  You, on the other hand, are standing in my line.”

They stare at each other for a moment.  The Registrar blinks.  “I think we can rule out extra-dimensional visitor.  Probably shape-shifting alien as well.”  The Registrar makes a note on a paper in front of him but out of view.

“Yukio, you have to give me something to work with.  Do you want to be defined by a singular distinction...such as the guy that plays guitar.”  The other line is shown again, this time one person holding a guitar case is highlighted.  “Perhaps the photography kid.”  Another view of the indistinct line, highlighting a woman with a camera around her neck.  “Sports?  Soccer, swimming, frisbee golf?”

“I kinda suck at all of those things.  Well, I can swim, but...I mean...who can’t swim?”

“You would be surprised.  Ok...ruling out singular distinction.  Are you proficient at martial arts?  Trained with an aging master or uncle or something?”

“No...that sounds cool though.”

“Well unless you are asking me to check Time Traveler, it is a bit late to get that one...crossing out ancient ninja powers and time traveler...”

“I like to read, does that help?”

“Mystical texts?  Rare manuscripts?  Sanity destroying tomes?”  The Registrar looks up hopefully.

“Ahh...no...mostly science fiction.  Some sword and sorcery stuff.”

“Only child, orphan?”

“No, I have...”

“Not important, just yet.  Don’t want to get ahead of ourselves.  Um...great personal tragedy?”

“Well, yeah, I suppose...you see...”

“Wait...don’t just blurt it out.”  The Registrar holds up his hand.

“I thought you wanted to know.”

“It has to be doled out over time.”

“There isn’t much to tell, it was a long time ago and...”

“Doled. Out.  Drips and drabs.  I am crossing out Writer as well.  You obviously have no grasp of dramatic timing.  Hmmm.  No...no...obviously not...too many limbs...not enough eyes...”  The Registrar crosses out several more items on his list.

“Yukio...you are a troublesome person to quantify.  Why are you here?”

“Back to this again...”

“No, I mean...here...in this smallish college town.  Why did you choose here of all places?”

“Well...I had to decide between this or another place, and I looked at the brochures for a long time and finally just said What the hell, it’s an adventure right?  I mean, anything has the potential to be better than high school.”

“hmm..wait what did you say?”

“High school sucked.”

“No...I mean yes, of course it did, we all feel your pain...but you said ‘Potential’...potential...yes, I think we have it, Yukio.  You have potential.”

“I have been hearing that all my life.  It’s not that great of a compliment.”  

“One moment.”  The Registrar writes something on his paper.  “Yes...oh my yes...ok...you are in for an interesting time, Yukio.  All the classics, if I am reading this correctly.”

“I need History of the World, I have to have 4 credits of history.”  Yukio points at his folder.

“Not the classes, Yukio.  The people, the stories, the encounters, the parties, the late nights, the food, the eight days of nice weather.  I think you are going to see it all.  The moon lit ninja battles, robot incursions, temporal shifts, dimensional shifts, steamy alien shifts, talking stuffed animals, and maybe if you are lucky some devils!”

Quick cuts and some imagery of the insanity suggested by the Registrar while he foreshadows for Yukio.

Yukio: “...”

“I don’t believe...most...of what you just said.”  Yukio says.

“And that is the best part!”  The Registrar smiles.  “You aren’t walking around like the veiled here, Yukio.  You are going to see just how odd college is for the rest of us.  And now...with that settled, you need to go stand in line.”

“Wait...what?  I have to go back there?  It’s twice as long as when I left it!”  Yukio points angrily back at the veiled line.

“No, no, no.  --That-- line.”  The Registrar points to a line with about ten people in it.  Some of them have wings and horns, one of the people is a 7 foot column of hair with feet.  The people towards the back of it look more normal.

“Why...uh...why do I have to wait in a line, now?  I thought you were the Registrar?”

The Registrar smiles again.  Its a big smile.  “Two reasons, Yukio.  1.  You need to register for classes and 2.  You have to stand in line at the registrar’s office on your first day because that is where you will meet some of your closest friends.  Welcome to college.”  The Registrar winks and disappears.

Yukio looks surprised and then a bit pissed and stomps off the the end of the unveiled line.

  

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Geek - Gamer - Librarian - Writer. Only awesome at one of those things at a time, unfortunately.

About Fading Interest

After writing op-eds and travelogues for several years, after finishing a few books, and after failing to get the ball rolling with project after project I stumbled into an idea that might just hold my interest long enough to enjoy some level of satisfaction with my writing.