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Archive 2
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First Chapters



The Sun Rising
Oliver Moor

The flight has been quiet and my knees have not been too painful. They have swelled slightly but the pain is not something about which I complain. Some pain, I find, is tolerable after a while, and there is little, it seems, I can do about them anyway. Air travel does not help them, though, and so as a rule I do not like such long flights, but this one has been endurable.  

The route is one I know well, and there is little to do but read or drink. I have never been much of a drinker, and reading I find difficult on planes, so usually I sleep throughout the trip. I like to look out at the city as we leave. Tokyo shone in the evening sun as we left this time – God knows it is not an attractive city, but the sunlight improves it a little. I tried to see my own house. I thought I did – I always like to look for it from the air, but it is hard to pick out an individual house -- even a house like mine -- from so many, and my eyes are not what they were. I have seen it for sure on many occasions, but this time I am not certain. One of them definitely looked like mine. It could have been, and perhaps it was. Seeing it filled me with happiness. A foolish, childish happiness, and not one I have ever shared with anyone, of course, but an indulgence I enjoy. An old man is allowed a few. 

After that, though, there is nothing to see from the windows, except for the wrinkled surface of the Pacific seven miles below – not an ocean from this distance, more a vast grey desert, its waves – perhaps dunes is better -- marching in endless regiments across the miles. Usually I turn away from the window and fall asleep. This time, however, my eyes have barely left the window. I have stared out into the night for nine hours, yet I do not feel tired. I have watched the sun set over Japan. Now, as I continue to stare, the blackness is becoming a deep blue in the east, and I know soon the sun will rise over the United States. 

How many times have I seen this? It must be hundreds. The first time was in ’58, just after I had finished University. I suppose I was lucky – but no, luck is something I do not really believe in. I worked hard, damn hard. Perhaps I surprised myself, but I was determined. I was never considered a brilliant man, but I gained my Masters nonetheless, and a good one at that. Perhaps ultimately this worked in my favour. I was saved by my lack of genius – my colleagues at University went on to glorious academia and the thrill of the lecture hall, whereas I went on merely to a $3 billion dollar fortune and control of Japan’s second largest engineering firm. All this through a basic understanding of Physics and a modest level of ability at the subject.  

I have had a fine life. Our trade with the United States has left me wealthier than I could possibly wish to be. I own many houses, whole islands even, and a magnificent hundred metre yacht. My suits are cut from the finest cloth. My house is staffed with servants, whom I have always treated well. They will mourn my passing, it is true, but I have left every one of them enough to live in splendour for the rest of their lives, and they are thankful. They know that they do not have long to wait. Now that the cancer – a cancer always lurking in my cells’ broken and blasted DNA – has finally become insurmountable, they know that I have little time left. I instructed my chief of staff to dress the house as for a funeral. He wept openly, but I quieted him with the promise of millions. Money has the power to silence. I have bought silence on this flight, in fact. The entire first class section is empty. There were some angry faces in the departure lounge, and some raised voices, and I was a little sorry to have inconvenienced so many people. The airline, I am sure, will take care of them: I heard mention of another flight being put on specially for them.

I was forgetting. They will not be needing the next flight. 

The sky warms to red and then to orange as we make our way down the western seaboard. Cities pass beneath us and then a city emerges which does not pass. We bank left and begin to circle. A bell sounds and the flight attendant makes the customary announcement and I adjust my seat belt. The plane begins its long descent into San Francisco.

The immigration form lies on my lap. How many times over the years have I completed this form? I could do it in my sleep. Name: Satoru Anakawa. Date of birth: 18 May 1935. Purpose of visit: Business. Are you bringing gifts of a value of $10000 or more into the US? No. 

Until now, that is.

My gift is worth over forty-five million dollars. At least that is how much it is worth to my company, or what my engineers have spent on it. To me it is worth far more than that. 
The plane banks steeply and the city rolls out beneath our wings. I see the Golden Gate and the brown hills surrounding the city. How much it resembles my home town! There is a certain resemblance even in the shape of the harbour. The brown hills stand like sentries. Standing on their summits, the view would be almost identical, I am sure.

Not that I have not seen that particular view since that morning, of course, the morning when my mother and I had driven up into the hills to pick berries. I had stood on top of a great boulder and looked down at the city. I tried to pick out my house. The city had looked like a toy. Look at all the little houses, Mummy! Then the air raid siren sounded and I jumped down from the boulder into its shadow, which of course saved me – or rather doomed me to a protracted death -- as the sky blew apart. My mother could not look at the city as her face had pulled away from her skull. Her eyes were puddles of boiling jelly running down into the charred cave of her mouth. I tried to pull her body down the slope but she was too heavy and I had to leave her behind. I had to leave her alone in the dust on a burning mountain. Years later I thought of returning to try and find her but I knew it would be pointless. But by then I realised that I could ensure that her death would not go unnoticed. 

Now the rising sun is drenching the city in a brilliant white light. It is a magnificent sight. What must we look like from the ground, I wonder? A single silver plane in a azure sky; are there heads raised to see us? Will anyone notice us, just a routine flight from an unknown destination? Perhaps they will. Perhaps they will not. It does not matter. 

Enough. I say a final prayer, and reach for the briefcase.

© Oliver Moor 2001

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