Sometimes, those tenacious weeds hold on in that thin soil until a beautiful flower blooms.
They’re going to operate.
Sometimes, those tenacious weeds hold on in that thin soil until a beautiful flower blooms.
They’re going to operate.
This one is a personal post. I didn’t intend to be writing it, but I feel full of thoughts and lacking in who I should express them to.
I’m in the hospital, waiting. I’ve been waiting since last June when they diagnosed me with a brain tumour. Not all of the waiting has been done here, but pretty much every day since the doctor first told me my scan revealed something, I’ve been waiting. For a solution, a way forward, anything.
I’ve had scans, appointments and consultations. I’ve had disappointments, misdiagnosis, poor excuses and what feels like endless mistakes. I’ve told myself not to pin my hopes on this appointment. That they might not give me the answers I want or even any answer at all. They’re so good at that last one. I thought I had convinced myself… But here I am. Hope is clinging to me like the tenacious roots of a weed in shallow soil and I feel sick. Filled with dread and longing in equal measure.
I’ve tried to be positive. I named the first tumour. Alfie Clementine. It’s cute. It makes him less frightening and more of a loveable and yet painful inconvenience. Then his sister showed up, Norma, and its feeling too crowded up in here. I want to evict them. They’re like the house guests who show up and then just slob around your house without thought or contribution. Useless balls of tissue and snot.
They’ve called my name…
Next round of the NYCMidnight Flash Fiction Challenge. Prompts this time round were Genre: Action and Adventure / location: shooting range / Object: Full-length mirror .
Synopsis: An orphaned daughter uses the sword of her father to seek revenge.
The candles flickered, their reflections danced on the steel of her blade setting it alight. The breeze caressed her skin and stirred her long dark hair, she closed her eyes and cleared her mind. Her father had taught her to fight with this sword, just as his father taught him. He told the story of how his Sofu had come to America with only the sword and his recipes.
Now the bakery and its recipes were gone, and the sword would be the tool of her revenge. Pushing back the sadness that clawed at her heart she stood and blew out the candles. There would be time to mourn later.
Knowing that the sword at her back would never make it through the front door unnoticed she climbed the fire escape and entered through a second-floor window. The building had once been a shooting range. When the Yakuza moved into the neighbourhood last year, they turned it into an exclusive club; shot-up silhouettes left to decorate the walls like sinister bunting. The false ceiling had been removed, leaving the gangway on which she now walked hidden by lights and air-conditioning pipes. The gun check was now a bar where a full-length mirror adorned the wall, fronted by expensive bottles of sake lined up like soldiers. Below her, a throng of bodies danced to pulsing music.
In the corner, a plush booth sat like a throne from where Billy Yen reigned over his little kingdom. Publicly a fine upstanding businessman and citizen, privately a crime lord and to an unlucky few, a murderer. Handsome and confident he lounged against the crushed velvet, two beautiful women draped on either side like fur coats, laughing at a private joke. She crouched on the gangway and scanned the crowds, picking out five bodyguards. Angry looking men, all conspicuous amongst the revellers, the bulge of automatic weapons showing under their suit jackets. Marking the place of each opponent, she inhaled the smell of sweat and alcohol and stepped off the platform.
The crowd gasped and parted as she landed with cat-like grace, knees bent to absorb the impact and one palm to the floor to steady her. Straightening, she met their awe with a glare and drew her blade. They stopped staring and began to run. She headed for Billy Yen.
The world around her slowed as instinct and training took over, time experienced in movement and sound. Large hands grasped at her through the screaming crowd as the first member of Billy’s goon squad lunged for her like a fool. Her sword swung high then arced down, severing both his hands. The music stopped and his roar of pain rushed to fill the void, followed by the percussion of gunfire. She pushed on through the thinning crowd.
Darting to avoid the second gunman, her petite form nimble and graceful in contrast to his brutish fumbling. A practised slice from navel to nose put him down. She spun like a dancer, sword glittering in the multi-coloured lights before arterial spray from the throat of number three coated her face like war paint. She let her momentum carry her forward to meet number four with a rapier thrust to the gut. Blood flowed across the polished floorboards and she knew he wouldn’t live.
Pain seared through her as a bullet tore the cartilage of her right ear, stumbling as a second hit her shoulder. Gritting her teeth she ran at the shooter, weaving to avoid a further hit and finally, ducking beneath his gun hand. She dropped into a slide and kicked him hard in the right knee with both feet. The crunch of bone filled the air as he fell and his gunfire ceased. She shivered with delight and repulsion, rising to pierce his heart with her sword. All five bodyguards were down.
Solitary applause echoed in the deserted room as time resumed its normal pace. Billy Yen sat much as he had before, unfazed by the drama. The two women were no longer laughing. Pain radiated through her body, but she stood steady and poised. She looked to the women and offered two words; “Get. Out.” Billy didn’t blink, arrogance blinding him to his imminent death. The women fled.
His voice flowed through the silence, soft and lilting, untouched by the gore that surrounded them. “Impressive, perhaps you should work for me rather than…” He gestured to his fallen men, eyes lingering over the one still alive who whimpered as he tried to pick up his hands.
“I’d rather eat pig vomit.”
Billy glowered, patience lost. “What do you want, girl?”
She rolled her eyes, arm sweeping to gesture to the carnage. “Surely you’ve caught on?”
He leaned back, unconcerned. “Yes, yes. For my life. What do you want in return for my life?”
“You think you can buy me?” She swallowed the rage that rose within her.
He remained calm. “Everyone wants something,”
“Hayashi Kafu.” The name tumbled from her lips, yet no flicker of recognition showed in Billy’s eyes. Hatred knotted in her stomach. “You don’t even know his name?”
“Understand girl, I am a busy man, and I deal with many people.” His tone was nonchalant.
“He was my father!” She yelled. “Your petty thugs beat him for ‘protection money’, all five of them. Then you murdered him.” A tear betrayed her shattered heart. She dashed it away. “You beheaded him!”
“You seem confused.” His tone mocked her “I’m a businessman. I…”
Her father’s katana sang one final time. The look of surprise on Billy Yen’s face would have been comical, but for the macabre fact that it now looked up at her from the table while his body still lounged in its seat.
Turning, she paused to wipe the blood from her sword and scoop up the severed hands. She caught sight of herself in the mirror she bowed to her reflection, honour restored.
This is another old one from days of Fictions Friday’s past. The featured image was the prompt for this tale.
It paid a girl like me to be unique. The whispering in dark corners didn’t bother me anymore, or even the calls of ‘freak’ that reached my ears. You see, in my line of work, men would pay good money to have their curiosity sated and then their desire. Fifty bucks just to look at the freak? Extra for a hands-on experience? I can’t complain.
Over slick pavements and potholes, the men travelled. I never knew how far they came, but they did come. They crowded in close to the other girls, glancing at their wares, but never intending to buy. They came for something “specific”, and they all asked for me by that name. A mumbled request in an alleyway to one of my co-workers and the resentful call for ‘Tattoo’ would drift to me through the district, carried on the steam vents and the muggy air. I’d hear my moniker minutes before the punters reached my door. Word travels quicker than a nervous John.
That’s how this one had come to me. A grudging series of whispers by my door. “A mouse for the freak,” “Tattoo…” and then, a timid knock. I lived uptown but kept a two-room space behind this rusted, red door. It was minimalist, to say the least, but it gave privacy and meant there was no need for awkward, backseat fumbling or dumpster humps. A faux leather chair sat across from an unmade bed and a small chest of drawers holding all the equipment a girl could need. To the side, another door leading to a tiny washroom.
The John sat there in my chair, fingers crushing the cracked and flaking armrests. He licked his chapped lips and shifted uncomfortably as his growing erection pressed against the material of his cheap suit. I stood and faced him, letting my robe fall to the ground with a dainty flutter. He came to fuck the freak and here I was, naked and demure.
I have a beautiful body; no man or woman could ever tell you different. A flat stomach and small waist accentuated my luscious curving hips that led down to legs so shapely they made other girls stare with envy and desire in their eyes. This John, like so many of the others, didn’t even bother to run his eyes over me, fixated they were on that one teasing hint. A flickering tongue of flame which snaked its way under my arm and curled itself around my left breast like the hand of a lover. Those black inked lines held him captive.
In a voice husky with need and fear, he commanded me to turn my back to him and ever the compliant whore I obeyed. Arms high over my head I held myself for his study, never quite sure as always if that gasp I heard from his lips came from horror desire. One thing for sure, there was always a hint of surprise. They heard the stories, and they came to gawk, but they didn’t believe until they saw with their own eyes.
Demons and devils leered from my flesh, writhing in flames that licked and scorched at my milk-pale skin. Black eyes, damning anyone who ever dared to stare. It didn’t matter. They all stared anyway. Swelled for me, wanted me. The freak that I am.
I heard him stand. The rustles of fabric as trousers were abandoned. His eyes bored into my spine. The serpent twisted about my arm luring him to temptation just as surely as it had Eve in the days of the Bible. Clammy hands cupping my breasts even as his mouth pressed wet and hungry against my skin. His disgusting little tongue traced the lines of the fire that marked me. Caressing my demons and tasting my devils as his erection swelled even harder against me. My mind drifted away from him to the first of his type.
It was the middle of a trick. He was just an average Joe. A little weird, but weren’t they all? The nervous, clammy type who had a wife and 2.4 kids stashed away somewhere, yet here he was trawling the gutters for a cheap piece of flesh. He came in a cheap suit with a briefcase. Out of town or just not ready to go home to his pretty little suburb?
He had me turned from him, mouth and hands caressing the creamy skin of my back. He was a talker. He told me I was perfect. He called me his white rose. I rolled my eyes because I knew he couldn’t see and whispered back all of the niceties his kind liked to hear. When his hands stopped their ceaseless caressing, I almost sighed with relief, enough talk and let’s get this thing done.
The sound of hands fumbling in pockets. I turned to offer him some help with the condom, but his hand on my shoulder kept me from facing him, and he asked me not to look. Oh great, he was shy. Just what I needed, we might be here all night.
His arm was snaking around my waist, thank God. Finally, he’s ready. His breath felt hot as he pressed his mouth to my ear.
‘I’ll make you beautiful.’ He whispered
The sharp pain as the needle pricked my neck. I tried to struggle. Blackness seeped in at the edge of my vision. Oh God, I couldn’t go out like this. You hear stories of men who murder whores, but not me. Not like this. I tried to hang on but I was falling, and there was nothing to stop me. The distant feeling of landing, face-down, on the bed and the sound of buckles on his briefcase unfastening. I melted away.
I woke hours later in the same bed, A brief moment of relief until I tried to move my arms and legs. I wasn’t bound but pain flooded through me, a thousand knives stabbing at my body. I crawled to the edge of the bed before vomiting on the carpet. It didn’t help at all.
Eyes finally raising, I caught my reflection in the full-length mirror. Face pale, my hair limp and knotted, blood and ink still oozing from my shoulders. I slid from the bed and crawled to the mirror. It was agony, but I had to see. I saw the bed, stained red with my blood and black with ink. Oh God, Oh God. I twisted to look, and the demons stared back at me.
Creamy white skin now a living tribute to a madman. I was his walking canvas.
Pulling back to the here and now I slid the gun from between the rumpled sheets and turned on the John. This time, he exhaled in horror, not desire. That big, black, eye of destiny stared him down, the barrel never blinking. Erection pathetically flaccid, he emptied his bladder down his leg.
Two hands on the gun, ‘Any last words?’
‘Please…’ he muttered. Funny, I have heard that so many times.
I shot him in the head. I shot him like I shot all the ones like him. The men who reminded me of Him.