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.