Trouble³ – Flash Fiction Piece
This Friday I cheated with Chuck Wendig‘s flash fiction challenge—I actually wrote this story last week. But it fits the prompt (cliffhanger ending) so perfectly that I couldn’t resist using it again. In my defence, I’m being environmentally friendly by following the 3 Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle!)
I hope you enjoy…
I must be fucking nuts.
It wasn’t the first time the thought had entered Hachiro’s mind, but as he stood in alley’s dark mouth, heavy rain pelting him from above, plastering his long hair to his scalp, it was the first time he meant it. But it wasn’t as if he had a choice. When Eneko told you to make a pick-up, you damn well made the pick-up. The last member of the Red Fist to decline one of Eneko’s requests had been found floating face down in the harbour three days later.
There was movement from the street. A silver car had pulled over, four men stepping out from the vehicle. Three of them were typical Yakuza toughs, tattoos creeping up their necks and down their arms, splashes of colour visible despite the professional suits they wore. The fourth man was slender, his suit obviously hand-tailored. One of the toughs pulled out an umbrella and held it above the slender man, sheltering him from the freezing downpour.
“That’s close enough,” Hachiro said, when the group were several paces away. He didn’t like this one bit. His only weapon was the pistol-sized lectrigun tucked down the back of his pants, held loosely in place by his belt, and he wasn’t sure that using it in the rain was a good idea. In contrast, two of the toughs were carrying uzis. Good, reliable weapons. Hachiro would have given his left arm for an uzi, right then.
“I say when it is close enough,” the slender man replied. He took another two paces just to prove that he was the one in control. “You’ve brought the money?”
Hachiro nodded, handing over the cash in a waterproof bag. It was the most money he’d ever held, and probably ever would hold. Eneko had needed to hit three banks to get this much money together.
“The item?” Hachiro prompted.
The slender man nodded at one of the uzi-wielding toughs, who reached into his pocket. Hachiro tensed, but when the Yakuza thug merely brought out a small cube-shaped object, he relaxed a little.
“Tell Eneko that he is still in our debt,” the slender man said. “We have no need of money. This was simply a test, to see how serious your employer is about becoming a major player in Tokyo. I will contact Eneko from time to time, and he will do favours for me.”
“I will tell him,” Hachiro promised, and he held out his hand.
At another nod from the slender man, the thug handed over the object. As soon as the cube was pressed into his hand, Hachiro felt heat emanating from it. It was warm despite the coldness of the pouring rain. That was enough to make chills run up his spine. Whatever the cube was, it wasn’t natural.
The air was pierced by a blinding flash, several high-intensity floodlights casting harsh white beams over Hachiro and the Yakuza. Holding onto the small cube, Hachiro squinted and tried to use his free hand to shield his eyes as he heard voices call from all around.
“Nobody move! Drop your weapons and get down on your knees!”
The slender man let out an angry hiss. “He has betrayed us! Shoot him!”
Hachiro reacted on instinct. As the uzi-wielding men turned to open fire, he bolted into the alley, using the shadows to his benefit. He heard bullets ricochet off the walls of the buildings around him, heard more shots fired by police weapons as their calls for surrender were ignored. As screams of agony tore through the air, accompaniment to the song of gunfire, Hachiro flung himself behind an overflowing dumpster, his heart pounding in his chest, the sound of his own rushing blood filling his ears.
He felt cold now for a different reason. This had been a set-up. Even if he made it back to Eneko, the Yakuza would never do business with him again. They’d put a price on his head. And Hachiro himself would die as soon as he made it back. The blame for this would rest squarely on his shoulders. Unless… unless he could find out who had betrayed them. It must be another member of the Fist; if Hachiro could learn which of Eneko’s men had betrayed them, he might just save his own life.
Something cold and wet began to soak into his trousers where he knelt on the ground. He looked down and saw a rivulet of red washed along by the rain which continued to fall. He had no doubts about who the blood belonged to; there had only been four Yakuza on the street, no match for two-dozen or more armed police.
“There he is! Over there!”
The call was accompanied by the beam of a flashlight roaming the ground, and police appeared in the mouth of the alley, armed with automatic weapons. Hachiro closed his eyes. If the police got their hands on him, he was as good as dead. Eneko would assume he’d talk and simply pay someone to arrange for an ‘accident’ to befall him in his cell. Perhaps it would look like a suicide.
I wish I was far away from here, Hachiro thought.
The cube, forgotten in his hand, began to heat up, and then it started to glow orange. Before he could even react, a brilliant yellow light filled the alley, like the morning sun appearing over the horizon. It enveloped Hachiro, filling him with its warmth. He closed his eyes, and only when he felt cold once more did he dare open them again.
He was standing in daylight, in a forest of cherry trees, pink blossoms falling gently to the ground. There was no sign of the police, or the bloody alley, no indication that a slew of rain had been pouring here. Confused, he looked down at his hand, and felt his skin turn to goosebumps.
The cube was gone.