I'm working on a few new writing resource blog posts as well as a few new passed out photo stories. I also have a few new drinking stories that I have thought about. On top of all that, I'm thinking about adding a new section to the blog called, My opinion on ... . Which is where I basically will pick a topic and rant for a few paragraphs about it. It probably won't make much sense, but it should be fun to read.
I'll be opening the critique section again once I've finished the first draft. Basically, send me the chapter you want me to critique, and about a day before I post it on my website, I'll send you my critique via Dosx or save as whatever format you would like it in.
So, with recent edits and making it to the last scene of chapter 23, I'm around 80k for my NaNo WriMo novel. 5 more chapters after this one, and I'm getting excited about the end. From the looks of it though, since I don't want to lose sleep, I probably won't finish the whole novel until December 2nd or 3rd. I have a lot of work to do after that with the second draft and prep for Alpha-readers.
Chapter 5 (The crime scene)
Inside the securities firm where the incident took place, Keisuke held the warrant out. “Read the damn thing before you try to turn me away!”
The three yakuza-looking men glanced at the paper and shrugged.
Keisuke shook the warrant and peered over his shoulder.
With a thousand-yard stare, Ami glared at the far wall. She had been lethargic since her adrenaline had given out and Haru’s threat had sunk in. Despite Keisuke telling Ami several times that it wouldn’t happen, she still fell to the depression.
I guess I have to do this by myself. Keisuke inhaled the pine-lemon scent that hung in the air and stepped forward. She is usually much better at this tactic … . “Listen here, friends … .”
The three men looked at each other, and the shortest among them stepped forward. He snarled and tilted his head sideways, looking up into Keisuke’s eyes. “We don’t care what kind of warrant you have; you can’t go into the vault.”
Keisuke poked the little man in the chest. “We’re going in there one way or another.” That sounded terrible.
After grinding his left foot against the red carpet, the small man’s eyes shot back towards his friends. “You have no right to threaten —”
With both hands, Keisuke shoved the little man to the ground. He stopped himself from grimacing but not by much. That felt kind of good. “It’s not a threat … .” I can now see why Ami is always bullying people. Before growling, he bared his teeth and stepped forward. “It’s a promise, friend.”
The two other men moved up beside Keisuke.
Keisuke reached into his stomach with his mind. He grabbed ahold of the potatoes and prepared his stomach-oven.
The air felt thicker. Harder to breathe.
His heart thumped.
A long moment of silence passed.
The biggest of the three men lifted his hands.
A rumbling sound came from behind Keisuke.
He spun just in time, to see Ami shuffle across the room and come face to face with the big clerk.
Ami’s nostrils flared, and she bared her teeth, yet her eyes still held the same, distant expression. “Excuse me … why have we not been allowed access to the vault yet?”
A shiver zipped from Keisuke’s neck to his heels. Scary … .
“I have somewhere else to be and need to get this done.”
By the time that the two standing men nodded, sweat glistened across their brows. “You,” the two said as one, “may … enter, but … we have to tell our bosses.”
“I do not care.” Ami pushed past the men, walking towards the vault.
She’s good. Keisuke tried not to grin before rushing off to catch up to Ami.
While John lay in his solitary bed, he counted the dots on the ceiling for the tenth time. Is this my punishment?
“No,” Darkness said, “your mother deserved what she got.”
John choked when the words hit him. In a sudden jerk of motion, he rolled from the bed and crashed into the floor.
A fire burned in his nose, and his eyes watered. By the time a warm, sticky liquid flowed onto his upper-lip, air no longer flowed in through his nostrils. Salty and metallic flavors mixed in his mouth, and he wanted to gag but refrained by the narrowest of margins. He deserved worse than this, didn’t he?
“You are not at fault here!” Darkness’s voice bounded from one side of John’s brain to the other like a cowbell on a string. “Your mother was just as evil as Hyuga and more to blame for leaving you on your own than Ami, Keisuke and Taisei.”
John wanted to writhe about on the ground but remained motionless instead. Stop blaming my friends. How could they even know I had magical powers?
“I don’t know, but they did and are just as much to blame as your mother.”
Stop saying that!
“Then admit it’s true.”
It’s not true! Ami … Keisuke and Taisei are innocent. … And my mother … I’m sure she had a good reason for doing what she did. The excuse rang hollow in John’s thoughts, but he tried to stand by them. What else could he do?
“Your life would be much more peaceful if you would just stop blaming yourself for things that aren’t your fault.”
John pushed himself up and wiped the blood from his nose. You’re right … . He climbed back into the bed and wrapped the thin covers around his body. His chest heaved. It’s just … .
“Just that you want to trust someone? That you want to have that one person in your life who only thinks about you and goes out of their way, to be there for you?”
Yeah … .
The cell grew colder. The walls appeared to be made of ice.
John shivered and curled up into a ball. After my mother … died, I thought that Zack would be that reliable friend.
“But Zack moved to Japan before you could, and you never really spoke to him after moving over yourself.”
John nodded. Then there was Taisei … .
“And he betrayed you in the courtroom, piling the evidence against you.”
Tears flowed off of John’s cheeks and onto the white pillow. Soon after meeting Taisei, a chance encounter on a train introduced me to Ami and Keisuke … .
“Chance?” Darkness laughed. “Chance my ass. They set you up! They clearly followed you. Then waited to pounce on you like a wounded Zebra.”
No they didn’t.
“They betrayed you by leaving you out there on a cliff to discover who you were on your own. In the end, they are clearly to blame for you being in here. Though —”
No they aren’t!
“I’m telling you … they knew you were a Chef. They know about Hyuga” Darkness released a low, rumbling growl followed by the sound of teeth grinding.
And of course … the most recent failure in my life was Hyuga.
“You found someone to take you away from this life, to be the rock that only thinks about you and your talents … then … .
John swallowed. Then he betrayed me. I have no one in my life to rely on. No one —
“You are forgetting one person.”
After blinking, John narrowed his eyes and straightened out in the bed. For some reason, the thought of having someone in his life, comforted him. Who?
“The gorgeous Haru.”
John’s heart skipped a beat. Everything went still. Then, his pulse began to race, and a heat rushed into his face. Soon the fire running through his veins moved down between his legs. He became erect.
“My thoughts exactly.”
“She helped you end another shitty relationship before it could get too far along.”
John’s breath caught. He licked his lips. I guess you’re right, but … she still raped me … .
“Better than trying to kill you or leave you to rot in jail.”
I guess — John relived the memories of that night.
Haru had slipped something into his beer — or so he suspected due to how quickly he became blacked-out drunk that night — and dragged him into a nearby Love Hotel called The Misty River. There, she took advantage of his inability to think straight and fight back, taking several pictures as evidence of John cheating.
Unfortunately, it was the most passionate night John had ever experienced, so it stuck in his mind through the paralyzing drunk haze. He felt a connection with Haru, and it was more than just being inside her. Afterwards, he could only think about her. Even when sleeping with Sara — his girlfriend at the time — he imagined Haru, despite trying not to.
The next time they had met — sober — she showed him the pictures, though he didn’t need to see them as the memory was vivid in his mind. She told him that she didn’t believe that Sara was a good match for him, and if he didn’t break up with her, she would show Sara the pictures. She tried to say something else, but another woman — Keisuke’s girlfriend, Moe — rushed over to Haru and pulled her away before she could speak.
John had been thinking about breaking up with Sara anyway, but this felt a bit forced. In the end, he broke up with Sara but had avoided contacting Haru after the deed was done. Then … Hyuga … .
A growling voice snapped John out of his memories.
After sighing, John rubbed at his temples. — you’re right. Haru did only seem to have my best interest in mind.
Darkness made a smacking noise. “In retrospect, I think —”
Clapping echoed from the other side of the room.
John started, spinning to see Hyuga. His breath caught.
Ami shuffled through the vault, though her mind was somewhere else. Despite the gold surrounding her, nothing registered in her mind. I … .
The fight with Moe still boiled her blood. If she would not help John, then Ami would. Moe’s whole argument was stupid. Just because the cards were stacked against him, did not mean that they should not try.
Rage flushed Ami’s face and threatened to snap her out of this gloomy, emotional hangover.
Within the anger, Haru’s words echoed inside of Ami’s head. The night when John was surprisingly so drunk he could not even form coherent sentences —the night of the rape — replayed in her thoughts.
Haru had been talking to John from the start, practically force feeding him drinks. One moment, John is dancing on top of the table with his shirt off —
More heat rushed into Ami’s face when the image became vivid in her mind. She reached down between her legs, stopping herself just before her fingers scored contact.
— the next moment, in the blink of an eye, both Haru and John were gone. It was only later, when he had asked for Ami’s advice that she realized what had gone down.
Ami screamed in frustration, voice bounding across stacks of gold bars. Why?
The echo held her mind in the present.
After gritting her teeth, Ami burned, and with her link, grabbed onto the dog collar around her neck. Why did she get to fuck him — Her senses expanded.
The tiniest of specs on the far wall exploded with details, magnified tenfold. Sounds became crisper. Scents more vivid. Her skin tingled as details and impurities in her clothing stood out against her skin. Even the sour gunk in her mouth burst with a variety of unforeseen flavors. Her mind adjusted and processed the greater volume of information as if these were her normal senses.
— while I am not even able to kiss him? Ami forced herself to focus, limiting her enhanced senses to sight and sound only.
The limitation expanded those two senses even further. Despite the enhanced senses, regular light did not act to blind her and normal sounds did not scream to deafen her. It was actually a trait of the item that she did not understand yet was grateful for.
Ami ground her teeth and scanned the room. “I will not lose him to that rapist bitch!”
Keisuke laughed from behind a stack of gold. “I would hope not.”
“What are you doing over there?” Ami stomped on the way, to find Keisuke. “Are you even —”
Keisuke crawled around on the dirty, off-white tiled floor. “Huh?” He looked up, meeting Ami’s gaze with glowing, green eyes. His link also touched a dog collar, but he had wrapped it around his arm. “What were you about to say?”
Keisuke grinned like the fool he was. “I can hear every inflection in your voice.”
After standing, Keisuke dusted his pants off. “Good to have you back … Ami.”
“Have you found anything?”
“Traces of clothing, a feather and used-gold dust.”
Ami bit into her lower-lip. “Well, now we are certain how they got in here.”
“From Moe’s —”
Through bared teeth, Ami growled.
“— reports,” Keisuke said, “Hyuga is a gold specialist.”
“So … this is your proof that Hyuga was here?”
“Part of it. Though, I want to get my hands on all the security tapes to make sure.”
“I thought Taisei said that he could not share that evidence with us?”
“He can’t —”
Ami chuckled. “But our warrant should allow us to get it directly from the source.”
“A lead is a lead, but I think we should scan over this place one more time.” She winked. “Just in case your shitty eyes missed something.”
Keisuke rolled his eyes. “That’s rich coming from the Long-Eyed … Ami.”
I’m going to kill him if he keeps using the nicknames everyone called me back in school. Before her temper could take hold, Ami took a deep breath. “Just shut up and search.”
With a smile splitting his stupid face, Keisuke nodded.
Ami combed through the stack that gold had been taken from. Bar after bar got tossed aside. The clinging clatter and mess piled up behind her, but no more clues.
Keisuke pushed at the wall where John had been found. He clearly expected something to pop out of it.
What a fuck-tard. Ami spun to inspect another stack of gold and her foot caught on the mess she had created.
Air rushed past her face.
She squealed, switching her link to the ballpoint pen in her pocket just before colliding with a stack of gold bars — head first.
The clang exploded throughout the vault, and Keisuke turned to stare at Ami who writhed on the ground.
Ami moved to switch her link back when something reflected in the light, in front of her. “No … .” Before fear caused her to stop burning, she extended her hand and grabbed the small, crystal vial. Her teeth began to chatter.
John pushed himself out of bed and licked his lips. “What are you doing here?”
Hyuga scanned the cell. “Coming to ask you for your answer.”
“My answer?” John narrowed his eyes.
The cold bed rail pressed into the back of John’s legs.
After shivering, John stepped forward.
Darkness howled. “Kill! Kill him! Kill him now!”
John shook his head.
While pursing his lips, Hyuga arched an eyebrow. “So, you’d rather rot?”
Once the implication replayed in John’s mind, he blinked. “Sorry, I don’t even know what you’re talking about.”
“Ah, I see.” Hyuga crossed the room in the blink of an eye and reached out, grabbing onto John’s head. “A bit of head trauma and other injuries clouding your memory.” His eyes glowed red just before the scent of burned potatoes filled the cell. “Don’t move.” His link reached into his pocket and touched something that John couldn’t see.
Prayer beads. For some reason, John could see them now.
Flashes of hot and cold ripped through John’s body. His muscles convulsed. Something popped, snapped and hissed.
John yelped. Invisible needles of agony pierced every inch of his body.
A jolt of energy moved from Hyuga’s touch to the tips of John’s toes.
Gritting his teeth, John convulsed. His mind began to clear. What is he doing?
Darkness made a grinding noise. “He is giving us the opportunity to rip out his heart and feed it to him.”
A compulsion to strike Hyuga down washed over John.
John began to move his reinvigorated muscles and froze. While ignoring Darkness, he inhaled through his nose. “Did you … just heal me?”
Hyuga grinned. “Of course. I can’t have you running around like a spoiled pack of meat.”
“I don’t get it.”
“Sorry.” Hyuga shrugged. “Older reference I guess.”
Just how old are you? Once John remembered what was said the last time they had spoken, he glanced between the lumpy prison-bed and Hyuga. Anything is better than this … right?
“No! No, no no!” Darkness sounded as if it were thrashing about against some unseen bonds. “We have a way to escape! We don’t need him!”
And if they don’t feed us potatoes before the trial or sentencing?
Darkness scoffed. “You have a point. … And … I guess this will keep us close enough to kill him.”
John swallowed. I’m not killing anyone.
Hyuga arched an eyebrow.
After a long moment, John nodded. “I have thought about my future. I will —”
“— join you and create a better world.” John licked his lips. “I will no longer hesitate.”
Hyuga’s smile spread until it reached his eyes. “Good.” He held out a hand. “Shall we go? I have a lot to teach you.”
John took a deep breath and took Hyuga’s hand. Together, they walked through the wall and out jail.
With an open mouth, Ami gaped at the crystal vial that she held in her hand. This would be impossible unless John trusted Hyuga … .
The clank of more gold announced Keisuke’s clumsy stumble to reach Ami. Despite his clear lack of effort earlier, he appeared to be out of breath. His chest heaved, and he rested his hands on his knees.
“Stop playing around.” Ami curled her toes. John couldn’t actually be working with Hyuga, could he? The color drained from her face, and a sickness twisted her stomach in knots.
“I’m not.” Straining, Keisuke stood up straight.
While coming through the memories of her time with John in the prison, Ami ignored Keisuke. She once again found herself getting hot. Recalling how his skin felt and any exposed flesh she saw, she scanned his body.
Ami shook herself from her memories.
“What has you so terrified?” Keisuke placed a hand on Ami’s shoulder.
Yelping, Ami started and batted Keisuke’s hand away.
Keisuke glared at her. “Are you okay?”
“I do not remember seeing any cuts, scrapes or puncture wounds on John’s body when I visited him, but I did not have such a good look.”
After grinning, Keisuke slid in close to Ami and nudged her in the side. “Are you asking me what his body l—”
Ami held up the crystal vial so that Keisuke could see it clearly. “Do you remember seeing any cuts, scrapes or puncture wounds anywhere on John’s body?”
Keisuke shook his head and his eyes stopped glowing. “Is that what I think it is?”
“Does it look like anything else, moron?”
“Now that I think about it, John did have bandages around his fists, but I think thought it was from punching the wall —” Keisuke pointed to the section of the wall that he had been dry humping. “— over there. It was washed, but blood is hard to completely wash away.”
Keisuke’s face flushed. “Where do you get off bossing me around?”
Ami put her hands on her hips. “Because I am stronger than you?” The withdrawals must have just kicked in.
With his fists clenched tight, Keisuke stepped forward. “Do you really believe so?” He flicked one of elemental bells at his waist. Altogether, there were twenty.
“I know so. Even with your toys, I would crush you.”
“You wish … .”
“What to try me?”
Keisuke opened his mouth as if to accept the challenge.
Ami turned to the vault’s entrance and pocketed the crystal vial.
A pair of large, yakuza men stepped into the vault. They wore the standard, shiny white suits with black inlays. Both had shaved their heads bald, but one had a scar running from his forehead to his chin.
A silence washed over the room, and the air between them seemed to draw taut like a rubber-band.
Ami took a step forward, feeling her rage and frustration overwhelm her.
Keisuke gathers himself and pushes the thoughtless burst of emotion that acted as a side-effect of cutting the stomach-oven off. What are the yakuza doing here?
Ami marched forward, stomping thunder with every step. Scars and Baby-face both crossed their arms, glaring at her. The tension was thick enough to make dinner out of. That along with the odd, grave-flower-scented perfume that the yakuza men wore, drew bile into the back of Keisuke’s mouth.
Brushing his tongue across his teeth to stop himself from vomiting, Keisuke reached out and grabbed Ami by the wrist. He leaned in close. “What do you think you’re doing?”
After turning, Ami glared murder at Keisuke. “Clearing out the rabble.”
“The last thing we need is a fight interrupting our investigation.”
“As far as I can tell, we are done in here.”
She’s right. “You should still —”
Scars coughed. “Are you two lovebirds done making out.” The gravelly tones in his voice made his words smash together like a pair of rocks.
Vomit swished around in Keisuke’s mouth, and he released Ami’s hand as if she had the plague. After swallowing, he waved his hands and shook his head. “No, no, no. That would never happen.”
Ami growled. “The two of you are hampering an official investigation.” She spat a wad of snot in their direction. “I suggest you two get out of here before this turns ugly … like that misshapen scar.”
Scars’s muscles tightened, and he bared his teeth. “What was that, bitch?”
“You heard me, you ugly piece of shit.”
After rolling his neck, Scars pounded his left fist against his right palm. “I’m —”
Baby-face tapped scars on the shoulder. “Stay focused.” His voice was high-pitched and childlike. “Remember … We are here to find Mr H.”
Keisuke clapped his hands. “Well .., this is a wonderful development.”
Scars and Baby-face glanced at each other. “What?” they asked as one with their vastly different voices creating an awkward melody.
“It’s just that we are also looking for Mr H.” Keisuke grinned. “What I mean is that Hyuga belongs to us.”
Baby-face shook his head. “Our boss disagrees.”
“And which boss would that be?”
Scars shushed Baby-face. While glaring at Ami, he growled. “Let’s just throw them out with the trash.”
Keisuke shook his head. I guess I can question them after Ami is done … .
Once Baby-face nodded, the two charged forward.
After sighing, Keisuke slipped around a pile of gold and kicked Baby-face in the knee. I should probably help.
Baby-face stumbled forward and crashed into a thin stack of gold, toppling it onto the floor. He pushed himself up, surrounded by chunks of gold.
Of the sixty stacks of neatly arranged, forest-like piles of gold, four lay splattered across the floor. The one at Baby-face’s feet. The one Ami had dug through earlier. The one that Hyuga had stolen from. And the one that Ami had just thrown Scars into. There was a clear path between Keisuke and Baby-face. On top of that, the stomach-high mounds made hiding a near impossibility.
While cracking his knuckles, Baby-face snarled. “You are going to pay for that.”
“Why?” Keisuke pursed his lips. “You can’t honestly think that I’d let you double team … her … did you?” Honestly though, I probably should have.
Baby-face barreled forward, cocking his fist back.
Keisuke ducked under the massive fist.
The wind felt sharp when it bristled against his neck.
Glad I didn’t get hit by that. After turning to the side, Keisuke uppercutted Baby-face in the elbow.
Baby-face screamed as his elbow snapped, and his right arm went limp.
That really worked. A smile found its way onto Keisuke’s face just before a large fist did.
Turning his hips, Baby-face put all his weight behind his left-handed strike.
Keisuke flew backwards and crashed into a pile of gold.
Spikes of agony dug into his back and knocked the wind out of him.
While his heart thumped, Keisuke gasped for air. His muscles quivered.
By the time his ass hit the ground, blood rolled down from his nose and into his mouth.
Keisuke spat the vile, metallic-tasting liquid out while trying to gather himself. This hurts way too much.
Baby-face shuffled over to Keisuke and lifted his foot. “It’s time to put you out of your misery.”
Despite the pain, Keisuke flattened out.
Stray bars of gold poked into his back, but he ignored them.
Keisuke kicked Baby-face in the knee.
A pressure slammed into his foot.
Snap! Snap! Snap!
When three of his toes bent the wrong way, Keisuke screamed. What the fuck?
Baby-face laughed. “You will not fool me with the same trick twice in —”
Baby-face fell forward, and his overbearing weight crashed into Keisuke.
Not the attack Keisuke had expected but effective nonetheless. The gold bars in his back sandwiched him like a hole-punch. He squealed.
Long moments passed.
Keisuke’s head swam, and his eyes moved to roll into the back of his head. Next time … Ami’s on her own … .
A spiraling blackness crept up from the sides of his vision.
Then, for some reason, the pressure slackened.
Keisuke laughed when he saw Ami pulling Baby-face off of him. Well isn’t that a bitch … . Saved by a long-eyed gorilla with a bar of gold.
Ami pulled Keisuke to his feet. “How stupid are you?”
“Fuck you too, Ami.” Keisuke opened his mouth to say more when the pounding of boots to stone drew his attention to the vault’s entrance.
A large contingent of yakuza men charged inside.
“I’m not in the right shape to play nice.” Keisuke wiped the blood from his nose and hobbled forward. Then … he burned.
Next: BURNING Chapter 24