Cover: C.T. McMillan
Model: Megan Crawford (ING: @mleighmoon)
Copyright 2018 by C.T. McMillan
All Rights Reserved
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I could not have come this far without my family encouraging me to pursue my ambition to be a writer.
To Razor’ and ’19 for providing inspiration.
Kiddo shook the last flecks of blood from Takashi’s head. Retracting the blade she pocketed the knife and searched through his pockets. After retrieving his phone she limped back toward her stool.
“Small bag and some dry rags,” she said. The Gori’s watched her stagger to her place at the end of the bar like she was Jesus swinging his ass across a lake. Kiddo put the head and phone on the bar before picking up her sword from the floor. That’s when she noticed everyone staring. “Please?”
Suddenly they tired to look busy. Lotch passed his rag over then bent down for a fresh stack from the laundry. Kiddo ran her sword blade through the rag, followed by the knife, before one Gori put a small black plastic bag by Takashi’s head.
“Alright, guys,” said Lotch struggling to find the words. “Get the big trash bags inna back and the bleach–“
“Gimme the first aid kit instead,” said Kiddo.
“You’re gonna need more than band aids, Pink,” he said as a Gori passed her a white tin with a red cross on the lid.
“Lemme put in a call to Arn and get you–“ began another Gori.
“What did I say?”
Her tone and the look in her eyes made everyone freeze. They’d never heard her talk or look so serious. In a few seconds of shock they watched her pull her jeans down and shirt off. They were kind enough to look the other way, but Kiddo didn’t care if they saw her goods.
“Leave the bodies,” she went on, wiping the cuts with a fresh rag. “You showed up for the funeral and found them like this and that someone wiped the camera feed from this morning.”
She didn’t have to say more for them to understand, two Goris making for the back room behind the bar.
“What else?” asked Lotch.
Last thing she wanted was to keep talking, wiping her arms like cleaning a car. “Call the cops after I leave. The Jap capos ‘ill know it was me, but they’ll keep it in the family ‘cause we own the cops.” She groaned while wrapping herself in gauze. “All the heat will be on me.”
“And after that–“
Kiddo scoffed. “I don’t know, Lotch! Do what you like. This has nothing to do with business or the line of succession. This is all mine. Just an ole fashion vendetta against whoever made Enzo blow his brains out. Tak was just a loose end.”
“Well, you’re leaving this ship with no captain. How we gonna stay on course if the last guy just lost his friggin’ head?”
Kiddo smirked as she fastened her belt. “Seems you’re ready to mutiny. Be my guest. I’m going over board.”
Lotch nodded with a short sigh. “You can say that again.”
Rather than put on her shirt Kiddo slipped into her pea coat and wrapped her shirt around Takashi’s head. Once the whole thing was in the bag, it looked like dirty laundry.
“I don’t wanna see or hear about any of you helping me,” she said clipping her sword to her belt. Then Kiddo put on her cap and glasses and limped to the front door. She almost forgot to slip on her gloves before typing in the new password. “I was never here.”
The cold breeze felt good on her cuts through the fabric as she limped down the sidewalk. Kiddo thumbed through Takashi’s phone to recent calls and put the speaker to her ear.
“Stop calling me, Sterling,” said Monty after a couple rings.
“He’s dead. You’re next.”
Monty looked at the phone after pulling it away with a flat grin. “Sterling’s dead,” he said in Japanese.
“And the guys we sent him with?” asked one Yak sitting across from him in the car.
“Let’s assume they’re dead too and I know who did it.” Monty raised his voice so the driver could hear him. “The Gorinni club.”
“But Boss Kyrii–“ said the same Yak.
“Did I stutter, boy?”
The driver answered by turning onto the next street.
The Yaks followed Monty up the sidewalk, blades and batons ready. When he turned the corner they almost ran into his back.
From curb to curb the whole front of Le Speak was stacked with blue and whites and a pair of quad-peds hitched to lampposts. Investigators in rubber coveralls were going in and out while one cop was posted at each end of the sidewalk. Monty and his boys stood like rabbits trying to evade a predator as Detective Pierce crossed the street with her portly partner Dom at her back. She was swiping through a tablet, but glanced at the Yaks in a brief pause. It was enough to make Monty about-face back the way they came.
“Call the boss,” he said.
Investigators dotted the club, taking pictures and flashing faces with hand-scanners, and marking evidence and blood splatters with numbered sticky notes. Lotch and the Goris were gathered and segregated on the clean half of the club as beat cops questioned them. The bodies and their assorted parts were covered in black sheets.
Pierce was putting on a pair of latex gloves by the time she reached the bottom of the stairs. “Now this is a proper mess.”
“True that,” said Dom slipping into his own, one over a fancy chrome hand. “Been a while since we had a turf war.”
“Then let’s collect some dog-tags. Dibs on the bodies.”
They bumped each other’s fists before separating. Dom made for the cops while Pierce stepped carefully around the splatter patterns to the body by the bar. Under the sheet she looked at the Yak’s crushed face, his remaining eye still open.
“Looks like the Jaws of Life did him in,” said the Investigator off the side flashing the bar top.
“More like Jaws of Death.”
He chuckled. “Good one.”
“You pull anything off that yet?” she asked pointing to the baton sticking out of the cranium of the Yak close by.
“We were gonna yank it outta him at the coroners before–“
“Scan it and get back to me in five.” She laid the sheet down and stood. “Whoever did this is very pissed off with weapons-grade or construction-rated mods. We’re bound to get designator prints off that handle.”
“What do you care?” said a Gori from the group across the club. “They’re Yakuza. They’re right where they friggin’ belong. Worse than us, if you ask me.” Those around him agreed with nods and mutters.
“You’re right, punk, we really don’t care,” said Pierce crossing over to the kid. “What they don’t show you on those awful police procedurals is how little a few dead bodies fazes us on the daily. We’re janitors with better pay and fancier uniforms. Mopping up a massacre is just part of the job.” Now she was right in front of him and the kid was wishing he didn’t open his mouth. “But every now and then we get a little curious and decide to turn our brains on. Can’t say the same for the guys you have on the payroll.”
The uniforms in earshot, including Dom, looked nervous.
“I’ve never taken a bribe in my life,’ said the closest beat cop.
“Don’t incriminate yourself, Jacobs,” said Pierce with a smile before turning back to the Goris. “Now, what’s got me curious is your boss, the new guy from what I read on the way here, is sitting over there without his head. Still haven’t found the head. And none of you seem the least bit perturbed the guy who writes your checks is dead. I take it you didn’t like the guy? I’m guessing Godfather Cicero was the favorite and this guy wasn’t. Better question, where’s Volk? She was Cicero’s number three after that guy. I wonder how she felt about the new–
“That’s what a chain of command is for, Detective,” said Lotch. “Just ‘cause he’s dead doesn’t mean the ball stops rolling.”
“Wouldn’t be organized crime without organization, I guess. Got something you can tell me, old man?”
“I can tell ya we found the place like this. Not the how.”
Pierce looked at Dom.
“That’s what they’re all saying,” he said.
“Figures. How long did it take to get your stories straight before calling 9-1-1? Probably not long given all the officers in your pocket–“
“Wanna do your job and keep patronizing us, Detective?” snapped Lotch.
“I would, but you guys have been so generous feeding my curiosity. See, if none of you were here when these poor Japanese waiters were butchered like sushi in your own club,” Pierce pointed to a Gori at the margins without looking at him, “explain the blood on that kid’s lapel.”
All the attention made his cheeks turn read, his forehead already glistening with sweat. The guys around him looked like they wanted to tear him apart.
“Dominic, badge 1947,” said Dom into his phone. “Need a paddy wagon at Madison and 8th. Full house.”
“Real gangsters are great liars,” said Pierce with a smirk. “Should’ve watched more movies.”
About the same time she walked away the Investigator came under the police tape around the entrance, tablet in hand.
“Got a name for you, Pierce,” he said passing it to her waxy Android hand. “Ramos, Leeland. Reported a break-in at his gun store in NewCal seven years ago. One of the items was a pair of milsurp Model C arm mods. Their D-prints are an exact match to the ones I pulled from the baton.”
“Did they catch the guy that broke in?”
“Nothing in the database.”
“Then let’s give the locals cops a call.”
The hotel was a “no questions asked” kind of joint; the kind husbands brought their favorite hookers because regular cathouses keep a customer registry. It’s not hard to ask the front desk for a name when you come up crying with a wedding ring. The old lady in the dingy lobby at reception was glued to a ragged paperback when Kiddo limped through the revolving door, carrying the bag. The lady gave her a glance before she boarded the elevator.
She’d been there before heading to Le Speak bearing the essentials. Canvas bags sat on the bed when Kiddo got to her room and locked the door. One bag had medical supplies, fresh clothes, and another had tools from Enzo’s workbench with cleaning supplies. There were also fresh towels she wouldn’t feel bad about throwing away once they were stained crimson.
First thing she did was limp to the mini-fridge and gulp down a bottle of chocolate meta-milk like she was about to die of thirst. Killing thirteen people will take a lot out of a Modded person, especially when you push your gear as far as Kiddo. After breathing hard from finishing the bottle she noticed the red lights on both wrists blinking and pulled off her coat.
When she pressed the light on her left the plating of the arm opened in half with a burst of steam. Between the wrist and spinner was a twisted wrap of three myomer cells bonded partly to armature. They looked like muscle, but black and anything but organic. They flexed slightly when Kiddo moved her fingers and slowly unwrapped and expanded. She opened the other arm then started to strip again.
The toilet was up in the bathroom and filled with bloody cotton balls. On the floor sat the old gauze in a pile and a bottle of hydrogen peroxide on the sink. The M-cells had cooled by the time Kiddo decided to jump in the shower. She stood under the head watching blood flow into the drain.
The stab wound in her chest kept catching her eye. It was just above her breast and angled in a way it would look fashionable once it scarred. Would make a great conversation piece once she decided to sleep with someone again. With her thumb she traced the edge of the wound as the blood slowed to a crawl down her lean torso. The warm water helped the pain everywhere else, but she couldn’t feel the stab anymore.
Kiddo cut the shower, but kept the faucet running when she grabbed the stable gun. With a dry towel she dabbed the stab dry and stapled it closed, pinching the edges together to make sure it was tight. She worked down to her legs, wincing every time the staples clicked into her skin. Kiddo wet another small towel to wipe down whatever blood remained.
The slash on her back required more finesse. She was smart enough to bring her hand mirror from home and stood with her back to the sink mirror. With one free hand she had to pinch a section of the cut before putting down the mirror for the staple gun. Kiddo could see her back in the sink mirror, but her view wasn’t as precise as she liked.
Four yards worth of fresh gauze later she came walking out of the bathroom with a towel around her waist and one draped over her shoulders. She sat on one of the course chairs by the window in front of a coffee table where Takashi’s head sat in the bag. Her deck was lying right by it with a neural jack ready.
Kiddo folded Takashi’s right ear and plugged into the port hidden in his hair. A white wheel spun against black on the phone screen before it turned aqua-blue. Blown out Japanese text appeared against the blue with an English subtitle that read “Recall Services.” Kiddo thumbed the text before the title dissipated into a list of small pictures with dates in descending order.
She snickered. “Should’ve set a password, Tak.”
Kiddo thumbed the second picture that blew up to fit her screen, forcing her to turn the phone sideways. The footage had a slight curve, going black every time Takashi blinked. She turned up the sound and reached for an e-cig on the table. When he pulled his dick out to jack it Kiddo ran her finger across the screen to fast forward. She sped past that morning when he picked her up, the flight to the meeting, but watched Takashi cut his pinky off over and over with a smile.
Kiddo was more concerned about later that day, scanning through hours of footage that did not immediately catch her eye. He flew to a hospital to get his stump stitched before picking up a prescription at the pharmacy. Then that night at the club he shook hands with customers, the band, and went over the books in the office. Kiddo scanned backwards to just after the meeting and spotted a familiar number when Takashi took out his phone while at the hospital.
Monty, I need help. She’s gonna kill me.
You know who! Pinkerton’s on the edge. She knows where I live and I’m not gonna wake up tomorrow.
Raise your voice to me again and it’ll be me that puts you to sleep.
Okay. Okay. I’m sorry, but I know this broad like the back of my hand and she’s gonna snap–
The footage showed Takashi moving the phone away before Kiddo scanned ahead to another call.
I’m not kidding, Monty. She’s a psychopath. I’ve known a few in my time and she’s the worst. For the love of God, she can’t be trusted. Let me speak to Boss Kyrii. Please get back to me when you get this.
The last call came just before he went to bed.
You beg like a whipped cuck.
Pardon me that your boss’s latest investment is in fear of one of his own employees.
Do it yourself. Maybe you’ll do a better job than with Cicero.
I’m serious! She’s gonna kill me the first chance she gets.
A moment of pause was taken up by a sigh from Monty.
Unlike most of you Gorinni pricks I respect Volk. She’s more Japanese than me and you combined. Had I made her the same offer I did you, she’d cut me to pieces in broad daylight or try, at least. Whatever you think of her, I couldn’t disagree more. So does the Shogun, which is why he declared her sawaranaide.
Aw, c’mon! Anata wa anata no kokoro o ushinai mashita ka?!
Anata no kuso kuchi o tojite! Moichido sonoyoni watashi ni hanashite, watashi wa anata no nodo o hirakimasu!… That envelope he gave her had ten grand. Everyone knows she was saving up to settle down with a kid and her Android. Volk is honorable and she’ll keep her hands to herself if it means getting a chance at her dream. Since she’s untouchable, you’ll have to do it yourself or pay someone. Either way, if she dies, make sure we don’t find you, Sterling. And don’t call me ever again.
The call ended and Kiddo sat back looking like she just finished a race. Instead of a victory it was closure, but then it opened a door she didn’t know to keep shut. She took a long drag from her e-cig and held it between her lips with a slow exhale.
Blade Runner, Directed by Ridley Scott
13 Assassins, Directed by Takashi Miike
Old Boy, Directed by Chan-wook Park
Ghost in the Shell, Directed by Mamoru Oshii
Metropolis, Directed by Rintaro
Yojimbo, Directed by Akira Kurosawa
A Touch of Evil, Directed by Orson Welles
Battle Angel Alita, By Yukito Kishiro
On the Waterfront, Directed by Elia Kazan
About the Author
C.T. is a Florida native and proud gun owner. He is a fan of all things military, comic books, and a self-proclaimed movie buff. In his off-time C.T. reviews movies on a blog no one reads and writes screenplays that will never get made, but enjoys it nonetheless. He hopes this book thing will actually pay off so he can do it forever.