I am putting together my second collection of short stories, Toxic Reality (due in September), going through them one last time before turning them over to my editor Joy Sillesen of StonyHill Productions.
I'm enjoying the process, although weeding out stories that ... aren't quite there ... has been like killing my children. I wrote this story for Dark Valentine's "Dark Water" fiction frenzy in the spring. I still like it.
They made a mistake when they took Chika.
Her name meant “near and dear” and so she was to Akihiro Tsukimoto. They had known each other since childhood and now, when both were in the winter of their lives, she remained his most trusted confidante, his closest companion, and his only friend.
Unlike Hiro, whose bones were brittle and whose hair was iron gray, Chika seemed ageless, as supple in her tenth decade as she’d been as a fry. And she was beautiful, her coloration still vivid. She was black, red, and white, a Showa Sanshoku, one of the first of her kind and given to Hiro’s father by Emperor Showa himself.
His father had given Chika to Hiro on his tenth birthday, the same day he’d taken his life in the old samurai way. A gift given for a gift taken away. Only Chika had seen Hiro cry and she kept his secrets.
It would not have been easy to abduct Chika. She was large for her breed, nearly 60 centimeters in length and heavy. Hiro hoped they hadn’t hurt her when they took her from the pond that had been her home for nearly a century. He was sure they’d been tempted to just club her over the head but knew they hadn’t because they’d sent him video of Chika swimming in a tank that was filled with murky water and much too small.
The ransom demand had come with the first video. The kidnappers wanted money and nothing more, which told Hiro he was dealing with amateurs and not a rival. They had to be skilled amateurs to have circumvented his state-of-the-art security system but their lack of imagination and ambition struck him as pathetic. It had been a bold move to take the only thing on earth Hiro loved and if the thieves had followed up their strike with a decisive blow, he would have respected them.
They would still have had to die, but he would have given them a swift and honorable death. Their own cowardice had sealed their doom and earned them a much more unpleasant fate.
Akihiro Tsukimoto was one of the most powerful “senior advisors” in Tokyo’s biggest crime syndicate. He had many “younger brothers” who would be happy to earn a favor from him. It was only a matter of time before Chika was back home and the thieves were in his hands. And then…and then there would be vengeance.
Koi are omnivores. He would feed them to Chika one bloody chunk at a time.