katana- rikki (13)

The remains of the battle.

The katana came down, whistling through the air, and finally connecting with the target. A beheaded body crumpled to the rocky soil, blood spewing from the severed jugular giving the air an eerie red mist. Blood covered Kazusanosuke Takeshi’s mask, but he paid no attention as he wiped off his katana and replaced it in its sheathe. Takeshi feared nothing, and thought little about death. Turning his back on the dead man he mounted his jet black horse. The rest of the samurai army mounted and paid their respects to the dead. The army rode off towards the rising sun, the beams of the dawn creating their silhouettes on the newly defined horizon, a fresh coat of splattered burgundy on their armor, and no expression behind their ghastly masks. Sweat streamed down Takeshi’s face, Watashi wa futatabi tatakau ​​ tame ni ikiru, I live to fight again.

 

Sorera wa subete shinde iru? They are all dead?” Takeshi’s daimyo asked. Takeshi solemnly nodded and brought out the enemy commanders head. The eyes were lifeless and blood splattered the face. Most of the blood had coagulated after the long ride back to the barracks, but the image was still a grim reminder as to what might happen to Takeshi someday, being the commander of his daimyo’s army. The head would be tacked to the wall, an example to any enemies who dare fight against him. After getting permission to leave, Takeshi slowly walked out of the room. “Take wa, ma~tsu te. Sugu ni futatabi tatakawanakereba naranai toki ga kuru. Watashi o shippai shinaide kudas.  Takeshi, wait. Soon comes the time when you must fight again. Do not fail me or you now what must happen.” The daimyo’s soft, gravelly voice called out. Takeshi nodded and pulled off his helmet.

The wakizashi is lethally sharp – 18 inches of pure killing power. Takeshi swung it down with blinding speed into the straw target, slicing it cleanly in half. If the target was a person, it would have sliced clean through the armor, skin, and deep through the flesh- an instant kill. He sheathed the blade with ease and turned to the other target, this time tearing out the katana and burying deep into the straw. He ripped the blade out then sliced five more times in mere seconds. Insutantokiru. Instant kill. “Takeshi sensei, Sore wa jikandes. Takeshi sir, it’s time.” Takeshi nodded to the man and pulled on his helmet, while sheathing the deadly 23 inches of razor sharp iron. He pulled the quiver over his head and picked up his bow and naginata. He walked outside and breathed in the brisk air. A few birds called, and shouts of training samurai could be heard in the distance, but otherwise all was quiet. Thin clouds with no describable shape coasted across the sky in the cool Japanese wind. He momentarily looked to his side and found a spider weaving its gossamer strings of death. “Anata wa sore o migi no jikandesu. You are right, it is time.” Takeshi’s breath rasped through his mask as he mounted the muscled steed.

The black horse galloped through the brutal scene. Takeshi had no hands on the horse and paid no attention to the men dying all around him. Katanas, Naginatas, and Wakizashis shimmered in the occasional sunlight that broke through the shapeless clouds. Screams of falling men and the clang of sword on sword echoed around the battlefield.  The smell of blood enveloped the air, but Takeshi rode on, the string of his bow taught and loaded with an arrow. His visibility through the small eyeholes of his helmet was poor, but his aim was true. His fingers itched to let go, Matte, matte, matte. Wait, wait, wait. Genzai! Now! He let go but felt the enemy naginata, as its blade penetrated his layered leather armor. Blood spurted from his wound and he fell from the horse. The enemy samurai pulled the blood coated naginata out and began dragging Takeshi. “Imaimashī, iya, onegaishimasu! Damn, please, no!” Takeshi shouted. Takeshi tasted blood. “Imaimashī, chōdo watashi o koros! Damn, just kill me!” Takeshi swore again. The enemy samurai continued dragging him, deaf to his protests.

Shine, die!” Takeshi screamed.

The wakizashi, glinted for a second before sinking into the other samurai. Takeshi stood, again oblivious to his pain and the blood spraying him. All he saw was what had happened. A majority of his men had died, and only a handful still fought. Takeshi staggered to his remaining men. “Taikyaku, Koko de watashitachi no jikan wa shūryō shimashita, retreat, our time here has ended.” Takeshi never feared anything, but what he knew must happen scared him. “TAIKYAKU! RETREAT!Takeshi screamed.

Sweat trickled down Takeshi’s face. He wore a clean white kimono, and his wound was healed. The daimyo’s eyes penetrated through him and seven other men dressed like Takeshi sat behind him. The small knife in front of him, a tantō, would soon be in him. “Anata ga shippai shimashita. Ni susumimasu. You failed. Go on.” Takeshi’s daimyo softly said, a hint of disappointment and disgust present. A droplet of sweat slowly eased down the curve of his nose. Seppuku, it was called- a punishment for failure, sin, or shame. Takeshi picked up the tantō and his hands quivered for a second in his hesitation before he plunged it into his abdomen. Blood exploded from his stomach and Takeshi gasped in shock and pain. His hands became slippery and warm, and a thin stream of crimson ran from his lips as his body doubled over. Takeshi’s best friend loomed over with the katana.

              The katana came down, whistling through the air, and finally connecting with the target. A beheaded body crumpled to the rocky soil, blood spewing from the severed jugular giving the air an eerie red mist.

Kazusanosuke Takeshi thought little about death.

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A Boy and His Truck- Rikki (12)

Finishing FlagsA boy sat in his small room, his back to the door.  The curtains were shut but the bright summer sun leaked through the striped curtains onto the boy, currently occupied with his toy cars.  He mocked races, his mouth perpetually vibrating, perpetually emitting the sounds of engines roaring, crashes, commentators and explosions. The vivid races paused every few minutes for the boy to catch his breath and allow his tingling lips to rest.  To a careful observer one would find that every race, through every intense drift and huge pileup, a red truck always won.  He sped each car individually across the carpet but always had his red truck’s speed the fastest.  Even if the truck was in last at one moment, it was just a “plan” by the driver to save up his “boosters” for the end to win the race.  Like many children had their special toys- stuffed animals, beloved lego pieces, super hero figurines, this was his special toy.  He had loved it since the day his father had bought it with glistening red paint on its hood and its spotless windshield, till now with its scratched up windshield, its slightly crooked wheel, little bits of paint scratched of the hood and battered bumper.  Everyday of the summer he would wake up, get ready for the breakfast (which he wolfed down) and get out his box of cars.  After he was finished choosing the right cars for the track whether it was off road or NASCAR, he took out his special red truck, always close at hand, and pushed all the unneeded things from the “track”. From then on the race followed his rules and imagination, but always had two winners… The boy and his little red truck…

memories – rikki (11)

Memories

Germany, Post World War II

Alfred Müller sat on his porch motionless. Motionless, but not dead. He was an old man, staring lifelessly into the night sky. He seemed at peace. Alfred had a problem. It was not a common dilemma, but was something else. He constantly remembered. Again and again painful memories erupted from his brain. Memories of the war, memories of his family. The memories were invincible forces, triggered by random events that could occur at any time. Maybe it was the fact that he had survived the war and his son hadn’t that haunted him. His son had been recruited at age fourteen by Nazis with Iron Crosses gleaming on their lapels, grasping equally gleaming weapons almost as big as themselves. For a reason unknown, a mist always covered parts of his memories. As crickets rang the alarm to announce it was night, a cool breeze blew over the small town.

Alfred rose to the sound of laughter and footsteps. He silently peered out of his window. His son stood outside. Not an adolescent as Alfred had last seen him but a young man! Tears fell like rain from Müller’s eyes. He quickly descended from the stairs and looked outside. His son, his dear son…was gone. A snowflake in the sun. A few minutes passed and Alfred returned to his home. “Why?” he asked quietly to himself in his mother tongue of German. He poured himself a cold cup of tea and slammed his fist on the table. “Why?!” he repeated, this time more loudly. “My son was there!” he said, tears now flowing freely down his wrinkled cheeks. Müller again went through his door and outside. He sat on his chair and held his cup to his lips with frail, trembling hands. As a man walked by Alfred asked him, “My son,” he stopped to clear his throat, “Rudolfo. Have you seen…him?”

“Rudolfo? I…Uh… Shouldn’t you know? Rudolfo…has been gone for years.” the man responded slowly. Alfred looked at the man with blood hound eyes and responded meekly, “No. I do not know. Not any more.” Looking slightly sad for Alfred, the man walked away slowly, humming a quiet tune.

Thunder shook the ground and rain tested the roof’s strength. Alfred was haunted by another memory. He couldn’t hold them back, the memories of the planes. The memories of bombs cascading from the sky erupted into Müller’s brain. Alfred shut the blinds and blew out the candle on the table. “Rudolfo! Come!” he yelled. “Come! The bombs!” Confused, Alfred fell to his knees on the scratched wooden floor. He couldn’t stop the memories; they came flooding in. He couldn’t stop the sound of planes overhead and the sound of bombs destroying innocent lives. “Rudolfo!” he screamed.

Alfred woke to the sound of light rain tapping on his roof. He unclenched his hand and staggered outside. For no reason, his heart rate doubled, then stopped. He stumbled into his chair. Alfred Müller sat on his porch motionless. Motionless. He stared lifelessly into the morning clouds. He seemed at peace. Birds rang the alarm to announce it was morning.

Alfred Müller had found his solution.

Starry – rikki (9)

Starry

A cool air blew across a small village in Europe, stars shown in the eerie moonlit night.  Wolves howled on a peak and then there was silence.  Three hours later a poor man named Jacques Singer stepped out of his bakery shop wearing a shaggy brown sweater.  He wiped his rose colored nose with his finger and walked into the sunlight.  Trees swayed in the tan and pink light, shaking their green leaves.

As he walked a small stray dog silently followed him. Jacques turned around and saw the dog, it whimpered and edged forward.  Jacques smiled and slid his wrinkled hand across the stray’s cold fur.  The dog nudged Jacques’ leg and scurried away.

The next morning he set out for his three o’clock a.m. walk, this time carrying biscuits for the stray dog.  The dog was hiding behind an earthen pot waiting to pounce on Jacques.  Once he walked past the pot, the stray playfully jumped at him.  He dropped the biscuits and the dog ate the buttery snacks.

Jacques was having a nicer life and began to love the dog more and more. He named the dog Starry.

One afternoon Jacques sat on his bed and heard a shattering of glass and an odd whimper.  He ran to the door and saw two men stealing food from his bakery and Starry on the floor bleeding.  On seeing Jacques, the two men ran out of the shop but Jacques ran to Starry.  Starry was breathing slowly and tears were pouring out of Jacques’ eyes.

Starry whimpered and then there was silence….

That damn Benjamin! – ronny (13)

Michael Crocker hit the street running, his long legs pumping and sweat dripping from his face. The lone policeman had no hope of catching him, his short legs jarring with every movement of his copious paunch. “Stop,” he gasped, and then gave up the race, cursing Michael for all he was worth. Michael kept running until he was far away. I really should have been named Michael Phelps: Land Edition, he thought wryly to himself. He stopped, gasping and panting. He looked around him- a deserted square with no suspicious Samaritans to complicate his life. He squatted to count the money in the bank bag; all in all, $12,000.00. Not a bad haul, he thought to himself. Not bad at all. He peered at the notes, determining if they were marked. They were as real as the hair on his head. He let out a whoop, then heard the police siren. Damn, he thought, and was off like a rocket. He looked behind him and saw the same policeman, now in a car and at an advantage. He cursed and ran, pushed past an elderly lady and a young man. He overturned a cart of hot chili, grabbing a Gatorade on the go and gulping it down for energy. The car persisted; blasting its horn and cutting through the startled traffic. Michael threw the finished bottle behind him and heard a cry of pain. Oops, he thought. Time enough for sympathy later; he had to escape, didn’t he? He kept running, then saw a dark alleyway perpendicular to the sidewalk. He dove in, and jogged to the end. It was a T-junction, and he chose left. He jogged into another plaza. There was nobody in here but an old homeless guy in a faded red sweatshirt, holding a sign. He read the sign suspiciously (Vietnam vetaran, have marci on old man. Plees give mone). Michael heard the sirens getting closer, heard one saying, “I have him. He’s on Second Street.” Michael reached into…

The bag contained police equipment. Officer Warnes grunted with satisfaction, having felt his favorite truncheon within. He pulled it out, and said to the police, “Spread out in pairs and search for a man wearing a blue jacket and with 12,000 bucks in cash. Shouldn’t be too hard to find. Call in with you radios once you find him. Understood?” They nodded. “Let’s go!”

Barely ten minutes later, Constable Johnson told Warnes, “I have him. He’s on Second Street.” Then, “Hold it there, sonny boy! Oh shit, he’s running again. Stop! Oh…man…I’m…getting…too…” Johnson’s voice cut off suddenly with an “OOF”, as if he had been…

Kicked in the gut, Officer Johnson fell with an “OOF”. Michael retracted his foot, swearing under his breath. Michael didn’t really want to hurt the old officer, but there was no other choice. He turned and ran again, his breath now coming in ragged gasps. Still, sweat pouring down his throat and into his shirt, he ran, hearing the cops behind him. He saw a garbage can in his way, tried to hurdle it but tripped and fell to the ground, knocking the garbage onto the streets. He stumbled to his knees. The cop right behind him fell on his face, saying…

“Shit.” Warnes was now seriously pissed off. The only thing on the Second Street Plaza was an old fountain that had ceased to work, and a cardboard sign saying ‘Vietnam vetaran, have marci on old man. Plees give mone.’ Warnes spat on it. This had been his promotion day, so why, oh, why had that idiot Johnson misled him? There was nobody here. Why today of all days? He walked back towards the street to see Officer Johnson lying on the ground …

Gasping for air, Michael looked back to see one cop still on his tail. He turned his head to see a metal telephone pole right ahead. He ran straight into it and knocked himself to the ground. The cop skidded to a stop and handcuffed him. Michael opened his eyes. The cop grinned and said, “Got you, you son of a racehorse.” Michael grinned back. The cop opened the bag. “Damn…this is a whole lot of money. I guess that I could maybe…” Officer Warnes gave him a good kick in the ass. It hurt. “You did a fine job catching this little Marlin, but if I see you look at that bag, I’ll beat the guts outta you. Is that clear?” “Yes, sir.”

Warnes opened the bag. “There should be about, how much was it? Twelve thousand. Well, pack this off to the bank, and pack this one off to the jailhouse,” he said to a cop. “Eleven thousand nine hundred”, spat Michael. “What?” “Eleven thousand nine hundred”, Michael repeated. “That’s a mighty strange sum of money, son.” Michael grinned, “Well, I might have left one hundred dollar bill in the bank, or it might have been in a chili bowl or on the street.” “Strange, seeing as they were all packed in neat bundles, ten bills to a bundle.” The Officer was getting tense now. “Give it to me, now.” “Well, I don’t have it.” They searched him. He did have one cent, but it was really grubby. No Benjamin. “Sonny, you better tell me where that damn Benjamin is.” “I swear on the Holy Bible that it is somewhere in this city, ” he taunted. “Damn it, son where the hell is it?” “Why do you care so much?” “Because if I don’t return every cent to the bank, my promotion is history! And if I don’t get this promotion, then I will be solidly indebted!”

The policeman that dropped the bag off at the bank came back, panting. “Kid, do me a favor and run back to the bank. Ask them how much was in the bag.” The kid replied, “No need for that, Officer. They said that is was one hundred dollars short of the sum stolen, and that they will report us if they don’t get the money back.” “Goddamn it, kid.” The guy shrugged. “Well, one of us had better cough up some money.” The cops now shied away, saying stuff like, “Well, I dunno, I mean I didn’t really do anything…You were the one who told that guy to go drop it off…Yeah! Why didn’t you check it?” “Okay, okay shut up all of you. How bout we all pitch in a couple of bucks, huh?” “Okay.” They pitched in; all in all one hundred and two bucks. “Good. Now I’ll return this to the bank. Pack this rat up in a nice cozy jail cell.”

Two minutes later, Officer Warnes realized he was hungry. He wandered to Burger King, brushing past a hobo in a faded red sweatshirt. He walked up to the counter. “Umm, I think I’ll have the number one with large fries.” The clerk asked him in a pissed-off voice, “You gonna pay with a hundred too?” “What?” “I just asked, you gonna pay with a hundred too? Cause that hobo right there, in the red sweatshirt paid with one, and I’m sick an’ tired of doing that kind of hard math.” Warnes just stared at her.

Hobo

Hobo

Monsoon – rikki (9)

Monsoon flood

Monsoon flood

My day started as ordinarily as it could be. Here in the summer days of Calcutta nothing really changed. The heat was ferocious and the need for water pestered you, but the monsoon was supposed to be starting. Anyway, I woke up around 6:45 a.m. I went to the bathroom and at 7:03, I put my yellow slicker on and headed outside for my morning trip to the “Big Bazaar.”

I called an auto-rickshaw to my side and told the driver to take me there. When we arrived, he asked me for 20 rupees and grunted. I gently handed him his money and walked on. Racket filled my ears; “Mangoes! Mangoes! 10 rupees! Ripe mangoes! Mach! Mach! Fish! Fish! Elish Mach! Tangra Mach! Tilapia! 18 rupees per kilo!

I walked on my original route to the mango stall first, then the coconut and last the fish stall. I sipped sweet and refreshing mango juice and adjusted my sandals. BAM! Lightning slashed across the grey sky and rain poured down. More rain slithered out of the clouds and people became frightened, dropping bags of groceries all over the road. Splosh! I slipped and fell into the ankle high water. Cows were running across the roads and stray dogs sprinted along the curbs, which made the people even more frightened.  I was all muddy and wet after the fall. I had no time to lose – the water was getting knee high and had started to flood the entire market. It was a definite flash flood!

I waded through the muddy water and tried to get to higher ground.  A piece of plywood and baskets of vegetables floated past me.  At last I reached the bus stop and was able to get onto a bus.  The bus was loaded with angry and wet people. Men shouted and yelled about who should go where. After fifteen minutes we arrived at a school house.  We quickly hopped out of the bus and sprinted towards the doors. I rested against the wall and dried off with a towel given by a volunteer.  We ate rice and curry.  After a few hours the rain stopped and I arrived back at my flat… safely.

Wait? Where are my groceries and why is my fridge empty!?