Shoko | Teen Ink


May 25, 2016
By EdoOkami, Sturgis, South Dakota
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EdoOkami, Sturgis, South Dakota
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Favorite Quote:
"It's not the size of the dog in the fight that matters, it's the size of the fight in the dog."

      Shoko stood motionlessly in her dead, dark room, staring directly into the eyes of the lifeless monster that loomed before her. Her windows were blacked out and the scent of smoke filled the air, burnt paper dolls littering the floor. Ever so gently, Shoko reached forward in an attempt to make contact with the creature. The monster remained in its eerie stasis, completely black, its arms thicker than Shoko’s entire body. The moment Shoko made contact the monster vanished, evaporating into a shadowy mist.
      “Shoko…” whispered a soft voice.
      Shoko whipped around to find a little boy, his eyes fixated on hers. She froze with fear. He knew her, but she didn't know him.
      “Shoko…” the boy whispered once more.
      Beads of sweat began rolling down her forehead.
      “Shoko!” her mother said as she threw open the door and flip on the light switch.
Shoko jumped and quickly turned to face her mother, then turned back to the boy. He, too, had vanished.
“Shoko I’ve called your name three times now!” said her mother with a frustrated yet concerned look, “It’s time to take your medicine, come on. And stop burning things in here!”
Shoko fallowed her mother to the kitchen. She put two small white pills into a glass of water and handed the glass to Shoko. Shoko gulped down the pills. Her father sat at the table and sipped a glass of wine while filling out paperwork. Rays of light shown through the blinds over the windows, lighting up the kitchen. Shoko glanced at the clock, 5:00 PM; she had spent the entire day shrouded in the darkness of her room she hadn't realized it was already afternoon. Her father glanced up.
      “Shoko you’re still alive!” he said, sarcasm in his voice, “I haven't seen you in almost two days, you spend so much time in your room.”
      “She’s burning things again,” her mother said as she leaned against the fridge. “I don't think these pills are working.”
      “It’s just a superstition of hers,” assured her father, “Doctor said it’ll wear off after awhile. Still, you should go out and make some friends Shoko, I think you’ll find your imaginary ones won't do you any good.”
      Shoko just looked at the floor.
      Just then, there was the sound of shattering glass from the living room.
“What was that?” asked Shoko’s mother as she grabbed Shoko and held her tight.
“I’ll go check it out, you two stay here,” said her father, “I love you, both of you”
He grabbed a gun from a cabinet before he left the room.
      “You jackass,” said a strange voice, “I told you to pick the lock”
“Chill, I got it,” said another voice.
Shoko’s mother rushed her into the pantry closet.
“Shoko, stay in here, no matter what happens, no matter what you hear, stay put, understand?”
Shoko quickly nodded her head.
“I love you,” said her mother as she hugged her and closed the door.
      “Hey who the hell are you!” yelled her father.
There was a short exchange of gunfire. Shoko slightly opened the closet door and peered out. She saw her father slowly backing away from the window, dripping small puddles of blood onto the carpet. Every vein in his body protruding from his skin, his eyes, blood shot, looked like they were about pop out of his head. He raised the pistol, trying to get one last shot in, only to receive another bullet straight through his skull. Shoko stared in horror as her father’s lifeless body hit the ground.
      Her mother, covering her mouth to silence her gasp, stepped back toward the counter. Violently shaking, her hand managed to grasp a knife. She rushed at the first intruder. The second man saw her from the corner of his eye and raised his gun. The woman was torn to shreds the gunman’s Uzi, painting the kitchen wall crimson.
      “You reckless moron!” barked the first man, “now we’ve gotta get rid of some bodies!”
      “Be grateful,” snarled the second man, “if it weren’t for me you’d be dealing with a knife in yer neck.”
      Shoko, trembling, had streams of tears running down her face. She looked upon her father, strewn out across the floor. Then to her mother, slumped over in a sea of her own blood, almost unrecognizable. Shoko focused her eyes to her mother’s arm resting on the kitchen floor, still barely grasping the knife. Suddenly Shoko wasn’t shedding tears of sadness, but of rage. In and instant, without even thinking, Shoko flung open the door and raced towards the knife. She picked it up and clenched it with all her might, and charged at one of the men.
      Neither of the intruders had time to react before Shoko plunged the knife deep into the second man’s back. He let out a cry, and dropped his Uzi. Shoko ripped the knife out of the man’s back as he fell to the ground. Only to find herself staring down another barrel. Without hesitation, the man shot the girl in her lower, right abdomen.
      “Lin!” cried the man, “dammit you fool! Why didn’t you ever listen to me you hot headed moron?”
      The man knelt beside his fallen partner. Shoko lay on the floor, still barely conscious but bleeding fast. Her eyes only opened halfway and her vision was blurred. She strained her eyes to glance at the intruders, and then found her father only a meter away. The gun was still clenched in his stiff hand. As the intruder remained by his dead partner, a voice cried in Shoko’s head.
      The gun... get the gun... Get up and get the gun now!
      Shoko gathered up every last scrap of strength she had and began to slowly crawl toward her father. She kept going, even with every vessel in her body was screaming out in excruciating pain.
      After what seemed like hours, Shoko reached her father’s corpse and pried the gun from his cold fingers. The pistol felt like a thousand pounds in Shoko’s hands. Then came the sound of distant sirens. The intruder stood straight up and turned around to find the girl pointing a gun directly at his head.
      The man slowly raised his hands.
      “Hey, easy there kid. You don’t really wanna shoot me, do ya?”
      The sirens grew louder.
Come on! Pull the trigger! Kill that monster now! He killed your mother, your father, and he tried to kill you. Do it!
      Shoko lay in her father’s blood, debating whether to kill the intruder or not.
      “I didn’t want to break into this place, he did” said the man pointing at his dead partner, “and you did him in. I’d say we’re even.”
      Shoko remained silent.
      “What do you think they’ll do when the cops come in and see four dead people and a kid holding a gun? Huh? They’ll send you to a juvenile prison, or maybe a mental asylum.”
      Don’t listen to him! He’s trying to trick you, kill him!
      “Don’t shoot, come with me! I can get that wound taken care of and you won’t have to live behind bars for the rest you life!”
      Closer the sirens came. Shoko squeezed the gun. There was a small click. No bullets.  Shoko dropped the gun and let her face fall to the ground.
      “Tch. You little...” the intruder was interrupted by the screeching of tires as the police cars stopped in front of the house.
“Screw it,” he said as he picked up the gun, grabbed Shoko, and slung her over his shoulder before rushing out the back door. Shoko’s vision grew blurry and grey as she moved further and further away from her home, until she slipped into unconsciousness.

Shoko opened her eyes. She didn't know where she was, everything was black. She looked around, nothing but emptiness. Shoko began walking, then running, but nothing changed. It was as if she was trapped in a black hole. Shoko called out, her voice echoed, but no answer. She began running as hard as she could, panting, sweeting and crying.
      “Shoko,” she heard a voice whisper. Immediately, Shoko stopped and turned to face the voice. She froze and her eyes opened as wide as they could. It was the boy she saw in her room, only this time he had white glow. He spoke her name once again.
      “Shoko…Shoko…why? Why did you do this to me?” he said calmly
      “Why did you do this to me!” he began shouting, “WHY DID YOU DO THIS TO ME!”
      The boy’s clothes became torn and bloody. His skin became ripped and his face blood soaked, half barely hanging onto his skull. He began shouting her name at the top of his voice, and reaching out to her. Shoko stepped back, the boy moved closer. She stepped back again but tripped and fell back, the boy came closer still shouting her name. Shoko closed her eyes and let out a scream.
Shoko awoke to the sound of a moving train. She looked about her surroundings, a small metal room with a large open door to her right. A man was sitting at the edge of the door. He was wearing a black trench coat with a matching beanie from under which his greasy, blonde hair crawled out. Shoko imminently recognized him as one of the men who broke into her house. She let out a small gasp. The man glanced back.
      “Oh, you’re up,” he said as he made his way toward her.
      Shoko made an attempt to back away from him, but was completely immobilized by a piercing pain in her abdomen.
      “Hey easy now!” exclaimed the man, “don’t move to much or you’ll open up that hole in your stomach.”
      Shoko lifted up her shirt to find bandages wrapped around her stomach.
      “Relax, I’m not going to hurt you.”
      Shoko didn’t trust him, but knew there was nothing she could do.  An attempt to escape would be futile, so she let herself ease back onto the cold floor of the train car.
      “Why?” Shoko began, “Why did you take me?”
      “Well I couldn’t have left you there,” replied the man, “They would’ve patched ya up, then questioned you. And you saw everything, most importantly my face.”
      “Then why didn’t you just kill me?”
      “What you don’t think I tried?” he chuckled as he pointed to her wound, “Sorry, that’s not funny. I don’t know, it just didn’t feel right.”
      “Even though I tried to kill you?”
      “Yeah, well, I just don’t think I could live with myself if I did,“ replied the man. “For what it’s worth, and that’s probably not much, but I’m sorry. You should get some rest now, I’m actually surprised you’re still alive, but glad.”
      The man got up and walked back to the open door.
      “My name’s Nik by the way,” he called back, “just so you know.”
Nik leaned on the wall as he watched the world fly past him. Shoko looked out the door. The morning sun lit the countryside a golden blaze. The sky was a bright, desolate, blue, and the sound of rattling train cars filled the silence. She suddenly remembered her parents. How it started off such a beautiful day, and in an instant her entire world crumbled. How her parents who, were gone just like that.
      Shoko wiped the tears from her eyes and tried to sleep, she couldn’t. Instead, she cautiously began to sit up, immediately it felt as though a thousand knives were driven into her stomach. But Shoko forced herself to get up, and once the pain stopped she continued her way up. Pushing through the hellish flames that coursed through her body, she managed to get on all fours and attempted to stand. Nik looked back.
      “What the hell are you doing!” he yelled as he rushed over to her. “Lay back down!”
      “No!” grunted Shoko.
      “You need to rest dammit!”
      “Shut, up. I can do it!”
      Shoko stopped shaking and gradually rose to her feet. Nik watched, as Shoko stood straight up. The girl trembled and the man caught her and lifted her back up. He continued to guide her to the doorway, Shoko stumbling again and again, Nik raising her back to her feet each time. Once at the doorway, and Nik carefully set Shoko down and met beside her.
      “It’s amazing you’re able to move so much,” Nik said, “Then again, the bullet only tore threw your side. Missed any organs and arteries, you’re lucky.”
      Shoko clung to the inside of the train and leaned outside, letting her long, black hair take flight with the wind. She looked at the sky again; the sun was there but only just.
      “What time is it?” asked Shoko.
      “I’d say about six, you were only asleep for one night,” replied Nik, “you passed out after, you know.”
      Shoko looked
      “So,” began Nik, “what’s your name?”
      “Shoko, Shoko Yamazaki”
      “Shoko, huh?”
      “Where are we going?” asked Shoko.
      “As far as this train will take us, so probably the next town over,” Nik replied with a small grin.
      “Which is?”
      “Well, I don't know, I don't even know what town we were just in. Lin was the leader, so I just fallowed him. Never asked questions, just went with it.”
      “I’m sorry I-”
      “Nah don’t worry about it,” Nik interrupted, “guy was a dick, if you didn't put ‘em down I would’ve done it eventually.”
      Nik leaned back a little and lit a cigarette.
      “Beside,” he began, “you had the right. He was the one who gunned down your parents. Real shame, your mom was quite the looker. What was her name, if you don't mind me asking?”
      “Naomi,” replied Shoko
      Nik took a few puffs of his cig.
      “Hey,” he said as he pulled out a pistol, “I took this thing from your house. Was the one you tried using on me. I figured you better hold onto it, and sometime I’ll teach you how to use it.”
      He handed the gun to Shoko. Shoko slowly took it from his hand, and just stared at it.
      “There’s no bullets in it, so don't try anything.”
      The two said nothing for a while. Nik finished off his cig and flicked it off into the wind.
      “I never asked,” Nik finally spoke up, ”how old are you?”
      “Ten,” Shoko replied quickly without looking up.
      “Only ten huh? I’m sorry I put you through all this, but it looks like we’re in this together now.”
      “What makes you think that?” snapped Shoko, “I haven't done any thing wrong.”
      “And you think I’ll just let you go?”
      Shoko glared at Nik, realizing the situation she was in made her furious. The train began to slow down.
      “Well it looks like this our stop,” said Nik “Quickly, let’s go.”
      Nik jumped off the train before realizing Shoko could hardly stand, let alone jump. He cursed and ran after the train car. Shoko carefully rose to her feet, and giggled as she watched Nik race after her. The train gradually slowed to walking speed.
      “Okay, jump now,” said Nik, “I’ll catch you.”
      Shoko hoped off the train car right into Nik’s arms. Nik gently let Shoko down.
      “You okay?” asked Nik
      Shoko nodded her head.
      “Can you run?”
      “I think so,” replied Shoko
      “Okay, let’s go!” said Nik as he grabbed Shoko’s hand and led her up a small hill.
      As the two reached the top of the hill, the rising sun lit up an enormous city and a massive cloud of smog sitting over it.
      “L.A.,” Nik whispered under his breathe, “Come on Shoko!”

“Where are we even going?” whined Shoko as the two trotted down into the city.
      “I told you I don’t know!” replied Nik, “We just have to keep moving, stay ahead of the police. And then, once the heats died down, well, I don't know. But we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”
      Nik and Shoko made their way down the seemingly endless hills and to a vacant street. Nik fallowed the sidewalk further into town and Shoko fallowed Nik close behind. Occasionally a car would pass them by, and Nik would tell Shoko to just look down. Eventually, they came across a small grocery store.
      “You hungry?” asked Nik
      Shoko realized it had been awhile since she last ate, and nodded her head.
      “Alright, come-, actually, you better wait here,” said Nik.
      Shoko looked down at her clothes, same shirt, blood stained with a hole in the center.
      “I’ll be right back, okay?” said Nik
      Shoko nodded her head, and Nik went inside. Shoko sat outside the store as she waited for Nik to return. She watched as cars flu by and as pedestrians walked by, then at the sky. To her amazement, the smog had cleared up. The sky was, once again, clear and blue. Nik came back out of the store and handed Shoko a sandwich. Shoko took it, and immediately tore into it.
      “Now let’s see if we can get you some new clothes, come on.”
      Shoko fallowed Nik further down the street.
      “There, that place looks like it might have something,” Nik said pointing to a small building with a sign that said “Discount Store”. “I’ll be right back, again.”
      Nik went into the store and returned shortly with a plain, grey T-shirt.
      “Here, this should do for now,” he said handing her the shirt. “Oh, you can go in that alley to change.”
      Nik pointed to the alleyway between the store and a laundromat. Nik turned around; Shoko went into the alley and quickly changed.
      Shoko walked back into the light, leaving behind the old shirt.
      “It fit?” asked Nik, Shoko nodded her head. “Good, let's go.”
      “Go where?” whined Shoko
      “I’m going to teach you how to shoot,” answered Nik as he started walking, “So think the L.A. River will work, since we probably can't use a gun range.”
      Nik led Shoko further south of the metropolis, not seeming to care much if anyone saw them. Under the blazing sun, Nik took off his trench coat and slung it over his shoulder. Revealing a dirty, plain white t-shirt and old, greyish jeans. After about half an hour, they finally reached the river. The two carefully stepped down the concrete edges. Nik, looked around to make sure nobody was around.
      “Okay, take this,” Nik said handing Shoko a clip to load into her gun.
      “Are you sure we won't get caught?” asked Shoko, taking the clip.
      “Well, we don't have much of choice,” replied Nik, “you need to be able to protect yourself. Besides, we’re close enough to Compton, if anyone hears anything I doubt the police will care. Now, load the gun, just like I told you.”
      Shoko slid the clip into the pistol until it made a small click.
      “Good, now is the safety off?” asked Nik
      “Yes,” replied Shoko
      “Okay, now just leave it off from now on,” said Nik, “It won’t go off if you don't pull the trigger. And you remember how to aim?”
      Shoko nodded.
      “Alright, shoot that bottle,” said Nik pointing to an empty beer bottle.
      Shoko took a deep breath, propped up the gun with both hands, lined up the sights, and aimed at the bottle.
      “Hurry!” said Nik, “If that bottle were a person it could’ve killed you three times over already!”
      Shoko fired once, missed. She fired twice more. Both shots missed the bottle and slammed into the concrete wall behind it. She fired off another shot. The bullet nicked the top of the bottle.
      “Well, for a little girl, that wasn’t too bad,” said Nik, “But you definitely need some improvement.”
      “This is stupid!” yelled Shoko, “A person is way bigger than a bottle!”
      “A person also won't stay still and wait for you to hit them,” replied Nik as he threw his trench coat back on, “You’re lucky you’ve got me.”
      Nik reached into his coat and pulled out a silver revolver. With one hand he aimed at the bottle. He pulled back the hammer with his thumb, and pulled the trigger. There was a loud pop, and the bottle exploded sending shards of glass into the air. Nik pulled the hammer back and fired again. Another bottle off to the right shattered. A rat ran across the ground, Nik fired and hit it dead center. What little remained of the rat was splattered across the concrete. Shoko glared up at Nik, Nik looked back down with a smirk.
      “We should get going now,” he said putting his revolver back into his coat, “I know a guy here who might be able to help us.”
      As they began walking out of the river, Shoko tried to hide her gun by putting it in her pocket. It wouldn’t fit.
      “Nik,” she said, “how am I supposed to hide this?”
      “Oh, just stuff the barrel down the back of your jeans,” Nik replied, “then cover up the handle with your shirt. But be careful not to shoot yourself if you need to pull it out.”
      Shoko did as instructed, and followed Nik back onto the streets. She looked up at the sky. The sun was almost directly overhead. Must be noon. She thought to herself. Nik took off his trench coat and threw it over his shoulder again. Shoko noticed that he had a tattoo on his right arm. A dragon crawling down, it’s head on the back of his hand.
      “Hey Nik,” Shoko began, “how did you get to be such a good shot?”
      “Well, it’s a long story,“ he replied, ”But I guess I can tell you along the way.”

“You see, awhile back,” Nik began, “About two maybe three years ago I used to be a gun for hire, mercenary was the term I preferred. Anyway, I used to do all kinds of jobs. They usually involved shooting. Whether I was protecting someone, stealing something, or just rubbing out a group of people who another group of people didn’t like, I always got my hands dirty. Even got mixed up with the cartel once. You’ve heard of them before haven't you?”
      “No,” replied Shoko
      “Oh, well they’re a big drug faction down in Mexico. Nasty bunch of bastards they are. Make a lot of money producing and dealing drugs, cocaine’s their favorite. And they ain’t afraid to spill some blood, or take some heads, just to prove a point. Anyway, a buddy of mine said he caught wind of a job with one hell of a paycheck. Didn't realize we’d be crossing the border until sirens were on our asses and bullets were flying past our heads. The idiot panicked and shot down both officers in the car. We were lucky it just the one patrol car. Me and him threw the bodies in the trunk. We took their car and ditched it when we got to the city, I think it was Tijuana. Then we walked the rest of the way to his contact’s place. A couple Mexicans gave  us a truck packet full of coke, and told us to deliver it to some guy in another city a ways west. We had to cross this big desert to make sure we didn't get caught. But it was too late, I was driving then I hear my buddy say ‘Nik we got trouble!’ I look in the mirror and I see a car not to far behind us. ‘S*** it’s the cops!’ I said. ‘No it ain’t the cops, worse it’s the f***ing cartels!’ he screamed. ‘Do something Nik!’ ‘Do what?’ I yelled back, ‘This damn things too damn heavy!’ I slam the peddle to the ground but the truck doesn’t go any faster. Then I start hearing gunshots, we both get our heads down but that’s not what they’re shooting at. Suddenly I hear a pop, they shot out one of our tires. I lost control of the damn thing, we spun out, and rolled over. Three Mexicans step out of the car and drag my buddy and me out of the truck. I could barely even stand so they left me by the truck, but they take him back by their car and some asshole slit his throat! Then the moron who was supposed to be keeping and eye on me looks away and watches as the other guy cuts my friends head off. So, I pulled out my revolver and blow his brains out. The other two notice, but the one with the AK is too slow to the draw and caught a 44 to the skull. And the last one only had the knife on him, so the coward backs up a little as I stand up. I start making my way towards him, even thought my legs hurt like hell, and he starts whimpering in Spanish or whatever. I put my gun to his head but instead of pulling the trigger, I aim down and shot ‘em in the stomach. Got in his car and left him for the coyotes, hopefully he was still alive when the mutts tore ‘em apart.”
      Nik took out another cigarette and lit it.
      “How did you get back to the US?” asked Shoko
      “Just drove north until I reached the border,” he replied, “Luckily I came across rip in the fence. After that, I didn't feel like going back to the merc life. Unfortunately, there weren't many choices for me, so I fell into a gang. I ran with them for a while, drug dealing, hustling, and occasional hold ups. Met this one guy who was pretty good with computers, hacking and stuff, a real nerd. That’s who we’re going to go see now. We did pretty well for ourselves, until we decided to hold up a small bank on the outskirts of town. The operation went well, and the take was pretty good. But on the way out, the gang leader, a guy named Raul, stabbed me in the back. Me and him ran out the back door, ‘Okay, where’d you park the getaway car?’ I asked him. I turned around ‘Raul?’ Then the bastard shot me. ‘Sorry Nicky! This score is just to big to share!’ He said, then he took off and left me for dead. I didn't feel like waiting to either get caught or bleed out, so I forced myself to get up and keep moving. Found a parked car, stole it and drove it back to our hideout. We had this real pretty member named Michiko, she was damn good at patching us up when we got shot or stabbed. Luckly the bullet passed right through me and she was able to stitch me up no problem.”
“This is it,” Nik said as made his way up the steps to an unkempt house. “Looks like they really let the place go to s***.”
A decaying, metal fence barely guarded a lawn full off tall grass and weeds. The majority of the white paint on the house had pealed off, and all most all the murky windows were cracked. A dirty, black sedan sat in the driveway. They were in a ghetto, Shoko was so focused on Nik’s story she hadn’t noticed they had gone a city of glass skyscrapers to a slum. Off to the distance a dog was barking, and a car, its frame hardly off the ground, strolled down the street blaring rap music. Shoko turned to face it and the driver, a man with a pencil thin mustache and wearing a yellow bandana around his head, glared at her.
“After that bank incinident the gang broke up, atleast that’s what I heard,” said Nik, “I’m not even sure any them are still alive.”
Nik pounded on the rotting, oak door. As Nik put his coat back on, the door opened only enough for a single eye to peer out. There was a small gasp fallowed by the door slaming shut. A small click was heard and the door flu open.

“Nik!” yelled a young asian woman as she threw her arms around him. Shoko looked up at the woman. She looked just like her only older, she had long, raven black hair, and soft, pale skin.
“Michiko, hey,” Nik said, “It’s been awhile.” Michiko let go of Nik and looked down at Shoko.
“And who is this?” she said sliding her hands down to her knees until she was at Shoko’s height, “Is she your daughter, Nik?” Shoko looked at the ground.
“No,” said Nik, “It’s kind of a long story, but it’s why we’re here. I need to speak to Isaac, is he still around?”
“Is he ever,” Michiko’s joyful expression turned into a stressed one, “Still in the same room, on the same chair, and using the same computer he’s been using for all these years. I get that his skills help put bread on the table, but it’s seriously all he does. I don’t even think he ever sleeps. He really needs to get out more, tan that bleached skin of his. Anyway, come on in.”
Nik and Shoko followed Michiko inside. Every curtian and blind in house was closed, letting in a soft light which illuminated the dust drifting throught the air. An old TV sat on a coffee table infront of a ratty couch. As they walked into the living room, the floor beneath the stained carpet whined with each step. The television broadcasted news about the war between the US and the Middle east, which had recently turned extremly violent.
“Isaac!” Michiko called down the hallway to her right, “We’ve got visitors! And you’ll never guess who it is!”
A door creaked open down the pitch black hallway, fallowed by light footsteps. Nik and Shoko turned to see a guant, young man with poor posture step out of the shadows.
“Well, well, look who’s come crawling back,” he said, “Afriad you’re a little too late. In case you didn’t notice, the gang broke up. ”
Shoko noticed Isaac had the same tattoo Nik had, Michiko too.
“After you and Raul left, everything went to s***.” Isaac continued, then looked at Shoko, “Who the hell is this?”
“Yeah good to see you too, Isaac” said Nik, “As anti-social as ever, huh?”
“Yeah, yeah, whatever,” Isaac said as he made his to the couch, “Now answer the question, I thought you understood we don’t bring kids into this, even if the gang is dead.”
“I know, Isaac,” replied Nik, “But I-, we need your help.”
“With what?” asked Isaac.
“That,” Nik said pionting to the TV.
“And a recap on the tradjety that happened yesterday in San Jose. Two men and one woman found dead in a suburban house. The residents, Kaito and Niome Yamazaki, were both found shot dead in their home. The second man is believed to have broken in and killed the two, but was found with a knife in his chest. The child of the residents, Shoko Yamazaki, is missing.”
A picture of Shoko flashed on the screen.
“Witnesses say they saw a man fleeing the scene with what apeared to be a child over his shoulder. The man was desribed to have blonde hair and wearing a large black trench coat. The man is considered to armed and extrely dangerous, citizens are advised to not engage. If you this man please call the police immiedently.”
Shoko stood, still staring at the ground and fighting back tears. Michiko walked over and put her hands on Shoko’s shoulders, and glared at Nik. Nik crossed his arms and looked out the window. Isaac hesitated, then stood up. Head down, Isaac made his way to Nik and threw a punch that hit him in his nose and knocked him to the ground. As Nik picked himself up, Isaac grabbed him by the collar of his coat.
“I never took you as a f***ing saint,” Isaac began, “but now I see that you’re a god damn monster!”
“Dammit Isaac!” Nik spat, blood running out his nose, “It was Lin’s idea!”
“Oh I see, Lin made the plan and brought the sicko to do the dirty work!” Isaac yelled back.
“I didn’t kill anyone.” Nik said as he got up and threw Isaac off him, “Lin shot down both of ‘em, then Shoko killed him.”
Michiko’s eyes wipened and she looked down at Shoko. Isaac let out a long exhale, and Nik wiped the blood from his nose as a moment of silence passed.
“Okay,” Isaac finally spoke, “what exactly do you need help with?”
“S*** I don’t know, I was hoping you would figure that out.” said Nik.
“F***,” Isaac said as he started to pace around the room, “Just give me a little time and I’ll think of something. Damn it...”
“Well while you do that, Michiko could you take a look at Shoko’s wound.” Nik said, “I tried pathing it up as best I could.”
“What the hell happened to her?” Isaac yelled
“I shot her,” Nik fired back
“Jesus christ,” said Isaac, “Okay, Michiko take care of Shoko. Me and this MORON will try to figure something out.”

Michiko gave Isaac a nod and led Shoko to the basement. Once they reached the bottom of the stairs, Michiko flipped on a light switch. The basement lit up with several flourecent lights, revealing white room filled with surgical equipment. Cabinets filled with medication were stacked along the walls, moniters and large machines stood near a single bed in the center of the room. Shoko started shaking.
“Don’t be afriad,” said Michiko, “If that idiot could keep you alive, than I’m sure it’s nothing serious.
Michiko laid Shoko down on the bed and turned on a bright light directly above Shoko. She removed Shoko’s shirt to reveal the blood socked bandages around Shoko’s stomache.
“Jesus,” she said, “Didn’t he ever change them?”
Shoko shook her head.
“That idiot, okay well this might burn a little,” Michiko said as she cut the bandages and pulled them off. Shoko sucked in the air through her teeth.
“Alright, well it doesn’t look infected,” said Michiko, “But we should still clean it just to be safe. So this is gonna hurt, a lot.”
Shoko looked worried. Michiko took a cloth and dabbed it with alchohol. Shoko closed her eyes and braced herself. As Michiko gently traced the wound with the cloth Shoko let out a grunt.
“Almost finished,” Michiko said as she turned Shoko on her side and cleaned the exit wound. Once she was finished, Michiko wrapped Shoko’s abdomin with new bandages.
“There you go,” she said, “And Shoko, I’m really sorry to hear about what happened. If I could help you anymore, I would. But sticking with Nik is probably your best chance of surviving. He may not seem like it, but Nik really knows how to handle himself. Are you going to be okay? I think I’ve got some antidepresants somewhere around here.”
“No I’m fine” Shoko blurted
“Are you sure” Michiko asked, worried
“I’m fine dammit!” Shoko spat as she pounded a fist on the bed. Michiko took a step back, shocked.
“I’m sorry,” Shoko said, hoping off the bed, “Thanks for treating me.”
Shoko and Michiko made thier way back up the stairs. Isaac and Nik sat next to eachother on the couch, both holding a beer. Nik turned his head to face them.
“All good?” Nik called
“Yeah, now make sure you change her bandages at lest every two days,” Michiko tossed Nik a roll of bandages.”
“Cool,” Nik replied as he caught the roll, “So we were talking and Isaac said-”
Nik was interrupted by the screaching of tires.
“The hell was that,” Nik said
Isaac got up and peered out the window, then turned back with a terrified expression.
“It’s him,” gulped Isaac
“It’s who? Isaac whats happening?” Nik demanded
“Alright I know he’s in there!” A vioce from outside roared, “Come on out and let’s talk like gentelmen.”
“No f***ing way, Raul?” Nik grunted
“I guess we better see what he wants,” Isaac croaked
Isaac walked to the door and hesitiantly opened it. A single shot was fired and Isaac was knocked to the ground.
“Isaac!” Nik cried and darted over to him. Several more rounds hit the door and windows as Nik pulled Isaac behind the wall. Michiko rushed Shoko behind the couch and began accesing Isaac’s condition.
“So you are still alive!” Raul called, “You’re one tough bastard, Nicky. But I’ll make sure to put you down this time. Come on out, I’ll make it quick.”
Nik pulled out his gun and stood against the wall next to the doorway. Isaac gasped for breath and Michiko did her best to staunch the bleeding.
“Ya know you always were a gutless piece of s***, Raul,” Nik yelled back, “What the hell is this? One man against your whole crew?”
“Oh this ain’t it, it’s just enough to make sure you don’t slip away this time,” Raul replied
“Nik,” Isaac wheezed, “Nik take Michi and Shoko, and get out of here. Take my car.”
Isaac tossed Nik the keys and pulled out a pistol.
“I’ll take as many of these bastards as I can, and you guys get out of here as quick as possible.”
“Isaac, no,” Michiko wept
“Don’t try to stop me,” grunted Isaac, “The bullet’s going to kill me anyway, just go.”

Nik gave Isaac a nod, and grabbed Michiko and Shoko and led them to the door on the side of the house. Isaac gathered all the strength he had left, stood up, and hobbled to the doorway. The three of them snuk over to the car, Nik quietly unlocked it and they crawled in. Isaac took a deep breathe, and burst out the house letting loose a barrage of bullets among the men in the street. As the shots rang out, Nik fired up the car and slammed on the pedal. Bullets soon tore through the back window of the sedan.
“Heads down!” Nik yelled as they sped down the street
Michiko and Shoko did as instructed and ducked down, as bullets flu through the car. Nik raced down the street. He looked through the review mirror as two cars ecplised the sunset. Bullets continued to fly past the car, Nik took a sharp left turn and headed deeper into downtown LA. The chase continued through allyways and vacant streets. Once niehter of the cars were in sight, Nik drove down to an old train station below the highway.
“Okay, I think we lost them,” Nik said, “Everyone okay?”
Nik looked back, Shoko nodded her head.
“Michiko?” Nik looked to his side
There was no response. Michiko was slumped over in her seat, bleeding from her right shoulder.
“S***!” Nik yelled as he got out and pulled Michiko out of the car, “Shoko, go open that car!” Nik said pionting to a trian car. Shoko Immediently ran over and opened the car. Nik carried Michiko over and gently set her down in the car, then wrapped bandages around her wound. “Dammit,” Nik whispered letting a single tear trickle down his face, “I’m sorry, this is all my fault. This shouldn’t have happened to either of you.” Nik tenderly kissed Michiko’s soft lips, slammed the door shut, and walked back to the car.
“We’re just going to leave her here?” Shoko whinned
“We can’t take her with us,” Nik replied, “I’m sure Raul’s men are hot on our trial, we need to move. But first we need to torch this car.”
“What sense does that make?” Shoko burst out
“The cars already shot to s***, it’s not going to get us far,” Nik said, “And maybe, just maybe, Raul will think we crashed and died. Now get behind that train car.”
Shoko did as told. Nik pulled out a knife and shoved it into the car’s gas tank. Gas began spilling out. Nik stepped back, shot the gas puddle, and ran to join Shoko behind the train car. The sedan burst into flames.
“Come on,” Nik grabbed Shoko and the two ran along the rails.

“Nik what are we going to do now?” Shoko asked
“Dammit you ask too many questions,” Nik replied, “But we’re going to go pay a visit to a guy named Vinny. He used to be a member too, Isaac said he runs a strip club now. I’m going to talk to him, find out where Raul’s hiding, and blow his god damn head off.”
“If you want to find him so badly, just wait for him to come to you,” said Shoko
“How stupid are you,” Nik snarled, “If we wait for him he’s gonna bring all his people. No, I’m going to find out where he lives and get the drop on him.”
The two kept walking until they came across a large building with bright, neon signs lighting up the night sky.
“I think this is the place,” Nik said, “Now you shut up, and do everything I say, got it?”
Shoko nodded and fallowed Nik to the entrance. A large, musclular man stood next to the door.
“No kids,” he said, holding up his hand.
In a flash, Nik thrust his knife into the man’s stomache. Shoko watched the man fall and stopped dead in her tracks. Nik glared back at her. Shoko looked up at Nik, and immedieantly caught back up to him. Nik pushed open the door and music flowed out. Shoko followed him in. Once inside, lights flashed, speakers shook the floor, and woman dressed in skimpy outfits danced on large poles. Cheap perfume and sweat stung her nose.
“Keep close,” Nik said
As a srtipper walked by, Nik approched her.
“Hey beautiful, you wouldn’t happen to know where the owner is would you?” he ask
“Yeah,” she pionted to a door next to the bar, “Through that door, first room to your left.”
“Thanks,” Nik replied, “Come on, Shoko.”

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