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by Frank Duff

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559 Nathan Abbott Way


Johnny woke up with blood in his mouth and ringing in his ears. It was the weird kind of ringing that doesn't sound so much like a bell that was struck too hard and won't stop reverberating but rather like two people having a pitched argument inside your head in a language you don't understand. In this case, that was exactly what was happening, except for the inside Johnny's head part. Both voices were male and he recognized neither of them. Johnny felt in his gut that that wasn't a good sign. Where was Tinka?

"What the fuck did he just say?"

There she was.

"He says he doesn't believe you." It was one of the two male voices, the younger sounding one. Johnny hadn't been able to get a read on its character before but now it sounded as smooth and cold as a knife. The kind of knife a butcher would use for cutting a cow's throat.

"I don't give a shit whether or not he believes me!" Tinka yelled, her voice more than filling the tiny room. "I told you already I have no idea who he is or how he got here. Just get him the fu--"

She was cut off by the sound of an open palm hitting her cheek with serious force. Johnny opened his eyes and shot up into a sitting position. Some less sensible part of him was insisting that he leap up and defend her against the two men. Most of him, of course, was happy for Tinka to get whatever she had coming to her. His head still hurt like hell. He opened his eyes and was on the verge of jumping up despite his better judgment when he caught sight of the younger man.

The man of the smooth and cold voice was also the man of the piercing grey eyes from the picture on Tinka's wall. He wasn't wearing the same suit as he was in the picture, but he was wearing one very much like it and it fit him tautly. If his voice had the character of a knife his physical demeanour was that of a loaded gun being held by a psychopath prone to spasms of the index finger. Johnny had imagined many horrible scenes involving meeting this man, but none of them were this bad.

The man uttered a few sharp, terse words at Tinka in Korean. She squinted her eyes at him, shook her head, said "Fuck you, Jin" and spat in his face.

With the sort of preternatural calm unique to executioners, Jin wiped the spittle off of his face and raised his hand to slap Tinka a second time. Again Johnny almost sprang up from the bed, but Tinka pre-empted him by hitting Jin in the throat with a punch that seemed to come out of nowhere. His eyes wide, Jin collapsed to the ground choking as Tinka turned and stalked out of the room. Seizing the moment of opportunity, Johnny jumped up to follow her. Before he could reach the door the older Korean man grabbed him by the collar. Johnny spun to push him away but barely had time to notice the man's fatherly resemblance to Jin before he was caught across the chin by a ring-studded fist. He lost consciousness about halfway back to the futon.


When he awoke again, he didn't know where he was. He certainly wasn't in Tinka's room. Wherever he was it was cold. And loud.

He propped himself up on one arm to get his bearings. He was surrounded by crates and there was a huge steel panel set into the floor next to him that looked for the world like it would open up if someone pulled the right lever in some adjacent chamber. He was in the cargo hold of a plane. And he wasn't alone.

The middle aged Korean man who had been sitting against a nearby crate reading a newspaper had noticed Johnny's cognizance. He stood up and walked in Johnny's direction. Reflexively Johnny covered his face with his arms in anticipation of the knockout punch, but it never came. Instead, he felt a needle prick in his right thigh.

Johnny opened his mouth to say "What the fuck" but he didn't even get past "Wh--" before collapsing once again into unconsciousness.

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