Monthly Archives: September 2011
Here is Part I of the Tanaka and the Yakuza’s Daughter short story:
The bullet tore flesh from his left shoulder. Akira Tanaka yelped in pain but quickly regained his focus. He had been shot before and knew he would be shot again if he didn’t keep quiet. He took a moment to control his breathing and glance at the bloody wound. It was a lucky shot; he had been out of their line of sight.
It could have been worse. And it would get a lot worse if he didn’t get out of there soon. He guessed two, maybe three armed men were hunting him. With the echoes, it was hard to tell.
He was pinned down in a large warehouse and his only protection was rows and rows of metal racks filled with boxes of paper, office supplies, and who knows what else. To his left and right lay openings that appeared to be makeshift hallways between the racks. These were surely being watched by the enemy.
From looking at the floor plan earlier, he remembered that a doorway should be just around the corner to his right. Reminded of the Greeks at the Battle of Salamis, he wondered if he could draw them into that narrow passage. That might give him a chance against their larger number.
His fingers, slippery with his own blood, attempted to pry off the shoulder bag containing his essentials. He succeeded, but only after scraping the bullet wound. Biting his lip to keep from making a sound that would reveal his location, he focused entirely on the task at hand. He needed what was in that bag.
It had been a long day and it was only getting longer. Somehow, they had found out who he was and what he had done in the past. His thirteen-year-old daughter had been snatched. Emotions had never played a part in Tanaka’s work before. There was, however, a first time for everything.
But it had been a long time. He had been retired officially for twenty years and unofficially for at least five. He’d had only an hour to prepare for what could be the toughest and most heart-wrenching job he would ever face: rescuing his daughter.
From his bag, he grabbed what looked like a child’s rubber ball. Carefully fingering three nearly invisible holes, a red LED flashed twice. Tanaka drew in a breath to steady his nerves, tossed the device to his left, and rolled to his right on the count of three.
The ball clanged against the wall. In an average size room with normal acoustics, the sound would not be impressive, but in this cavernous environment, the sound thundered, surprising even Tanaka.
The diversion worked. Echoes of gunfire filled the room as bullets ripped into a stack of boxes on shelves against the wall on the opposite side. He heard a man yell, “Stop!” Liquid was dripping somewhere.
Tanaka was in a much safer position now. He could indeed see the door that led to the hallway. It probably held a janitor’s closet and a few storage rooms. He had thought those rooms might provide a refuge and a chance to lure the enemy into a position that would give him the advantage. However, noticing that the ruse was continuing to work, Tanaka decided to stay put for now. He pulled out a second ball and caused the LED to flash twice. His left hand held the ball while he checked his watch to make sure it was ready.
His grazed shoulder was bleeding more profusely now, but he was oblivious to anything non-essential, anything unrelated to the task of saving his daughter. He concentrated his entire vision on that ball in the corner and on an approaching shadow.
The enemy was quiet and careful, but the light behind him cast his silhouette broadly. In a room so large with very little padding to dampen the noise, his footsteps might as well have been foghorns.
Tanaka managed to lower his heart rate and breathe silent breaths. His right hand gripped the second ball and lightly touched the skin next to his watch.
The shadow grew larger across the room. The enemy surely could not see the cause of the noise, but there was at least one person approaching the ball in the far corner with deadly intent.
In a singular motion, Tanaka loosed his pent up energy, tossing the second ball high overhead toward the back where the enemy had been. One Mississippi later, he pressed a button on his watch and heard two explosions, again amplified by the room.
The first ball exploded in front of the shadow, causing it to stagger. The second ball he could not see, but he most definitely heard. Tanaka rushed toward the smoke from that first ball, grabbing his gun and holding it at eye level.
Swinging into the first opening, he took two shots at a dark figure two dozen or so feet down. Continuing on, he turned into the second opening–where the closest enemy stood dazed–and fired point-blank.
The noises coming from multiple locations had done the job. He had seen the first enemy get hit and this one was most definitely dead. The enemy was confused and scrambling.
Wasting no time, he headed toward the safe place again, keeping his gun ready as he sprinted back across the room. He saw no one else.
After hitting the wall next to the door that led to the janitor’s closet, he heard three distinct voices from across the warehouse. The guy he shot first must be down. The three voices sounded panicked, but determined nevertheless.
He realized at that moment that there had been at least five assailants and probably more coming. “Great,” he thought to himself.
He had never gone into an operation so ill-prepared, but in this case time had not been his friend. He had a good idea where they were keeping his daughter, but they could move her without warning. He scrapped the idea of luring them into that hallway. It would take too much time and he would lose sight of the room where he believed she was being held.
He knew he had walked into a trap. He was operating on their terms and virtually everything that happened was out of his hands. There was a possibility that Emily, his daughter, wasn’t even in the building. He had been dealt a bad hand, but folding was not an option.
The warehouse held a cluster of offices in the back corner with thin, temporary walls. Earlier, Tanaka had probed around the corner with a dental mirror and noticed the men all had been congregated around one of the doors. Emily must be held there.
There were only two outside doors: one in the front where he had entered and one in the rear east side, toward his goal. He knew he had to watch that exit in case they tried to move her.
It had been a mere hour since he first listened to that voicemail–how it seemed to him a lifetime! It was a woman’s voice. She spoke gingerly, but to Tanaka’s ears, the words were sharp and biting.
“My dear Tanaka, we have your daughter, but we want you. Would you be so kind as to join us at 144 Elstow Road? Come alone. We will know if you don’t.”
There was a short pause in the recording.
“Darling, would you mind saying hello to your father?”
Tanaka had gripped the phone tightly as he heard the muffled voice of his only child.
“Daddy! They grabbed…”
That was the end of the message.
Tanaka then frantically threw the items he would need into his bag and called his CIA handler, the Professor–a nickname Tanaka had long ago given to this old friend. Naturally, the Professor wanted to send in a team, but Tanaka immediately rejected the idea.
While on the phone, he sent the Professor the voicemail sound file through an SSH encrypted connection. The Professor assured Tanaka that the best computer and voice analysts would be on it. Who were these kidnappers and what did they want? Tanaka would want to know should he come back alive. It was a short conversation but one that ended with a heartfelt “Goodbye.”
His identity and the fact that he even had a daughter were supposed to be no man’s knowledge outside the three people he trusted and loved more than life itself. He had taken considerable precautions to erase every trace of his old life even before the Professor came into the picture twenty years prior.
His initial anger from hearing the voicemail message had sustained him and driven his actions until now. But deeper emotions were vying for position. His only child, his baby girl was facing an uncertain, but terrifying situation. He and his daughter had been fighting a lot since her mother died five years earlier. Now, however, nothing was more important than getting her back safe.
A clanging, rolling sound rudely brought his attention back to the present reality. He wasn’t sure what caused the sound but it couldn’t be good. Tanaka roped his bag over his wounded shoulder and got ready to move as a grenade rolled into his field of view. Instinctively, he flexed his massive and muscular legs. Leaping as high as he could, he managed to grasp the top shelf and climb over the rack to avoid the blast.
No sooner had he accomplished that than a powerful shock wave slammed into the rack underneath him. He had never seen a grenade pack such a punch. The rack teetered for a moment, then fell over and began a domino effect as the other racks fell in succession. The noise was deafening.
Tanaka leaned forward, riding the wave toward the front holding on to the side as best as he could. Unfortunately, it was his left arm that had the grip. The impact jolted his injured arm, causing him to let go into the dark unknown.
The first two racks held his weight but the next caved in. Despite the twisted metal and debris, Tanaka landed unimpaled but hard–very hard. He landed so quickly, he had no recollection of the fall and a few moments passed before he realized where he was and that he needed to move.
But he couldn’t move.
Something heavy was pinning down his legs.
The second ball he threw earlier had taken out the single light covering that area of the warehouse. The twisted and collapsed racks had formed a kind of cave which amplified the darkness. This was good for hiding, but bad for locating his gun. He had lost it during the blast.
He could see the dimly lit pathway four feet in front of him. That pathway led to the assailants and presumably his daughter. But with his legs trapped, he wasn’t going anywhere.
He heard men shouting. Turning his head to the right, he saw the straps of his bag wrapped around his arm. The bag itself was smothered by several reams of paper and some machinery that had fallen from one of the nearby shelves. He pulled the strap and heard the canvas rip, but the bag was now close enough for his fingers to find the opening. He began feeling for the Glock 29 he had packed in his bag as a backup.
He lurched his body over twisting his spine and a fresh agony tore through his left shoulder. He managed to get his arm loose from the strap, but he was still unable to move his legs freely. Pushing away more bundles of paper, he fumbled through the bag desperately searching and feeling for the plastic shell of his gun.
He heard footsteps and indistinct voices growing louder.
While groping for the gun, he kicked both legs with the fierceness of a cornered animal. Using his left knee as a crowbar for mechanical advantage, he managed to slide his right leg out from under the load. Surprisingly responsive, he used his free leg to push on the load. Just a little more and his left leg would be free too.
Meanwhile, his right hand had continued its search for the backup gun. His fingers met the unmistakable shape just in time to see a pair of Bruno Magli oxfords in the dim light from the pathway. From bag to shoes took less than a second. Tanaka squeezed the trigger and the man screamed in pain. In his confusion, the man reflexively recoiled his leg causing him to fall flat on his face. A face that stared directly at Tanaka… and his gun. A second shot rang from the Glock before the man could gasp. Three down, at least two to go.
He kicked hard with his right foot, briefly wondering if his leg bones were shattering. But he knew what a broken leg felt like; his were bruised and probably bleeding, but not broken.
The effort paid off. He had kicked off a fully loaded metal tool box. With the box gone, he would be able to drag his left leg out.
However, before he could do that, he heard a clang and saw a small round object roll into his cave smoking.