Category Archives: Short Stories

Tanaka and the Yakuza’s Daughter eBook #2 in Short Stories

I’m still in shock how well the story is doing.  It has been downloaded 2,342 times since Tuesday and is currently #2 in the free Fiction > Short Stories category. (the screenshot below was when it was #3)

Needless to say, Joe and I are thrilled by the response (including two new customer positive reviews).  I keep hoping it breaks into the top 100 Free in Kindle Store… but not yet.

We are working hard on the novel.  It is finished, but much editing still remains.  If you are interested in reading chapters (or the whole thing) and give us your opinion, please let me know.

If you don’t have a copy of the short story yet, grab one for free and let me know what you think.

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Tanaka and the Yakuza’s Daughter Kindle eBook now FREE at Amazon.com

Grab it absolutely free and let me know what you think!

It is currently #85 in Fiction > Short Stories (7,500 words) and #2,369 Free in the entire Kindle Store.

Update: two hours later (9 AM EST), it is #55 and #1,578.
Update: an hour and a half later (10:30), there are 348 downloads and it is #10 and #473 in the entire Kindle Store (plus #56 in Mystery and Thrillers)
Update: At 2 PM it is #4 in Fiction > Short Stories and #147 overall

From #2,369 to #147 on the first day ain’t bad!

Tanaka and the Yakuza’s Daughter Part II

Here is Part II (click here to read Part I) – Enjoy!

PART II

 

Tanaka woke slowly and with difficulty. His neck felt painfully stretched from supporting his slumped head for so long.  How long had he been out?  He had no idea.  As he came to full consciousness, he sensed a motion in his surroundings.

They were moving.  He was in the back of a van with darkened windows.  The road was bumpy, causing no little discomfort to his legs, his ribs, his left shoulder–he couldn’t think of a body part untouched.  The air was thick with cigarette smoke.

“Ah, Kazuo.  Glad you could join us.  Your name has the character for ‘peace’ in it, doesn’t it?  You are not a very peaceful man.  I expect to be compensated for the loss of my three men.”

It was an unfamiliar voice, but he had called him by his real first name.  Tanaka’s mind began to race, searching for who might know this information.  This man knew his real name and how it was written.  Kazuo could be written with several different characters in Japanese.  Perhaps the people behind this were from his time in Japan?  He left that life twenty years ago.  But the past had ways of catching up and influencing the present.

A single dome light lit the entire back of the van.  It was enough to see around but details were scant.  There was an occasional small, red glow when the man took a drag from his cigarette.

“Where’s my daughter?”

“Oh, she is perfectly safe.  If you wish there to be no change in her condition, however, you will be wise to do exactly as we tell you,” he said with a face that seemed to be void of emotions.

The man blew smoke in Tanaka’s direction and then tossed the cigarette on the van floor.  He used his shoes to stamp it out.  His expensive looking Italian cap-toe oxfords shook back and forth until he was satisfied that the small, red light was extinguished.

Tanaka silently appraised the situation.  The van only had one window from which to see out.  The other windows were blackened.  That one window faced the front, the only link to the outside world.  Looking out from there, he could see a portion of the road; it was raining and dark, and there didn’t seem to be any other vehicles on the road. 

Entering the warehouse shortly after three, he had left a bright, cloudless sky.  Judging from the darkness, he figured he had been out at least five hours.  They could be anywhere; he couldn’t even be sure which state he was in.

His hands were chained behind his back and fastened to a bar on the wall of the van.  His legs were likewise bound.  His range of motion was virtually nil. 

The normal van seats had been removed.  In their place were two benches running the length of the van.  Tanaka was on one bench facing his captors, who were sitting on the other side.

“You have no idea who we are–do you Kazuo?”

Tanaka’s eyes lifted up to get a look at the man sitting down in front of him.  His mouth, he kept closed.  The man was playing with a Walther P38 double-action 9mm Parabellum pistol.  “Parabellum,” Tanaka knew was from the Latin saying “Si vis pacem, para bellum,” meaning, “If you wish for peace, prepare for war.”

He watched as the man ejected and reinserted the cartridge casually and repeatedly.  The man seemed to want to draw attention to it.  Tanaka figured the gun must have been made sometime in the early forties.  Standard Nazi issue.

“Ah, I thought you might be interested in this toy,” he said noticing the object Tanaka had focused on.  “I happened upon it at an estate auction in Berndorf, Austria a few years ago.”  The man flipped the gun around and held out the handle as if to give it to Tanaka to examine.  “It was expensive, but well worth it, no?”  Tanaka rejected the offer with his eyes.

“No?”  The man pulled the gun back to his chest with a mock hurt look.  “Well, the estate was owned by a member of the Krupp family.  I was told the gun itself belonged to Karl August Hanke who was the last Reichsführer of the SS in the final days of the war.”  The man held the pistol up high and close to his eyes as if to examine its sights.  While doing this, he occasionally pointed it casually at Tanaka.  “Hanke also had the nickname of the Hangman of Breslau.  I do love my history.  Don’t you?”  The man paused to allow Tanaka a chance to add to the conversation.  He didn’t and so the man continued.  “I cannot say, however, with certitude that the history of this particular pistol is accurate.  But one likes to think such things are true.”

Tanaka spat out some saliva mixed with blood.  They must have had some fun with him while he was out, he thought.

“Not a topic that interests you, I see.”  The man set the gun down beside him.  Tanaka turned his head away.  “Then let’s get down to business, shall we?  It seems you had a run in with my boss some time ago.  You caused a great stink.  Now, except for the matter of you killing my men, I personally have nothing against you.  In fact, I took great trouble and risked losing respect from my employees by restraining them.  They wanted to cut your throat.” 

Adjusting his footing for stability in a moving vehicle, the man stood and with a thin, pale hand hoisted Tanaka’s chin so their eyes would meet.

“You should thank me,” the man spat out with mild anger.  He was less careful with his speech; “thank” came out as “dank.”

Tanaka remained silent and met his captor’s cold, steel eyes with his, burning with hate.  The man pumped his shoulders back and regained his cool.  He had blond hair and an accent that became sharper as his emotions flared.  With each sentence his pitch began high and fell, fell, fell from there only to shoot back up at the start of the next thought.  Tanaka was a master at accents for foreigners speaking Japanese, but being a non-native English speaker himself, it was a challenge listening to another foreigner speak English.  From some Scandinavian country perhaps?

“Interesting.  I’ve read your record.  I’ve talked to people who worked with you.  Sadly, they had to be disposed of–we wouldn’t want you to be tipped off now would we?”  He spoke with a lopsided grin that gave Tanaka the creeps.

There was one other guard with him and presumably someone driving.  The guard held a black automatic weapon of some kind and his clothes were black from head to toe.  The black mask completed the look–like a Muslim terrorist as seen on CNN readying his weapon to fire a celebratory burst above an increasingly stoked up crowd. 

The man with the accent, in contrast, was well dressed and groomed.  He could play the part of a European gentleman, save for a large scar down his right cheek and an even deeper scar in his heart.  He seemed to be enjoying himself.

Letting Tanaka’s head drop, the man turned to sink back into his seat. 

“They all spoke of your fortitude in extraordinary situations.  Even the Baathists failed to get you to talk, I hear.  But now I have the poison dart and your heel is exposed.”

Tanaka spoke up. “Where are we going?”

“Oh, we will be there momentarily.  But I wouldn’t be in a rush if I were you.  Just know that we have all night,” he said giving out a chuckle.  “This will be a night to remember.  A night my boss has been planning for many years.”

Tanaka spent the rest of the ride in silence.  The man with the Scandinavian accent seemed content to do the same. 

He noticed that they had torn his shirt where the bullet wound was and had half patched him up.  Was he to be made comfortable for his death?  Or were they merely hoping to prolong his torture?

They had also removed his bullet-proof vest and the Gerber LHR combat knife that was hidden under his right pant leg.  He couldn’t see his leg well or use his hands to feel down to make sure it was missing, but he noticed the knife on the bench next to his captor’s Parabellum looked just like it.  He still felt a slight pressure on the bottom of his right leg, however.  It appeared they were kind enough to leave the empty leg sheath.

The chains on his feet and hands were tight and secured to the van.  He didn’t have many options now, but it appeared that they would have to remove the chains to get him out of the van.  It was the only glimmer of hope he could see.

Presently, the van made a turn onto an even bumpier road.  After about five minutes of more turns and bumps the van made a sudden stop.

“Alright, Kazuo-san. Time to get out and meet the boss.”

The man reached in his pocket, toying with his keys acting as if he planned to unlock Tanaka then and there.

“Silly me.  I really can’t allow you to leave at liberty,” he chuckled as he dangled his keys in front of Tanaka before dropping them back in his pocket.

The Scandinavian snapped his fingers at the guard who brought over a bottle and a large piece of cheesecloth. 

“I do apologize,” he said as he doused the cheesecloth with some liquid from the bottle, “but I simply do not trust you.”

Tanaka struggled as the man placed the cloth over his mouth and nose.

“Don’t struggle.  Just say good night, Gracie.” 

Everything went black.

Tanaka and the Yakuza’s Daughter Part I

Here is Part I of the Tanaka and the Yakuza’s Daughter short story:

PART I

 

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.

I’m sure I’ll post part 2-4, but if you are impatient (and want to make my day), please check it out here for Kindle or for the Nook.

Tanaka and the Yakuza’s Daughter for .99 + Free Audio

Now available at Amazon and BN.com!

As mentioned earlier, I’m also bundling the Audio book MP3s with the ebook for free.  (I’ll release that as podcasts here starting next week.)

I’m very excited about this first step.  I’m working with someone on the full length novel.  He has an unusual gift of beautifully polishing otherwise dull sentences.  We both have “real” jobs so progress is painfully slow.  But progress is being made. 

Back to this story…

Akira Tanaka’s past as an undercover agent in Tokyo’s underworld has caught up with his present.  Now he must find out who kidnapped his only daughter, and why.  Can he rescue her before it’s too late?

The lives of a father, a daughter, and a yakuza’s daughter are all intertwined in this fast-paced 7,500 word short story.  This is the first in a series of thrilling adventures featuring Tanaka.

 My grand marketing plan will involve:

  1. Contacting friends and family begging them to purchase it and write an honest review.
  2. Releasing the promo video (which is awesome, by the way) on Youtube.com through both my new account and TheJapanShop.com’s.
  3. Work on getting name recognition (twitter, facebook, forums, blog posts) while writing and writing…

We’ll see how this goes.  But here is the first step.

Tanaka and the Yakuza’s Daughter will Ship with Free Audio Book

I decided to record Tanaka and the Yakuza’s Daughter a while back.  I planned to podcast it like I am doing with George and the Elraton Gang and then also sell the audio book bundled with the PDF, Epub, and Kindle format.

But I’m just starting out.  I need to have something special to encourage readers to come.  So, like TheJapanShop.com’s ebooks, I’ll list a download link on the last page of the ebook.

For .99 USD, you will be able to buy Tanaka and the Yakuza’s Daughter AND get a FREE audio book with it. 

The story is finished and ready to upload, but… I now have to get a friend to record and master the recordings.  That is today’s goal.

Here are the first few paragraphs of the 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.

Coming soon…

Released: Two for One CJ Martin Short Stories

Released!  CJ Martin’s first collection of short stories.

Two for One – George and the Elraton Gang + The Aliens of the Wild West

Amazon: .99
B&N: .99

Both stories will be released in audio format and for free in a series of podcasts.  I hope to have the first podcast ready tomorrow. (Edit: done)

This collection includes two short stories by CJ Martin. Unlike his Tanaka series, these stories are a touch lighthearted. Together, the total word count is 6,120. Both of these stories are each well-suited (intended) for reading in a single sitting.

STORY #1 – George and the Elraton Gang
George will simply not put up with a gang of terrorist rats. These rats have taken over the old Henderson’s house across the street. Harnessing the power of his secret labyrinth, George wields an ultimate weapon to battle the rats. The rats will not surrender without a fight, however. Full invasion ensues.

Who couldn’t love a story about a rat named Princess making a Churchillian speech and a nod to an ancient folk-tale. George and the Elraton Gang is a 3,800 word short story with a surprising twist to the common dream-like theme.

STORY #2 – The Aliens of the Wild West
The Boss and Jimmy are inseparable, but it wasn’t always like that. A mere five years prior, the two were on opposite sides in the Civil War. Their like-personalities and needs, however, trumped any previous political differences. Now, the two face giant aliens and the very real possibility that they will be kidnapped and used for experimentation on a strange planet far away.

As you read, just remember, it isn’t what you think…

The Aliens of the Wild West is a 2,300 word story.