THE SHINOBI ASSASSIN
Car fumes and alleyway trash mixed with aromas of roasted duck and steamed dumplings. The evening showers had ended and the sky darkened, neon signs along the stretch of Chinatown reflecting against wet bitumen.
Dong Bingbing, or Cherry, to those who knew her, pulled her trolley along the sidewalk, as she did every night for the past twenty years. She stopped in at the tea-shop, then the Best Choice Oriental Grocery. With her trolley full, she crossed the busy road and walked into the alleyway beside the Dor Fook Jewelry shop. It was only a ten minute walk from there to her ground floor apartment on West 24th Place, and she was eager to get home.
The alleyway was empty and far darker than the glowing street of Chinatown, the buildings either side looming over her. She had only walked twenty more yards when the ground beneath her began to tremble. At first Cherry thought she had stepped awkwardly, but when the shaking continued she knew it was something else. An earthquake? She frowned back toward Chinatown, the people in the distance seemingly undisturbed by the event.
The ground shook harder now, and she let out a little cry, gripping both hands tight on the handle of her cart. A cracking sounded between her feet, and she stared down, eyes wide.
She tried to run, but the violent motions threw her from one foot to the other. Trashcans rattled and the nearby dumpster thumped against the brick wall. Her trolley toppled and onions tumbled onto the dirty bitumen.
The ground gave way, breaking apart between Cherry’s feet, and from within the opening, a fiery light ignited her in a crimson glow. She screamed for help, but lost her footing and fell. She grabbed onto the edge of the broken ground, fingers rigid. A man passed the end of the alleyway in the distance, and she cried out, “HEL—”
Her cry died as a hard hand gripped her mouth, russet skinned with a jeweled, gold cuff. She mumbled her cries for help, tears filling terrified eyes. Then the hand pulled her downward, her fingers raking at the bitumen.
The last hold she had on the edge slipped away, and she tumbled inward, falling into the fiery abyss, and vanishing forevermore...
In the shadows of the alleyway, a man stood, darker still within the shroud of a purple-black cloak. And although his face remained hidden, the corners of his mouth turned upwards and his perfect teeth shone in a crazed smile.
Zeek Crabtree sat in an over-cushioned floral couch in his yellow Hazchem suit and orange rubber boots and gloves. Mrs. Kravitz stepped into the room, her purple rinse bob-cut bouncing as she carried a tray of tea and steaming cookies, fresh from the oven.
Zeek watched on as she poured tea into dainty floral cups and passed one to him. It was impossible to take the teacup by the delicate handle, so instead he cupped the thing in his rubber gloved hand. She held out a saucer with cookies and Zeek took one.
“Thanks a bunch, Mrs. Kravitz,” he said, grinning.
She smiled awkwardly as she took another look over his attire, perching with her own tea and took a graceful sip.
Zeek stuffed the entire cookie into his mouth and said, “How wong hab you hab the probwem, Mrs. Kravitz?” A portion of chewed up cookie ejected from his mouth. Then he downed his tea with one enormous gulp.
Mrs. Kravitz watched on with a mixture of disgust and bewilderment.
“Mr. Crabtree, wasn’t the tea a little hot?”
“Scalding, actually.” Zeek tried to smile but tears were forming in his eyes. “So,” he said. “Had the problem for long?”
“Since the funeral, I suppose.”
Zeek nodded. “That’s usually about the time it happens.”
“When I came home I heard his model trains. I went into the room and it was moving around the track, but when I switched it off it didn’t stop. It’s been going ever since.” Her eyes dropped to her tea. “I don’t go in there anymore.”
Zeek nodded, stood up and brushed cookie crumbs from his lap. “You mind if I see the room?”
“Of course,” she said, placing her cup down and standing. “Please, follow me.”
In one hand Zeek grasped a crowbar, and in the other he pulled a vacuum cleaner behind him, banging into walls as he followed Mrs. Kravitz down the hall.
“What was his name?” he asked.
“Albert, but I always called him Bertie.” She stopped and turned, a door between them. “This is the one.”
Zeek firmed his lips, a forbidding stare in his blue eyes. He reached out with his rubber gloved hand, twisted the door knob, and peeked into the room.
The room was dark, with the only light coming from the hallway and the gaps surrounding the curtains. There was a two-seater beside a tall bookcase, and a desk with computer and chair, but covering a large portion of the ground was a train set, with rolling hills and roads, paddocks and signals and miniature crossings. There was a locomotive chugging around the track in an endless loop, clicking and clacking, and making little Choo-Choo sounds.
Bertie sat in front of the train set with legs crossed like a pretzel, his flabby naked back to Zeek. The man was huge, at least three-hundred pounds. He wore a green-brown diaper, a blue train engineer’s hat, and nothing else.
As Zeek watched on in horror, Bertie’s head began to turn, rotating until he was staring right at Zeek, head one-hundred-and-eighty degrees to his body. The poltergeist’s skin was grey and his eyes were endless pits of blackness. There was a sickening bone clicking noise and his head returned to the train set.
Zeek slowly withdrew from the room and faced Mrs. Kravitz, his face drained of blood.
“Is he in there?” she asked, fingers locked together. “Is my Bertie in there?”
“Ah, yeah, he’s in there, all right,” he said. “Um, is there a reason why Bertie wouldn’t be wearing any clothes?”
“Oh!” Mrs. Kravitz’s eyes lit up and she pressed her hands over her heart. “That’s how he liked to play with his trains! It reminded him of his childhood. It’s true. He’s in there. He’s really in there!”
“And the diaper? Medical reasons was it?” Zeek asked, hopeful.
“No, that was part of the childhood fantasy. It made him feel special.”
“Special?” he said, eyebrows climbing. “I think you should wait out here, Mrs. Kravitz.”
“He’s got the black eyes going on. Sure sign he’s a poltergeist.”
“W-what does that mean?”
Zeek slid his goggles over his eyes and reached for the knob. “It means, Mrs. Kravitz ...” He stepped into the room. “This is gonna get physical.”
Zeek pressed the door shut behind him and as the latch clicked into place, Bertie’s head turned to face him once more, bones clicking. The poltergeist’s mouth parted and a green-grey tongue lulled out.
“Play time’s over, Bertie,” said Zeek, and he plugged the vacuum cleaner into the wall socket and flicked the switch. The vacuum whirred to life from the spinning motor within. When Zeek stood back up to face Bertie, the poltergeist was standing and facing him. And he was a freaking giant. Like Incredible Hulk had gone on a cheeseburger challenge and followed it up with a dumpster truck of Coke! He had colossal folds of grey overlapping fat, dimpled hanging thighs, and wobbling man-boobies. And of course, one awfully small, green-brown diaper.
“Yikes!” Zeek squealed. “I think I’m gonna need a bigger vacuum.”
Thanks for reading Chapter One, there'll be an update every 3 days. And if you just can't wait, the entire book is on Amazon with 16 colored illustrations!
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