Welcome to Day 1 of
The October Frights Blog Hop
Many thanks to our host, Anita Stewart, for all her hard work
organizing the blog hop.
I hope everyone has stayed well through this
But the most wonderful time of the year is upon us and
I'm posting a short story in parts over the five days of the hop,
as well as other posts.
I hope you enjoy part 1 of
The Land of the Rising Sun
Karl lay sprawled across a jagged rock on the coast of the Pacific Ocean. Waves lapped toward him before gently pulling away. It was close to dawn, the time of the rising sun. The bright, life-giving star would make its appearance soon, punctual, steadfast and unfailing, like a faithful lover.
This would be his first sunrise in ten years.
Thirty-six hours earlier. Outskirts of Sendai, Japan
Karl and his elite search and rescue team climbed into the large bed of the Diahatsu Kei truck. Sendai had suffered extensive damage thanks to the seven point three earthquake. Thick humidity, sulfur, and smoke hung in the air creating a hazy curtain. The main roads impassable, they drove along a dirt road riddled with ruts and potholes, until they reached the hard hit village outside of Sendai.
Karl gazed at the sky as he did each evening when darkness defeated the light of day, wanting its turn for the world’s attention. The stars welcomed him, winking from an immeasurable distance. The moon reached down brushing him with her soft beams. The splendor of the night wooed and seduced him into believing that being a creature of the dark wasn’t so bad.
This was Karl’s sixth trip to the island of many quakes. Still, when the earth shuddered for a few devastating moments, the destruction and death left behind served as a harsh reminder of her strength and ruthlessness. Dynamic wooden structures of ancient Japanese architecture lay shattered in piles. Gone were the tiled thatched roofs and beautifully symmetrical curved eaves suggesting the balance and harmony so important in Japanese culture.
“Karl.” A young man’s voice snapped him from his thoughts. “We’re here.”
“Oh, sorry, let’s go.” Karl led the group into a dreary room in the back of a dilapidated house.
Inside, their Japanese contact and interpreter, Hachiro, greeted them. A man of slender build with grey speckled throughout his black hair and a cigarette permanently hanging from his lips, he was the one person who knew who and what they really were.
Hachiro’s scent gave away his apprehension and nervousness. Karl learned long ago to suppress his natural instinct to go for the jugular. However, the new recruits worried him. He could never be sure if one would unravel this close to a live human. At six foot, two hundred ten pounds, Karl would use of insurmountable strength and lightning fast reflexes to protect their translator.
Hachiro bowed graciously. “Karl-san.” His cigarette bobbed up and down in his mouth. “Welcome friend.”
Karl bowed in return. “Hachiro-san, thank you. I’m sorry to be here amid a tragedy once again.”
“As always, we are grateful for your help.”
Hachiro stepped to the front of the room and settled down the small crowd. “Good evening, everyone. Thank you for coming to Japan’s assistance. The building you will be searching tonight is a small hospital. It was scheduled to be reinforced next year.” Sorrow darkened his weary face. “It’s been four days since the earthquake. If anyone can find survivors underneath the deep rubble, it is you, our strong and invincible allies.” He wiped the sweat from his brow with an old napkin from his pocket. “The area has been secured and the regular rescue teams have been sent off to rest after working double shifts. You are free to do your job without fear of being discovered.”
He directed their attention to a long table pushed up against the wall. Lined in a row were three large insulated jugs, clearly marked in English:
CHILLED ROOM TEMPERATURE WARM – 98.6
“Please, help yourself to the nourishment provided. Thank you.”
Karl filled his cup to the brim with chilled blood, his preference on a warm, muggy night and then took his place on the makeshift platform. “First, I’d like to commend you all for making the difficult decisions to help the mortals instead of taking from them.” He tipped his cup toward the group. “Let’s raise our glasses to each other and to a night of success. Cheers! Or as they say here in Japan, Kampai.” His throat parched and dry, he emptied the cup in three gulps. The cool liquid flowed down his throat and he relished each drop. “Please check the list.” He held up a paper. “To see who you are partnered with tonight. Good luck.”
Karl chose Maggie, now and forever a sixty-year old nurse, to accompany him. It was her first rescue. A solid woman, with white hair and a jovial personality, she joked that if she had to be turned why couldn’t it be when she was younger and thinner.
While their human counterparts battled the debris with sledgehammers and heavy equipment, Karl and Maggie used their bare hands to toss immense concrete walls yards away, like Frisbees. Within minutes, the created a tunnel they could maneuver through.
With flashlights clenched between their teeth, they crawled through the loose fragments of broken stone. Dust burned their eyes. Jagged pieces of metal and shattered glass littered their path, cutting exposed skin.
The smell hit Karl first, triggering his mouth to water. He swallowed hard and forced back his instinct against the fresh blood pulsing through the veins of a live human.
Next to him, Maggie stopped. On hands and knees, her body bristled like a Halloween cat.
“Are you alright?” he asked. Even with intense training, nights like these were the hardest on the newbies.
“Yes, I…I think so,” she said visibly gathering her composure.
Karl squeezed her arm and nodded. “I think they’re down there.” Fast and light on their feet, they flew down and inside the dark cavern. He bolted to far side of the area, kicking bulky pieces of debris out of his way with ease and hauled the concrete wall over his head like Atlas holding the world.
“Maggie, can you check for a pulse?” He kept his voice calm. “I know there’s a lot of blood.”
With wide eyes, she licked her lips and inched closer. A moment of hesitation but her trembling hand pressed against the warm flesh of the victim’s neck. “She’s alive, but barely. I don’t think we should move her by hand. She needs a stretcher.”
“You go and get help. I’ll stay with her.”
“Thank you. I need some air.” Maggie scooted backwards away from the bloodied woman.
Maggie bolted to the tunnel’s opening.
“Hey, you did great.” Karl called after her. “It’ll get easier. I promise.”
PART TWO TOMORROW....
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Thanks for stopping by today. Please remember to visit the other
horror and paranormal authors
participating in The October Frights Blog Hop.
Are You Afraid of the Dark?
Night to Dawn Magazine & Books LLC
Always Another Chapter
Spreading the Writer's Word
Yours in Storytelling
Angela Yuriko Smith