Small Talk


I came upon the outskirts of a town and met a group of men eating.

They were not pleased to see me.

“What do you want?” one of the men asked, gesturing with a chopstick as his words rumbled through my thoughts.

“Gao,” I answered. “I need to speak with him.”

The men chuckled and shook their heads.

“No,” the one man said, “Gao will feed on you and then upon us for sending you to him. Go and leave us in peace.”

I felt the urge to reply in an unpleasant and impolite way, but I held my tongue and stilled my hands. My anger had gotten the better of me lately, and I didn’t like it.

“Why do you need to speak with him?” the man asked before I’d gone more than a step.

I turned back to face them. “He killed a friend and took some home to cook.”

“Why are you so concerned?” The man shook his head while his friends looked on. “You are worth little, if not nothing. You should be thankful your friend filled Gao’s belly.”

One of the others must have spoken, for the man nodded.

“Yes, Tsing is right,” the man smiled. “Gao might be pleased if we brought him fresh meat.”

I put my hands on the Colts. “Think about what you’ll say next and what you think you want to do.”

“I know what we want to do,” the man said, putting down his chopsticks and getting to his feet. “We want to kill you, little pig, and bring your flesh to Gao. He’ll pay us well.”

The man reached behind his back and brought out a curved knife.

I drew a Colt and put a round in the center of his chest.

He stood there for a moment, blood spreading across his shirt and darkening the silk. The knife fell from his hands, and he sat down with a hard and heavy thud. His comrades watched as he reached up, touched the stain, and then slipped off the back of his seat and lay on the ground.

“Anyone else fancy taking me as meat for Gao?” I asked, drawing the other Colt.

The men shook their heads, their faces noticeably pale.

“Good,” I said, and while I had a strong mind to feed their friend to them, I left them to their meal.

Still, I was in a town. Someone, I hoped, would let me know where that bastard was.

Or they wouldn’t, and I’d need to finish my chores.

I was fine with either one.

#China #Horrorstories

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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