Hurt Locker

red lamp

Yumi stared at me through her tight, black diving hood. I hesitated.

“Wayne! Go now!” She said, hastily checking the corridor for others.

“Wait,” I said, my palms toward her, “Are you sure you want to do this, Yumi?”

The girl’s eyes widened. Her hands were shaking, and I could tell she didn’t understand. “Go now!” She said in a fierce, urgent voice.

“Yumi, give me the gun and get out of here,” I said, reaching for the weapon.

She quickly yanked her hand back. “Why?”

“Look, I’m already in trouble. If you give me the gun, I can take care of myself. There’s no need for you to get caught up in all of this.”

She shook her head, frustrated. “No time!!”

Suddenly there was a noise around the corner. I couldn’t see from inside the room, but Yumi turned quickly and raised the weapon. A man shouted excitedly in Japanese. Yumi flinched, her gun barked, and whoever it was collapsed to the floor with a hollow thump. Yumi turned her head slowly to me. “NO. TIME.”

“Gotcha,” I said, and grabbed my shoes.

Yumi sprinted down the hall past the dead sailor, and flew down a staircase into the belly of the ship. I chased her past the kitchen and the lounge, and into a small, closet sized room at the end of the hall. Once inside, Yumi flipped on the light and quietly shut the door. She glanced at me, then pointed at a hatch in the floor. “This way.”

I nodded and yanked on the handle. Underneath, a ladder disappeared into darkness.

“Go,” she said.

“Where does this go?”


“Are we getting off the ship?”

Yumi glared at me. “Hayaku.”

I didn’t know the word, but I understood: Hurry the fuck up. I quickly put on my shoes, then turned around and stepped onto the ladder. The rungs were cold, and I shivered as I climbed down. Yumi followed, and pulled the hatch shut as I was stepping off onto the floor below. I rubbed my arms and waited. When Yumi was down, she flipped on a little flashlight and found a switch on the wall. A red light in a little protective cage flickered on above our heads, followed by a few more every ten feet or so that led out of the room and down a hallway.

“Come,” she said, and quietly jogged down the hallway past a row of heavy steel doors, each secured with thick, steel latches and fist-sized padlocks. Yumi paused in front of one of the doors, her breath visible in the dull, crimson light, and removed a key from a little zipper pocket on her right thigh.

“What’s—” I began, but my voice was immediately drowned out by the piercing shrill of the Nisshin Maru’s emergency sirens.

Yumi looked up, briefly, then narrowed her eyes, and snatched the padlock.

“That’s our song!” I said, raising my voice above the noise.

Yumi slammed the key into the lock and snapped it open.

“I hope you know what you’re doing!” I added.

The door swung wide, and Yumi flipped on the light. I recoiled, shielding my eyes from the bright, white fluorescents.

Yumi anxiously tapped me on the chest. “Wayne-san!”

I nodded, holding up my hand, waiting for my eyes to adjust. “Hang on.”

The shock passed momentarily, and when it did, I peered into the room. It was a room like any other on the ship: low ceiling, green walls, and a white tile floor. The only difference was—this room was filled with guns.

Yumi looked at me expectantly.

“Oh, God.”