Japan

Today for breakfast the guard brought a small portion of rice, weak miso soup, and two strips of raw whale meat. My guess is that the ship was running low on provisions and the crew was beginning to dip into their catch, because that was the first time whale appeared on the menu. Oddly enough it tasted more like beef or elk than something that would come out of the ocean, and there was almost no fat whatsoever in the meat. I finished quickly, setting the bento tray on the bed, and stared out the porthole into the rising sun. Japan felt very close. The other whaling ships were closing in, one of them clearly a harpoon boat, with its exposed kill weapon mounted on the bow, and several others further out, bright white rectangles cutting across the horizon.

I stuck my hand in my pocket and removed the now well worn scrap of paper Yumi had dropped through the porthole: Wayne. Do not stop believe. – Yumi. I turned it over, as I had done a thousand times, and a thousand times saw nothing new.

“You can’t trust her.”

“Heh?”

I turned to find Spegg, his sinewy arms folded over his chest, leaning against the far wall. It’d been a long time since I’d seen him, and the sight of his big, black eyes and thick, rubbery lips sent a jolt up my spine.

“Spegg.”

“Hello, Wayne.” Spegg leaned off the wall and surveyed the room. “I see you and the Japanese have had a falling out.”

I frowned. “What the hell do you want?”

“Ask yourself,” Spegg said, swiping a bony finger on my breakfast tray. He stuck his finger in his mouth and hummed. “Mmm. Delicious. You know whales were hunted to extinction in the early twenty-second century.”

I rolled my eyes. “Like I give a shit. What do you mean I can’t trust her?”

Spegg picked up the bento box and licked it. I sneered as he tossed it back onto the bed, smacking his lips. “The Japanese are a proud, tight-knit group, Robertson. There’s the Japanese, and then there is everyone else. Do you know what the Japanese call people who look like you?”

“Black?”

“No, asshole. They call you Gaijin. That’s what they call anyone who doesn’t look like them. It means foreigner. But not in the way that you understand it. Their definition goes much deeper than that. To the Japanese, gaijin means stranger, alien, and in some cases… enemy. But above all, it means you’re a lower class of human. And now that the entire Western world has gone up in smoke, they’re probably feeling pretty proud of themselves. Do you really think Yumi is going to risk her life for some bastard gaijin who doesn’t even have country?”

“I really hadn’t thought about it.”

“Oh, wow. Imagine, Wayne Robertson not planning ahead.”

“Fuck off.”

Spegg grinned. “Look out the window, Wayne.”

I shook my head and checked the porthole. “Oh, look… it’s the ocean.”

“A little to the left, buddy.”

I grumbled and pressed my face against the glass. There, creeping over the horizon, was the coast of Japan’s main island, and the towering skyscrapers of Tokyo.

“It’s bigger than I thought.”

“In less than an hour this ship will glide into port, and the Japanese military will escort you to another, probably much smaller room, where you will be interrogated, tried and convicted as a spy for North Korea, and likely spend the rest of your life in prison, or worse yet, traded to the DPRK in a prisoner exchange.”

“No, that’s not going to happen,” I said, drumming my fingers on the window. “I’ve got the truth on my side.”

Spegg shook his head. “The prisons are filled with people who have the truth on their side. You’re a goddamn scientist, Wayne. Surely you’re not that stupid.”

“I just need to make a convincing case.”

“Oh, right. Let’s see. You used a radio telescope to intercept a transmission from the future, and eventually brought a man/fish hybrid and a score of his friends through a wormhole to Antarctica where they were captured by the Russian navy, who got into a sea battle with the Americans, and somehow a nuclear bomb got loose and started World War Three. Meanwhile, the owner of the radio array, Michael Telders, an American celebrity playboy was supplying North Korea was cash and weapons so he could use their land for another radio telescope array, the very one which Japan refused to have installed in Hokkaido. And the only reason you made that call to him was to say what’s up, I’m going to be in Japan for a while, let’s meet for a drink and catch up.”

“Well, if you put it that way, it does sound a little weak.”

“A little? That story might even get you hanged.”

I rolled my eyes. “So what do you suggest I do? Kill everyone on the ship and drive this fucking thing back out to sea?”

“Now we’re talking.”

“That’s impossible. No… no way. Yumi is my only hope,” I said, glancing at her note. “I trust her. She’s got a plan.”

“You’re blind. You expect her convince the Japanese that you’re a decent guy and all this is just a big misunderstanding?”

“I don’t know. But she’s all I’ve got. She’ll come through. She has to.”

“Then I’ll see you in prison,” Spegg said. “Don’t bend over for the sushi,” he added, and vanished.

I took a deep breath and sat down on the bed. Perhaps he’s right, I thought. I looked at Yumi’s note, then crumpled it up and pitched it into the trash can. Fuck this. Time to kick some ass.

Just then Nisshin Maru’s air horn blared. I got up and checked the window. The fleet had drawn in close, and they each sounded their air horns in rapid succession. To my left, Japan was in full view. I clenched my jaw.

Suddenly there was a noise outside the door, and then the sound of a key wiggling into the lock. I spun around, clenching my fists, ready to sucker punch the guard, grab his weapon and start killing shit. The door swung open.

I flinched, ready to fight, but what I saw next stopped me cold. There, in the doorway, in a tight, black diving suit, with cold, determined eyes, and gripping a huge fucking gun, stood Yumi. At her feet was the guard’s crumpled body.

My mouth dropped open.

“Wayne-san!” She screamed. “Follow me now!”