Mr Masao Takeshi, vice president of the Ryou Corporation, squinted through the curtains of the Rialto Hotel’s breakfast room.
Outside, the brilliant May sun glittered off the water onto the buildings, filling the canal with a thousand colours. Tourists scampered over the bridge, pointing at boats, taking photos, and avoiding the Albanian scam artists at the foot of the stairs next to the stained glass boutiques. A bell rang from some distant square. Takeshi looked at his watch.
“Everyone away from the windows,” Takeshi said and straightened his Italian silk tie. “Mr Ryou’s gondola is arriving. I want everything tripled-checked, quadruple-checked… and whatever comes after that. Cutlery, the guestbook, newspapers, salami… you all know what happens now. Yukio, is the kitchen staff on standby?”
A small man with a goatee beard put a finger in his ear, then nodded.
“And the guests, Miss Minako?”
Miss Minako cocked her head. She also nodded.
“Good. Now I want you all out of sight when Mr Ryou arrives. Invisible. In this world you are from this minute on ghosts. We’ve worked too hard to fail now. I don’t need to remind you of what happened in Toledo.” Continue reading “The Man Maketh the Journey”
As Karen pushes through the revolving door the air begins to thicken with the tang of incense and soy sauce.
Sparkling neon lights flash blue and green and yellow messages against her white-shorts and t-shirt; in bold, red characters, a sign forbids a certain action, of which she is unsure—not to park, or spit, or linger too long in one place perhaps. She thrusts her ticket into her pocket and edges into the current of bodies. Continue reading “A Breath of Fresh Tokyo”
Prue poked a strand of hair in her bun and watched her new husband’s shadow skulk around the rear of the car on his way to open the door.
His mood had worsened since they’d landed, and she regretted allowing him to become intimate with the spirits selection on the way over. Bloody Mary and Single Malt Whisky were terrible in-flight dancing partners. Somewhere over the Indian Ocean he had passed out while urinating in the toilets and it was only the swift action of the attendants in first class that had saved her from irrevocable embarrassment. Matthew wasn’t a loud drunk – he was too repressed even for that thankfully – but he was an unruly one, and if her plan was to work, she needed to keep him compliant (and sober) in the coming days. Continue reading “What happened in Paris? (Part 2)”
When we arrived we were given cakes wrapped in soft paper, toothbrushes, fresh milk and lemon-scented towels.
Father spoke quietly and mother fussed with the sheets while my sister and I quarrelled over beds. There was a football; Father said I could kick it against the wall if I promised to be good, which I did for a while before my sister took a pair of scissors to it. Then a man wearing a raincoat came to drop off a box of wet books and oil paintings. “The milk’s out,” he said, like he was reading the weather. Continue reading “The corridor”
Pluck your eyebrows, reduce your calorie intake, choose the more expensive moisturisers, hold in that fart until the elevator empties, let your boss take you out for lunch but wear better shoes and don’t give an inch, download that song your friend said was a good soundtrack for sex, theme your iPhone and leave it on your desk unlocked so people will notice that you are an individual, BOING! an ex-colleague wrote on your wall.
Continue reading “One thing at a time”
Millicent was about to leave for golf when they called asking for Terence Browning’s next of kin. ‘Mrs Browning’, she assured the nurse, had not existed for years.
“I have the records here in front of me,” the nurse replied.
In the antique cabinet she kept in the sitting room, Millicent had records of her own—records which proved she owed no debt to one Mr Terence Browning, nor had any obligation to get into her BMW and drive three hours down to Romford on the first sunny day in a month. But for reasons she could not explain, she cancelled her game and did exactly that. Continue reading “Too Good for People like Us”
Maintain stock. Serve the customer. Protect the revenue.
Twenty-four hours a day, this is what I do. I record every square nanometre of the shop floor, track customer analytics, monitor stock levels, conduct transactions, and upload the hourly profit statements. The programming dictates. Continue reading “The Programming Dictates”