Drunkenly wandering through the streets of Austin, Chris and Sakura leaned on each other, laughing at the private jokes they shared from their days at the academy. It’d been five years since they’d seen each other, and after visiting for nearly three hours on 6th street, hopping from bar to bar, they were drunk to the gills and busy feeling each other up while trying to act like they weren’t.

“You know what would be good?” Chris slurred, looking at Sakura, her face inches from his.

“What?” She asked, hiccupping cutely as the stepped over a large crack in the sidewalk.

“We could go back to my hotel and watch movies! And order more drinks!” He offered, thinking of how much fun he could really have if he got Sakura alone in a room for the night.

Sakura seemed a little put off by the idea. “I don’t want to waste your money on movies, but the drinks sound awesome. Where are you staying?”

“At this small hotel just a few streets ahead,” Chris said with a wide smile. He slung his arm around Sakura’s waist, adjusting her arm over his shoulder, and moved to hasten their advance. Looking down her cleavage with a sidelong glance, Chris noted the necklace on a silver chain. A small knife, perhaps an inch long, with an onyx set in the hilt.

“Nice necklace,” Chris found himself commenting.

“Oh,” Sakura said, bringing a hand up to her necklace before frowning. She looked down at it. “Oh no… looks like I have to call this night short.”

“Why?” Chris asked.

“Work is signaling for me,” Sakura said, her voice now distant. “You’d better go. I wouldn’t want you to meet who I work with.”

“I wouldn’t mind,” Chris said, pressing the idea.

Sakura fell silent for a long time, allowing their trek forward to become that much more awkward. She broke the silence after a few minutes. “I don’t think this is a good idea,” she said.

“Why? Sakura, you must know that I want more than a one night stand from you by now, right?” Chris said, looking at her with a slightly hurt appearance.

“I...I just don’t think it would be right. I mean, we hardly know each other anymore, and I don’t want to do something I’d regret later.” Sakura said, pulling her arm off of Chris and moving to stand on her own, stopping in the section between buildings, a light above them casting deep shadows from her lean frame.

“I don’t understand… did I do something wrong?” Chris asked, moving closer to Sakura, seeking her warm touch again.

Sakura’s hand drifted up to clutch the necklace dangling from her pale neck, sighing. “No, it wasn’t you who did something wrong. It was me. And now you’ll have to pay for it…”

Chris looked at her with uncertain eyes. “What do you mean?”

“I’m sorry Chris. Please try to forgive me,” Sakura said as she closed her eyes.

Chris was about to say something when he noticed the sudden drop in temperature, the silence that washed over him. No longer did the flickering light make the constant hum of a street lamp, nor the cars make noises as they drove by. All Chris could hear was his own breathing. Looking around, he saw a figure rise from the shadows behind him, drawn up slowly like a puppet on strings.

“What the…?” Chris uttered before hearing Sakura give a choked sob.

“I’m sorry Chris! I really am!” She cried, unshed tears welling at the sides of her eyes.

“What the hell is going on-urk!” Chris asked before being drug back into the alley by an invisible force. Scrabbling at the smooth expanse of cement, Chris cried out as his shoulder broke from the back.

After being dragged for about twenty feet, he was flipped over to see the man, no, the creature, of solid inky darkness peering down at him with an eyeless grin of silver teeth pulled back into a horrible smile. The glint of something metallic caught Chris’s attention, and when the being pulled a knife from its side Chris threw up his good arm, begging for mercy.

He didn’t receive any as the first plunge of the knife pierced through his arm, while the second pierced near his heart, silencing him as he began to bleed out at a rapid rate. Looking up, he could see Sakura timidly walking down the alley, her footsteps muted as she approached the silver-toothed creature. It stood tall above Chris’s prostrate form, adjusting its tie with two ebon hands while staring at Sakura with an eyeless gaze.

“I wasn’t so sure you’d find me again,” Sakura said, speaking softly to the creature. “But I guess you did. Well, is he sufficient?”

Chris could only gurgle as he stared at the blank expression on Sakura’s face. The creature seemed to regard her for a moment. “For now,” it said its voice watery and low. It reached into the lapels of its crusty black suit and pulled out a money clip holding a thick wad of hundred dollar bills. Sakura stepped forward and took the offered money before looking down at Chris. Her eyes were empty, devoid of the usual warmth she possessed.

“Sorry Chris, but a girl has to grow up sometime,” she said, sliding the rolled up money into her sequined clutch. “I told you I had a career. Well, this is it.”

The creature appeared in Chris’s line of vision, knife in hand once more. Sakura planted a kiss on two of her fingers before pressing them to Chris’s temple, before walking off to leave the creature to its own devices and Chris to his own panicked screams, muted by the unnatural silence that pervaded the alley.


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