From here we will be getting back into detective Kaori Inoue of the Chiba Police and a bit of yin, to balance all the heavy sturm und yang of the past few episodes.
Forgive me gentle readers the Arisugawa Park progress has been fairly slow, as album Fabric - Chasing Sun takes precedence. And just observing life, which has become interesting in the Philippines. There are tricky things in human nature oozing under the surface, just waiting for a release valve.
I sometimes wish I was a dodo, but then I'd be extinct.
Despite his exhaustion Steve was still very conscious of his bound position. His perspiration generated a pungent odor that permeated the cloth covering his eyes, the smell of fear magnified and distorted. He could picture microbes multiplying between layers of fabric––under the microscope it would be an explosion of bacteria feeding off trapped sweat, digesting long-chain fatty acids and excreting a sourness that registered somewhere between old man and gym locker. Unlike natural weaves, which tended to absorb odors, the synthetic material contained only microscopic spaces amid petroleum-derived impenetrability––providing bacteria cramped quarters in which to coalesce and form teeming colonies.
There was also the makeup of his sweat to consider, a pH reflecting what he had eaten the past two days and the composition of his biome. After two hours of intense thought, he decided that he’d eaten kalbi sauteed with green beans and rice, two bowls of miso ramen, a spaghetti sando from the convenience store, and a MOS burger. The result was unpleasantly acrid, yet not unwelcome––thinking on this microbial level prevented fear from seeping in.
Now there was a new smell to puzzle out. Thirty minutes ago he had been led from the car and guided down a short flight of metal stairs. Led to his current recumbent position, engulfed by a petroleum reek that masked a foul accumulation of rot and decay. After a minute his gag reflexes kicked in and he closed his nostrils, breathing through the mouth. Hungry and tired, he tried to stay anchored to the physical, not thinking about what was happening or why. Every so often his guard slipped and he remembered those last moments of sunlight and clarity, of believing that everything was right in the world.
At first the darkness held only cold sweat, sharp voices in a language he did not understand. The conversation subsided as the start-and-stop of city driving gave way to the unbroken hum of the freeway. After two hours, the car shifted gears and seemed to climb a steep grade. This continued for nearly an hour. At one point the car shifted with a jolt and decelerated, turning onto what seemed a rutted country lane. He listened carefully to the no-nonsense tone of his abductors’ voices as they opened the car door and let him out. Must be Korean––other than Japanese, it was the only Asian language he knew of without significant pitch and tonal variations. There was a slight breeze and the air was distinctly chilly––they were passing somewhere over Honshu’s long spine he thought, the Japan Alps.
Steve registered that they were speaking to him in broken English. “Toilet. Now.” His bound hands were cut achingly free, the sensation coming back to his wrists in faint pulses. He spent a moment drawing sensation back into his hands, unable to fulfill the imperative of an impatient bladder. Finally unzipping his fly with clumsy fingers, he let loose a long stream that pattered onto soft earth. When he was finished, hands tilted his head back and carefully trickled water into his mouth, followed by a small bite of onigiri––rice with tuna and mayonnaise––then another. Then a second ration of water. After he swallowed, his hands were expertly bound again, though not as tightly as before, and he was shoved back into the car. That had been three or four hours ago, maybe late afternoon, judging by the incremental darkening through the hood.
As Steve settled in he felt a barely noticeable movement beneath him, though he couldn’t be sure, a gentle rocking back and forth. He was on some sort of pier or…. the engine leapt into life, a fierce mechanical shriek jutting through his spine and forcing his teeth together––it all fell into place. Fifteen laborious paces from the car, the carefully guided steps down to a jetty, being lifted into the hard hull of a vessel. Assuming they had travelled by highway over the Japan Alps, they must be at the Sea of Japan. There were dozens of islands for criminals to hide out in…. Sado Island was the major one he knew of. What were they after––ransom, notoriety? As he thought again of the language his captors spoke, it struck him that they were only about 100 kilometers from the Korean Peninsula. An abrupt acceleration, a rising current of air driving away the petroleum reek as they bashed into open ocean.