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  • Writer's pictureMagicals' Alliance

Big Trouble in the Victoria Market

Updated: Jan 16



 

Li Tsang sighed, glancing at the white plastic clock over the stainless steel commercial refrigerator in the corner. 4AM. Her husband called it early morning but she considered the time late at night. He was an optimist, whereas she was becoming more of a pessimist as the grays in her hair continued to sprout and the fine lines around her eyes became more pronounced.

         “Ma,” her son, Jack, would say. “You have the busiest noodle soup stand in Victoria Market. You should be proud.”

         She grimaced. He didn’t have to get up early to shop for the vegetables, meat and fermented bean curd, start the broth, and make the noodles. Jack was in college majoring in finance. He’d graduate, become rich and support her and her husband someday.

         Then all the hard work would be worth it. If only her husband hadn’t had the accident, she might not have had to open the hawker stall in the food market. What choice did she have? She could cook. They needed the income. The government helped her set up her business in the newest food market in Hong Kong, close to the skyscrapers housing the large banking companies and their armies of workers. It was also near the harbor and the tourists looking for food after a long day of sightseeing.

         “I’m grateful,” she said chopping leeks and scallions. “I’m doing this for the future. I’m in charge. I’m the boss now.”

         A smile tugged on the corner of her mouth. A year ago, she wouldn’t have imagined her new life. Yes, the hours were long but she was in charge. No one told her what to do…

         One of the LED lights outside her stall flickered. She paused slicing the cabbage, noticing the quiet hush of the market outside.

         “That’s odd,” she mumbled. “It’s never this quiet this time of morning.”

         Usually the vast food hall buzzed with activity. Men pushed dollies loaded with boxes of meat, produce, fruit and bags of rice. Women wiped down the tables and chairs outside their stalls or arranged the fruit, produce or flowers on the market side of the arcade, sometimes gossiping in small groups or hollering at their employees to get back to work.

         Li set her cleaver down on the wood chopping block, wiped her hands on her apron and crossed the small, brightly lit kitchen to the door on the side of the stall leading outside.

         “Mr. Fang?” she called to the man famous for his clay pot rice dishes, “Are you there?”

         Li peered in the square window in the center of his stall. Raw scallops and geoduck sat on a cutting board next to a knife. Steam curled up from several pots on the stove.

         “Mr. Fang?” She peered over the counter. Her eyes grew big. She gasped. A scream escaped from her mouth. Her body tensed instinctively. She inched backward toward her stall, her heart in her throat. Her brain whirred. She couldn’t comprehend what she had seen. How Mr. Fang looked…She didn’t want to…She had to stop thinking. Get your purse and call the police. Get out of here. Now.

         She made her way back into the stall. Stock bubbled on the gas stove. The lights flickered. A whoosh sounded overhead. A blood-curdling scream filled the air. Far off, someone snickered. This was a dream, no, a nightmare. Where was her phone? She willed her hands to stop trembling as she reached for her knock-off Louis Vuitton purse.

         The lights went out. She screamed. Panic gripped her. Blue light from the flames of the gas stove lit up the stall. Heels clacked on the stone floor, moving ever quicker toward…no, not her. What had she done? Why did she….Mr. Fang…Oh, goodness, his head…She pushed the image out of her head.

         Something crashed on the roof above her. She looked instinctively at the ceiling. She reached for the cleaver on the cutting board. The ceiling shook. Her fingers slipped away from the cleaver. The ceiling began to break apart, bits of metal falling down around her. She backed away. She thought of Jack, her husband….This couldn’t be the end…

         “I need you to duck down to the floor and crawl over to the corner, ma’am,” a deep voice called to her calmly. She turned to her left. A purple light cut through the darkness. A long glowing weapon of some sort made entirely of plasma hummed, held in the hands of a tall, lanky man with a mop of black hair falling over his thick, black glasses.

         “My name is Austin. I’m here to help. You don’t need to be afraid, ma’am.”

         Li squeezed her eyes. This wasn’t a man, but a teenager. A boy almost.

         “I don’t understand. What’s happening?”




         “There are monsters, ma’am,” Austin explained. “They are evil and terrible, and now I need you to duck down, put your head down and cover your eyes. Can you do that for me?”

         Li opened to her mouth to respond when a shadow dropped from above, shrieking and wailing.

 

         “Duck now!” Austin shouted before lifting his PlasmX into the air and thrusting it toward the attacker. The purple staff connected with the shadow, disappearing into solid matter. Flames erupted. Smoke curled toward the ceiling. With a screech the monster turned to embers floating to the stone floor.

Austin gritted his teeth. His body was charged with energy.


A pack of vampires, Àzmadus, had infiltrated the Victoria Market after midnight and killed a security guard. A slimsu, a dwarf, heading to the secret food hall for Magicals next door had seen the carnage and called it in to the Anti-Coven League headquarters. Austin and his parents were summoned from their home nearby to assist. He was supposed to be snoozing away on the air mattress in his parent’s empty apartment, resting before the 13 hour flight to Los Angeles. A grin spread across his face when his parents woke him.

         “Waking me so I can do what’s instinctual to me, slay monsters?”

         “There’s an incident,” his mom told him.

         “Death and destruction?” he asked, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes.

         “Àzmadus have taken over the Victoria Market and killed at least 50 ordinaries.”

         “Wankers.”

         “Your father and I are going…you should stay and get some sleep.”

         Austin jumped off the mattress. “No, bleedin’ way. I’m coming with you!”

         “You need to rest.”

         “I want to kill monsters.”

         “You’ve done too much of that last year,” his mother, Cecilia said.

         “I’ve killed 982 monsters in Hanoi, Manila, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Macau, Jakarta, Yangoon and Bangkok.”

         “But who’s counting, eh, son?” his father, Austin Senior, said. “Listen to your mum.”

         “But Dad!”

         “You’re supposed to be going to school, playing sports and being a kid.”

         “Bollocks!” Austin complained. “I want to slay evil monsters and protect ordinaries.”

         “You have your whole life to do that.”

         “I have my whole life to have hobbies,” Austin said striding over to the closet, pulling out his uniform of black boots, trousers and black shirt. “Now, I need to save ordies.”

         “Austin!” Cecilia said.

         “Mum, this is my last night in Hong Kong. Please let me destroy a few monsters before we leave. Please?”

         Cecilia and Austin Senior exchanged glances.

         “Fine, okay,” Cecilia said. “But when we get to Burbank, you are going to stop killing monsters for a while and focus on your studies, yeah?”

         “Of course, Mother.”

         “Why don’t I believe you?”

         “I promise.”

         Austin had his fingers crossed behind his back...

 


 


Big Trouble in the Victoria Market continues in next month's issue...



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