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"Big Trouble in the Victoria Market by Timoteo Tong" Conclusion





Li trembled on the floor near the sink, crying softly.

            “Everything will be okay, ma’am,” Austin said. “I’m here to help. You don’t need to worry. I will rid this place of the vermin, and in fifteen minutes, I will help you get into a rideshare to get you home to your family.”

            Li opened her eyes and looked at the ridiculously tall young man before her. Was he 6’2’’? No, 6’3’’?

            “Now, I need to go and hunt down a dozen life-force drainers, so please stay very quiet and don’t move until you hear me call you. Can you do that?”

            Li nodded, tears streaming down her face.

            “You’re going to be okay,” Austin said before effortlessly launching his slender body into the air. Li heard shouting in a foreign language, the hum of the plasma weapon and short explosions followed by the acrid smell of smoke. An object flew overhead. She huddled closer to the ground as fangs snapped dangerously close to her ears.

            Fists connected with flesh. A body flew through the air. She heard cursing in a foreign language. The battle raged over her head for what seemed like an eternity. A flaming arm fell to the floor beside her, then collapsed into embers. Li covered her eyes and rocked back and forth, trying to ignore the battle overhead. Eventually, the war came to an end. An eerie calm came over the market. Voices called to each other in the foreign language, then in Cantonese.

            “You clear on your side, Mum?”

            “Affirmative, Son. What about you, Honey?”

            “Yes, two dozen monsters wiped off the earth over here,” a man replied.

            “Dammit, Dad,” the boy complained. “You killed more than me! I only slayed 21.”

            “I’m older and more skilled.”

            “That’s bollocks, Dad.”

            “Austin, watch your language.”




            Li opened her eyes. The lights were on in the stall. She noticed the center of the ceiling was ripped off above her head. The broth continued to boil on the stove. Ashes covered the floor like fine snow.

            Li stood up cautiously. She stepped outside. A body sat up in a chair, missing its head. She gasped.

            “Now, what did I tell you, ma’am,” the boy said, floating down from above and landing softly next to her. “You were to wait for me.”

            “Are those…Did those monsters…Did they?”

            “They did,” Austin responded. “But you can’t remember any of this.”

            “What do you mean?”

            “Ordinaries can’t know monsters exist. It would throw off the entire balance of the universe. You’d freak out. You’d lose faith in your government. There’d be fear and violence, and institutions would fail. Panic would grip you.”

            “I am panicked. Mr. Fang’s head was ripped off!”

            “He had an accident. He slipped and fell.”

            “He was decapitated.”

            “You’re going to look at my ring. And when it flashes, you won’t remember any of this. You’ll feel ill and walk with me outside to get a ride home. You’ll consider me a nice young man just helping you out. XAQ9 will come in, clean and fix up the market, and you’ll return in a few hours to serve bowls of soup and noodles like nothing ever happened.”

            “XAQ.what?”

            “Never mind.”

            “But I saw what happened!”

            “Look at my ring,” Austin commanded, holding a plain silver signet ring. A pink light flashed before Li’s eyes.

            She blinked several times.

            “I think I’m going to be sick,” she said, “Who are you?”

            “I’m with the cleaning crew. I heard you throw up and thought I’d help you.”

            “Oh, that’s so kind of you,” she said, “but I don’t feel sick.”

            “Let me help you get a ride home.”

            “But my soup.”

            “We’ll take care of it.”

            “You will?”

            “Of course,” Austin said reassuringly. “Everything will be okay. Now, let’s get you out of here. You can go home and rest for a bit. Then come back in a few hours when you feel better.”

            “Yes, that’s a great idea.”

            “Of course, it is…” Austin said, offering his arm to Li, who gripped it tightly.

 

*

 

            Austin leaped in the air, kicking his heels together as he and his parents walked through the quiet streets toward home as the sun began to rise over Victoria Harbor.

            “That was amazing!”

            “Son,” Austin Senior said. “Your form was a little off.”

            Austin floated back to the pavement. “No way!”

            “Yes, you almost lost your head!”

            “I did not,” Austin said. “Well, maybe, but…I mean, come on, Dad.”

            “You took too much pleasure in killing the monsters, and I think you broke at least three rules from the Pàcifimenta. You have to follow the rules and procedures exactly, Son.”

            “Rules are meant to be broken.”

            “If we don’t follow the rules, why should monsters?”

            “Those soddin’ bastards broke the rules by infiltrating the market and hunting down ordinaries!”

            “Still, we’re supposed to be an example. We follow the rules.”

            Austin moped. He had enjoyed killing monsters in Hong Kong last night, and his parents killed the vibe.

            Austin Senior glanced at his wife.

            “Overall, you did well, Son. Exceptional, yeah?”

            Austin brightened. “You think so?”

            “Sure, Son.” Austin Senior shot his wife a look. She relented.

            “Yes, June Bug, you were brilliant.”

            “Ah, don’t call me that name, Mum. You know I hate it.”

            “But you’re my little June Bug, darling.”

            “Don’t call me darling, Mum. It’s embarrassing.”

            “What, you don’t want your mother smothering you affectionately?”

            “No,” Austin complained. “Not in public, at least.”

            “Deal,” Cecilia said. “Anyway, I got some congee from the market. How about a little brekkie before we head to the airport?”

            “I love congee!” Austin shouted. “Give me all the porridge, Mum!”

           The three laughed as they approached the lobby of the high-rise they called home for only a few more hours. A few hours in the sky, across the Pacific and the International Date Line, they’d arrive in Southern California and begin a new life. Austin would pretend to be an average high schooler, as they were called in the States, but they all knew he’d still hunt down any monster that dared try to harm Ordinaries. It was who he was.

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