Hiroshi Yazuma, world-class sushi chef, did not resist when the Chao-ists kidnapped him. He was in the middle of dinnertime preparation--making the delicate cuts for a combination blowfish-stingray roll as a curious crowd of Tokyo diners watched him make the precision cuts between culinary life and death--when they arrived. Dressed in the shimmering colors of the Aurora Borealis, they pushed him out the door ensconced in their scurrying pack. The crowd screamed, some people fell, others fruitlessly pursued the pack.

Hiroshi had been following the news and, though no one mentioned it, he knew that he would be targeted. These devotees of chaos--self-proclaimed Chao-ists, rhyming with Maoists, as they stated in a densely worded treatise to various global media outlets--were gunning for anyone associated with order. Parliament members in Germany, Israel, and India; the President of a small Danish college; even a sheriff from a town outside Austin, Texas. Hiroshi, though not a politician, administrator, or law enforcement officer, was a practitioner of order. There were various blowfish preparers in Japan--a delicate skill, practiced only by elite chefs--but he was the only one daring enough to expand and try new, highly exotic--some potentially fatal--sea life. At great expense and mystery, he had found the edible parts of poisonous fish such as lionfish, stonefish, and rays, and confounded chefs worldwide.

He'd walked the tightrope between legality and criminality, life and death. His whole life was a work in order and balance. Now, one act beyond his control had ruined this. He had become a handcrafted stained glass window shattered into thousands of jagged pieces by a thrown rock.They kept him in a warehouse of rusting metal and dripping water. They left him tied to a chair and told him, as he consumed the sparse food and drink they served, that there were no demands, they didn't want anything, there was no plan. They asked him repeatedly how this made him feel. He remained quiet, didn't say that it was complete insanity that enraged his very soul. Inside, he held on to the last bastion of order he possessed. All else around him could shatter, but his soul would not.

One morning, without word, they untied him, blindfolded his eyes, and rushed him into a car. They returned to the city, let him out on a street corner and sped away. Before doing so, they told him, we reserve the right, at any time, to come claim you again, without warning or reason. Next time, we may dismember or kill you.

He stood on the corner for a second, his eyes in darkness, listening to the mix of cars, voices, and feet. He removed the blindfold and looked for the car, but it was lost in a blur of cars moving forward, turning, changing lanes.


After talking to the police, who seemed indifferent to his ordeal and capturing the Chao-ists, and resting at home for three days, Hiroshi returned to work. He was startled to realize he had been held hostage for six days. He felt like it had been less time. In his recuperating days, he considered this, as he struggled to sleep, while spending hours watching television--particularly the news to see if the Chao-ists had struck again--or reading, oblivious to the passing time. Two of the nights, when he did sleep, he had nightmares of his fingers being severed by a Bento knife, a glistening blade swathed in spectral colors.

The restaurant manager encouraged him to rest more but he refused. He also requested no fanfare be made by the staff upon his return.

So he returned, facing a bustling dinner crowd waiting eagerly for blowfish. He looked to the faces, then down at his tools and the fish, and wondered if he could do it. The control he cultivated--it was an illusion. At any moment, they could return.

He began making his cuts. After a few, he fell into a rhythm and was making his usual masterful slices. It was easy work, until light caught the glass of a moving door and a brief rainbow flashed in his eyes. He looked up, then tried to refocus on his cutting when he sliced his right thumb, something he had not done in a dozen years. Blood quickly rose to the skin, covering the cut line. He was done. He dropped the knife onto the table and, amidst hushed murmurs and darting eyes, he walked out of the restaurant, shattered, bleeding.

About the author:

Christian Bell is a writer living near Baltimore, Maryland. His fiction has appeared in SKiVE Magazine and is forthcoming in Prose Ax.