Photo Finish by D.M. Slate
Location: A Japanese Night Club
*~*Judging panel has not altered/edited this text.*~*
*~*Text is posted as sent by the author.*~*
By D.M. Slate
Liza steps out of the cab, closing the door behind her. She shields her eyes from the sun, looking up at the sky scrapers that line both sides of the busy street. The over-cluttering of Japan’s rich, vibrant colored signs makes her smile.
Tossing her silky blonde locks over her shoulder, Liza straightens her shirt and heads for the front doors. Her photo shoot today is on the top floor – at the White Serpent night club. She enters the elevator, taking a deep breath as it begins to move. Today is Liza’s first time working with Chuu, the photographer, and her stomach jitters with nervousness. Being a petite blonde American has made modeling work easy to find in Japan, but learning the language has been a much harder task.
The elevator comes to a stop, and as the doors open Liza’s breathe catches in her throat. The White Serpent’s décor is stunning. Glowing chandeliers of red, blue and purple dangle from the ceiling, accenting the sleek white chairs, booths and couches that line the hard-wood floor. A massive sculpture of a white dragon slithers around the chandeliers from one corner of the night club to the other. To the south, a wall of windows provides a penthouse view of the bustling city below.
A man steps out from behind the bar and the movement catches her eye. She hadn’t seen him standing there, silently observing her. She smiles, raising a hand in a typical American greeting, before catching herself in mid-motion. Pulling the hand down, she gives a proper bow, instead.
Chuu approaches, speaking a mouthful of words that Liza can’t decipher. She’s taken aback by his appearance. Dressed in noting but black, his tall slender form seems to float across the floor toward her. His goth-like attire is complete with a sliver-link chain that hangs around his neck, and a head full of spikey black hair. When he comes to a stop next to her, Liza notices the eye liner that accentuates his almond shaped eyes.
Agitated with her lack of verbal response, he sneers at her. She rattles off the only greeting she knows in Japanese, which does little to win Chuu’s approval. He spins on the heel of his boot, walking away. Liza timidly scurries after him. The photographer retrieves an outfit off of the bar and hands it to her, pointing her in the direction of the women’s restroom.
Once inside the bathroom, Liza lets out a deep breath, trying to calm herself. Scoffing at the clothes, Liza shakes her head as she changes into the skimpy pleather outfit. A cross between animee design and sexy-school girl attire – the mid-drift top, short skirt and knee-high socks seem to be essential items in most of her Japanese shoots. And today, a pair of six-inch spiked heels completes the outlandish outfit.
Liza gives the shoes a trial run in the bathroom, terrified to trip and fall in front of Chuu. Satisfied that she’s stable enough on them, she stuffs her clothes down into her massive purse and slings the bag over her shoulder. Taking one last glance in the mirror, Liza digs down into the purse retrieving a bottle of hairspray. Giving her hair a final spritz, she drops the bottle back into her bag and exits the restroom.
The club has taken on a new life and her eyes sparkle with wonderment. Fog machines pump thick plumes of smoke out from the ceiling, filling the room in cloud of white. A fan blows lightly against a wall of various colored silks, and the materials dances in the breeze.
The lighting equipment for the photo shoot is set up next to the silk wall, so Liza saunters in that direction, looking around for Chuu.
She gasps in surprise when he steps out from behind a pillar wearing a red dragon mask. Covering his entire head, the large dragon-shaped mask seems unproportionate to his thin body, and Liza wonders how he’s able to bear its weight. Seemingly unaffected by the mask, Chuu points toward the couch by the silk wall. Liza approaches it, leaning lightly on the arm of the couch in one of her typical model poses. Chuu begins to snap photos, holding the camera up to the eye piece of the dragon mask. The lamps pop with a flash of light with each photo that is taken.
Ignoring the strangeness of the situation, Liza concentrates on posing for the photos. Feeling light-headed and dizzy, she leans her full weight onto the couch. The camera continues to click, and the lights continue to flash brightly before her eyes. The bulbs seem to stay illuminated longer now, and Liza finds herself staring at the lamps, drawn to them. Her mind is wandering, and before long, she forgets why she’s even at the nightclub. Looking down at clothing her mind spins in confusion.
With each inhale of the drugged fog, Liza slips further and further from consciousness. Chuu places the camera on a tripod, setting it on auto-click. He disappears into the cloud of smoke and the camera continues snap photos. By the time he returns, Liza has slumped to a seated position on the couch, staring blankly ahead in a drugged stupor.
Her eyes follow the movement of his large butterfly blades as he swings them from side to side. The twelve inch knives are curved – slender at the bottom, wide at the end – and he holds one in each hand. Fog dissipates and swirls around his crimson dragon mask as he slices the daggers through the air. Liza’s transfixed, unable to look away. With each swing of the blades her eyes hallucinate. Tracers following the curving arches of the knives transform into fluttering wings on the sides of this red dragon beast.
Liza’s brain never processes danger, until the first slice tears through her flesh. The razor-thin dagger bites into her pale white skin, gouging a deep cut into her thigh. Blood sprays through the air, and the butterfly blades continue to swing.
Scrambling away from the monster, screaming, Liza sprints toward the elevator. The spike of her heel tilts to the side, twisting her fragile ankle. She crumbles to the floor, crawling on her hands and knees, trying to escape. Another swing of the knife slices her lower back, sending her flailing to the floor. Liza’s hand snags the strap of her purse, and her fingers clamp down around it. She pulls the bag toward her, reaching for her phone.
The fatal slash of the blade penetrates the back of Liza’s neck, severing her spinal cord. Gasping for breath, her brain slowly begins to misfire.
Chuu reaches down grabbing Liza by her feet, pulling her body back across the floor. Reaching the couch, her rolls her onto her back, looking down into her dying eyes. Picking her slender body up with ease, Chuu places her on the couch, in a sitting position. Blood pours from the back of her neck, cascading over her shoulders and trickling down the front of her body.
The red dragon yanks the purse from Liza’s death-grip, not wanting it to tarnish his perfect photo shoot. The camera continues to snap on auto, click, click, click. Chuu marvels at the perfection of the scene he’s created.
He tosses Liza’s purse carelessly aside. The hairspray bottle rolls slowly out of the bag into the fog, but Chuu doesn’t notice. Brandishing a blade in each hand, he swings the butterfly knives again, triumphantly.
Side-stepping out of the camera’s frame, Chuu’s foot lands awkwardly on the hairspray bottle. Thrown off balance, his arms flail through the air as he trips, and falls. The razor-sharp blade pierces the soft flesh of his lower back, skewering his internal organs, before exiting his stomach.
Impaled on his own blade, Chuu struggles to breath. The mask falls from his head and his wide, dying eyes stare up into the fog. Blood trickles from the corner of his mouth with every laborious exhale.
All the while the camera continues to snap on auto, click, click, click to capture the glorious photo finish.
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Voting ends: July 28th, 2014