Serial Saturday #7: Beginnings
This marks the switchover from Theme Thursdays to the more serialized focus of Serial Saturdays- in keeping with the theme, I take the reader back to the night of the murder-- please enjoy: Beginnings.
The woman who called herself Jiezhi opened her eyes.
The ground beneath her was cold, wet and soft. What was that? Sand. Beach. She was on a beach. But, her stomach:
"Ow," she groaned. She tried to move, but the pain intensified and so did the warmth. Wet warmth. What was it? She patted her torso a few times and then felt the handle of the knife that was- she recoiled in horror- sticking out of her belly. She patted some more and then held her hand up. The light on the beach was dim to non-existant, but: "Yeah, that's blood." The bastards had stabbed her.
How long had she been here?
It's too complicated. Shan's voice. Yesterday afternoon. She drew the memory around her. Before she had left. They had met at the foot of the Koxinga Statue at the south end of Gulangyu.
"You're right," Jiezhi replied. "I could swim."
Shan snorted in amusement. It's only what, nine miles from here? Hope the Water Police don't get you.
"Better go ahead with my original plan then."
Shan slammed her palms down onto the railings of the overlook. If you really want to get out safely, there are easier ways to do it.
"How? Hong Kong is out. Now that my father has been summoned to Beijing, I won't get permission to leave the country. This is the only way."
The warmth was spreading quickly now and her legs were- she triend to move them and- "Good, they still work." Now where was the phone? She shifted her hips slightly, to get herself access to her pockets.
She had first seen the sidelong glances as they slipped by Tuyu Islet heading northeast toward Weitou Bay, to round the tip of Kinmen and head for the fishing grounds further out in the Taiwan Straight. At first she chalked it up to sailors and their superstitions about having women on board ships, but then the whispers began.
So there, with the lights of Xiamen glittering off the water, she had taken her phone out and initiated Phase One. It was done. She was safe, no matter what happened.
On the beach now, angry voices. She had edged away from them, looking for an opportunity to run, but-
Do you know who she is, Detective? Do you realize what you've done?
Don't threaten me. She's seen your face. You know what-
She had started running then, terror lending her speed she didn't know she had, but in the end, she hadn't been fast enough. Arms grabbed her, held her, spun her around and then the Detective approached. A knife and-
What was that music? It was getting louder and so familiar and then she realized what the music was: the opening to Rhapsody In Blue. She groaned. Would it haunt her even now? As she bled to death on a beach in Kinmen?
That voice. It was getting harder to think now.
Play it again.
"I don't want to, Grandma."
The gentle hand on her shoulder. The smell of her perfume. The warm breeze off the bay blowing into the open windows of her Grandmother's villa on Gulangyu.
You'll never get it right if you don't keep trying, child.
She snapped back into the present. There was something she needed to do. One last thing. What was it?
The music was getting louder and she could almost feel the keys underneath her fingers. She was doing so well. She was playing she had never played before in her life. Every note was perfect. She could feel what was coming next she could-
The phone. She had to... with an effort she pulled it out of her pocket and grabbed it tightly in her hand. With every last bit of strength she could muster, she pushed herself upward and threw the phone out into the water. She flopped onto her belly, the knife driving like fire up unto her, the music built to a crescendo and now-
She felt the keys under her fingers. The orchestra around her was keeping pace perfectly. She hadn't missed a note. She was almost done, almost there and-
The apploause was deafening. She had done it. She rose to take her bow and then turned to see her grandmother approaching from off state. She eagerly embraced her, wondering how she felt so real and so alive. "Did I get it right, Grandma?"
"Yes, child," she replied. "You were perfect."