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FICTION on the WEB short stories by Charlie Fish

The Fortune Cookie's Prophecy
by Kevin Johl

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While slowing for a red light, Shashi glanced at the fortune cookie, still in wrapping, from the Chinese restaurant. He had put off eating it earlier, but now, not to his surprise, was hungry again. Maybe he hadn't wanted to read it in front of his friends. "What did Abra's say?" he thought to himself. "Something about uncovering a hidden fortune in your own garden. I knew he was on to something."

Shashi took any kind of unfounded prediction seriously. In this regard, you could say he was a believer in fate, or karma. And this was something too personal to reveal to friends or any acquaintance. He'd rather no one else hear what was in store for him, at least until he'd been able to give it sufficient thought.

He popped the wrapping open at one end, as he always did to open these cookies, or anything whose wrapping allowed such a convenient way for opening. With both hands, he separated the cookie, and removed the thin strip on which his future lay, foreseen. As he read the phrase he became plagued with anxiety.

"Your enemy will strike in an unpredictable fashion." He contemplated the implication of these frightening words. "My enemy will strike. In an unpredictable fashion." He glanced at the fortune to verify. "No one can strike without me knowing," he reassured himself. A horn from behind prompted him to acknowledge the now green light before him. He put his foot on the gas, but drove at a slower speed, to prolong the drive and his time for analyzing the disturbing fortune. The cookie had said it. And it had to be right. Shashi turned to deductive reasoning, to further verify the certainty of the statement. The major implication was that he had an enemy.

An enemy out to get him. After pondering that for a moment, it became all too clear and he could not deny it. There was a gentleman named Santosh. A developer, and father to former suitor of his daughter. Santosh seemed more interested in a business arrangement than an engagement. One involving the property of Shashi's dealership, an ideal location for one of his numerous ambitious projects. Shashi wasn't ever seriously considering selling his business. At least not until he retired in a few years. But if it meant getting his daughter married into a decent family, he was willing to string the deal along, until the desired time. However, this was not to be. As the couple quickly proved to be incompatible, the potential property deal turned sour. Though by no means a loss to Shashi, his former potential in-law refused to accept the deal going out the window with the marriage.

He called constantly, trying to set-up a meeting. He stopped by several times, with Shashi only narrowly avoiding the encounter. When it reached the point where he was terrified to go to work, for fear of running into Santosh, he decided to clear the air of any notion that there was a possible deal. This did not go over well with Santosh, however, him even going so far as to assure Shashi that, one way or another, the property would be his. And this statement, and this statement alone, served as the indicator to Shashi that he was dealing not with a merely bitter individual, but an enemy. Perhaps the statement itself lacked the menace of its delivery, or the gaze of dangerous determination in Santosh's eyes, before he walked off the property of the used motor dealership. It was a walk that managed to convey an only temporary departure, one promising return.

"Bloody Hell," Shashi exclaimed. He had missed the turn he would have to have taken in order to drop off the library books as his wife instructed him. "They can wait another day." The library was still open; he was, however , close to home, and turning back was out of the question. "That bloody fortune cookie's got me distracted." The distraction quickly faded, as he turned on to his street and noticed a police cruiser on his driveway.

"A copper," he said to himself. "What would they be doing here?" There seemed to be no obvious answer to this troubling question. And so when Shashi got out of the car, as he neared the front door, his heart began racing. Without even inserting his house key, he tried the door, and sure enough it opened. He shut the door and called out, "Is everything all right? I saw the police cruiser outside".

A male officer's voice replied, from the kitchen, "Sir, do you live here?"

"Of course I live here, what are you doing here?" Shashi responded, heading to the kitchen.

"I'd advise you to remain where you are, sir, there's a crimes scene in here."

But it was too late. Shashi had reached the kitchen. His eyes had dropped to the floor; to the spot where his wife's body was lying. It was a terrible sight. Her face was disfigured on one side. There was blood streaming from the nose, and a bloody pinkish fluid splattered across the tiles. But most terrible of all were the broken up pieces of internal tissue, surrounding her head. "Oh my God," Shashi uttered.

"Is she your wife sir?" the police officer asked, with as much sympathy as possible.

"Yes. Who did this, what happened?" Shashi raised his eyes, to the level of the teapot still heating on the stove.

"Hopefully we'll find out. Can I get the name of the victim, as well as your own, sir?

"Asha Musharu. And I'm Shashi Musharu. There are those things around her, what is all that," Shashi inquired, referring to the matter on the tiles.

"I doubt very much sir that you want to hear this, and I'm only speculating, but it appears to be segments of brain tissue. You see there," said the officer, gesturing with his head to a drill on the ground beside the body. "The killer used that power tool, and apparently entered a nostril and drilled out the brain."

Shashi's face bore a look of disgust. "How could anyone do that? It's sickening, I feel like being sick."

"I'm sorry that you had to see this, we generally only show bodies for identification purposes. Can you wait in another room for a few minutes, until I finish up in here? I have some preliminary tasks to take care of."

Shashi nodded, and walked out the kitchen. At first he headed towards the bathroom, but before entering realized he had a stronger stomach than he thought, and so turned into the living room. He sat on the leather couch, and buried his face in his hands. Shashi couldn't make sense out of the scene he had witnessed, and thus no thoughts came into his mind even attempting to do so. His normally analytical thought pattern had become irregular with the shock and accompanying adrenaline.

After a few minutes of restlessly alternating between sitting upright and with his head down, shaking in disbelief, he remembered his daughter.

"Thank God Vicki's not home. She mustn't see this." He got up, and headed back to the kitchen, bracing himself for the grotesque site he'd be forced to yet again bear. However, before he entered, a fragment of his analytical prowess returned, and he became curious. "Why aren't there any other officers here?" he asked, entering the kitchen. The officer was knelt down over the destructive tool, appearing to be wiping blood from it. He remained silent, and rose, dropping the drill onto the floor. As he turned around, Shashi saw on his hands a pair of black leather gloves. And the eyes on the officer's pale face met his with a cold blooded stare.

Immediately Shashi turned and began running for the door. Before he could complete even half of the journey, there was a sudden jolt of voltage entering his body from a taser. His legs gave way, and he fell helplessly onto the floor, his body twitching violently. He had enough control to roll on his back, just in time to see the officer coming towards him, gripping a black handled knife in his right hand. Before he could attempt to stand, the officer was over him, and thrust the blade into his solar plexus; once, then twice, three times, four, five, six, and seven. And then he lost count.

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