Contest #109 shortlist ⭐️

A Thousand Years in Tokyo

Submitted into Contest #109 in response to: Set your story during the night shift.... view prompt

52 comments

East Asian Thriller Crime

Anyone who wins the lottery on their first ticket should be considered a time traveler. A win on their second ticket as well and they're giving themselves away.

Takeshi yawned. The car radio read 2:45 a.m. He drank the last of his coffee, cold and bitter, then clicked on the overhead lights. In a couple of minutes, a woman by the name of Naoko Asari would walk out of the gas station with two winning lottery tickets. She’d cash them in before returning to her time.

He would arrest her before she could.

Takeshi checked his service pistol. He reloaded the clip and switched off the safety. If he couldn’t catch her, she’d bring over a billion yen into the future. Inflate Tokyo’s economy. She would win a one in ten million chance, twice, days before the winning numbers would be announced.

2:56 a.m. A motorcycle pulled up across from him. Glowing lights circled the wheels. The rider killed the engine, dismounted, then shook her hair free of her helmet. Takeshi leaned forward, fingers tapping against his pistol—he’d need to wait for her to purchase the tickets first. Proof of time traveling with intent of theft.

She entered the gas station. A second motorcycle raced by on the road beside him, the same make and model as the one that pulled in a minute ago. A car followed right behind it. Tinted windows, deep black paint. Same as his, and he muttered the word, shit. Police sirens echoed in the night. Cruisers with flashing red lights struggled to keep up.

He kept his keys in the ignition and stepped out. 3:04 a.m.

Takeshi raised his handgun to eye level, the gas station clerk watching from the window panels and ducking behind the counter. The woman stepped out. Two tickets in her hand, helmet under her arm.

Freeze, Takeshi said.

She broke into a run. He fired the pistol—no luck. The bullet ricocheted off the ground, sending chips of rock into the air, while Naoko threw on her helmet and revved her motorcycle.

A second and third shot rang out, both denting and scraping paint off the bike. Takeshi twisted, turned, and ran to his car. He threw the gun to the passenger seat. He tightened his hands against the wheel, then brought his foot down on the gas pedal.

The car spun as he pulled out of the station, wheels trailing smoke. The motorcycle dashed ahead. 3:06 a.m. Takeshi gritted his teeth, leaned in, and sped down the streets of Tokyo. Neon light from billboards washed over his windshield. Night owls and drunks tripped on the sidewalks as he raced past. 

Naoko swerved her motorcycle to a freeway exit, turning, leaning close enough to the ground for her boots to skid against the asphalt. Takeshi kept close behind, streetlights a blur overhead. Cars blared their horns as he passed. 

She slowed her bike as they raced into a road tunnel. Before Takeshi could reach for his gun, she disappeared in a crystal blue flash, leaving nothing but a trail of blue flames behind. 

His tires screeched against asphalt. The speedometer dropped as he hit the brakes. Takeshi slammed his hand against the glove box, popping it open, and grabbed his time radar. He aimed it at the flickering blue flames. It processed the fire, then wrote out the numbers 2061, reading the time jump from the residue left behind.

He hit the confirm button below the numbers. In a flash, he warped forty-one years into the future. Naoko stood ahead. She leaned against her motorcycle, shocked to see that he followed.

Got you, he said.

He fired his handgun through his windshield. The bullet struck her shoulder; she lurched forward, then fell on her motorcycle. Takeshi fired again. He missed. The gun clicked on the third shot. Empty. The woman mounted her bike and took off.

Takeshi raced behind, through the underground, and out to a Tokyo people of his time wouldn't see for ages to come. High skyscrapers outfitted with solar panels. Neon-lit holograms floating in the air replaced billboards.

Naoko jumped through time again, leaving blue flames behind, and Takeshi raised his time radar. 2497. He confirmed it and followed her right through.

Rain pelted his car. He sped down a road of cracked asphalt, swerving to avoid trees growing in the middle of the streets. Vines and weeds covered the surrounding buildings. He sped past a flickering neon hologram, hanging on to a thread of solar power. It read: エウロパへの次の便に乗ろう! 木星の衛星: 日本の新しいふるさと! Be on the next flight to Europa! Jupiter’s moon, Japan’s new home.

The motorcycle excelled at driving over the tree roots spread out across the roads. Takeshi kept close behind, time radar in hand, ready for another jump. He would not lose her.

An alarm sound pierced the night. A four-legged war machine crawled out from a parking lot and onto the road. Its spider-like limbs broke into the earth. Takeshi twisted the steering wheel, drifting beneath the machine’s hull, aiming the radar at the wave of blue flames disappearing in the rain ahead. 

1753.

He kept right behind her, racing down stone roads, past wooden homes with curved roofs. Naoko rode through a group of swordsmen atop horses, and Takeshi blared his car’s horn. They rushed to the side—one samurai falling from his horse in the commotion. She jumped again, and Takeshi followed.

2020.

Back to the streets he grew up on. The car radio read 2:57 a.m as they looped past the gas station. Takeshi flicked his eyes to the side, his past self waiting in the parking lot. Police sirens sounded behind. Naoko looked back, then disappeared in the wake of blue flames.

1186.

He followed.

The asphalt and concrete beneath him vanished, and buildings became forestry. Starlight replaced streetlamps. His wheels ground against a dirt path, ripping up grass and leaving tire tracks that would bewilder travelers for decades.

Sun-colored leaves stuck to his windshield. He turned a corner, gaining speed, tires kicking up dust. The motion knocked the straw hat off a traveler who walked nearby. The car rumbled as he drove over a stone path, where he hit the brakes. The set of Torii gates ahead would be too narrow for him to pass through.

It’d be bad luck to knock one over. 

Naoko, leaning over her bike’s handles, weak from the gunshot wound, crashed into the Torii gate. The wooden pillars toppled over. She fell from her bike, landing and rolling through a field of tall grass on the side. A small Hokkaido fox passed by. It froze to watch her before continuing on.

Takeshi exhaled. He stepped out of his car and slammed the door. A pair of cuffs clinked together in his hands as he pushed through the waist-high grass. He cuffed and read the woman her rights, then patted her down.

How’d you jump? he asked. He couldn’t find a device on her.

The bike, she replied.

They traveled back to the present, hours before the chase began. 1:12 a.m. He brought her in, booked her, and locked her in a cell until further processing. Takeshi called a team to recover the motorcycle, then sat down to write the case report. 

Time travel with intent of theft.

Another one falling for the bait of the lottery. 

September 02, 2021 16:58

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

52 comments

19:40 Sep 02, 2021

I really, really like this. It might be my favourite one of your stories so far. The opening and closing lines are strong. I like the idea of a time travelling cop setting people up to tempt them in to crimes. I wondered if it might have a little more bite if he got rewarded for every one he caught? You have a lot of word count left to play with so you could afford to add some description of the characters - hair colour, height, what are they wearing? You could also add in some additional scenery descriptions, what kind of car is Takeshi...

Reply

Alex Sultan
21:52 Sep 02, 2021

Thank you! I really like this story too! I've wanted to write a good car chase forever, and I finally got around to it. I like the changes you mentioned, and I'm going to consider all of them when I edit it over tomorrow(I'm debating the speech marks instead of italics, I want to get the idea across that they're speaking Japanese and not English - I saw this style used in a book once and I'm replicating it) The colour of the fox is a good catch. Your suggestion for it is perfect. Thank you for taking the time - I'm going to edit it over th...

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
K. Antonio
15:42 Sep 10, 2021

THIS WAS THRILLING! Also congrats on the first shortlist! I've seen you come close so many times, that I'm super excited that this story got it! I love how this story is a blend of sci-fi and action with an Asian environment. It's super creative and from the first line you already get a sense of mystery and a hella lot of pinash! I loved it!

Reply

Alex Sultan
22:46 Sep 10, 2021

Thank you! Japan was very fun to research and write about. I'm glad this one made the shortlist, it feels like quite the accomplishment. I'm excited to try and make it again with the next one :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Tommie Michele
08:18 Oct 11, 2021

Those opening sentences are incredible--you had my attention from the start. Your closing line is really strong, too; maybe I'm reading into it too much, but 'falling for the bait of the lottery' is all too applicable in many areas in real life, not to mention the nice finality and closing touch it adds. I don't think I'll ever say it enough times: your fight scenes/chase scenes/anything high-adrenaline and action-y scenes are incredible. Well-paced, just enough description without bogging it down, and they always flow naturally. Nice work...

Reply

Alex Sultan
16:10 Oct 11, 2021

Thank you! I'm glad you liked this one, I had a lot of fun writing it, as well as researching Japan, and getting the sentence structure to read fluidly. And you're right, I feel most at home writing thrillers and action scenes. Definitely my favourite, go-to genre.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply

Great story! It was gripping and exciting. I loved the concept of time travel almost being an everyday thing. Congrats!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Shelley Seely
00:50 Sep 14, 2021

Fun read! Nice pacing. And what a unique idea.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Keya Jadav
05:19 Sep 11, 2021

Wohoo Alex! Finally! Congratulations on the first shortlist! This is sooo amazing (nothing new), I knew you could do this, your stories have always inspired me and I am so happy, it has finally been recognised. :) Loved the fast pace and whipping actions! Your efforts clearly get highlighted. Brilliant Job!!

Reply

Alex Sultan
18:41 Sep 11, 2021

Pacing this story was a lot of fun - I tried to match every sentence to it. I'm glad you enjoyed and I appreciate the comment. Getting shortlisted is pretty cool, and I'm looking forward to making it again.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
00:12 Sep 11, 2021

Whoo hoo! Shortlisted!!!! Congratulations 🎉

Reply

Alex Sultan
04:29 Sep 11, 2021

I'm glad I made it 🥳

Reply

21:13 Sep 14, 2021

Hi Alex, I've posted a first attempt at this week's story if you fancy taking a look? I'm really not sure if it's any good. It's a first draft and I have plenty of words left to play with. I may not enter it as I'm not convinced by it so far. Any feedback appreciated. Let me know if you are posting this week.

Reply

Alex Sultan
22:24 Sep 14, 2021

For sure, I'd be happy to check it out and leave feedback when I get the chance. The story I'm writing for this week should be out by Thursday - I'm trying something new with it and your feedback would be nice.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Lisa Lacey
20:42 Sep 10, 2021

The action sequence was so well written! It was easy to follow, kept me on the edge of my seat, and the detailed descriptions made it so I could picture it in my head like a movie. Congratulations on being shortlisted!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Amanda Lieser
18:22 Sep 10, 2021

Oh wow, Alex! This piece was absolutely brilliant! I highly admire how you wrote about time traveling. I think it’s a particularly difficult skill to master. I also love how you made this a cop story. It was such a great spin on the prompt. Thank you for writing this story and congratulations on getting shortlisted!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Shea West
16:23 Sep 10, 2021

This was so fast paced and action driven, I loved every second of it. While reading it, I felt like this could easily be a synopsis for a movie. One I'd watch! I especially appreciate how you added in the East Asian elements, and did it so well. Congratulations on the shortlist, it looks like from what others are saying it's long overdue!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Elle S
13:57 Sep 10, 2021

This story had me from the first sentence. I absolutely love your vibe. You are incredibly creative and your ideas are very much outside of the box. My latest story is, as a matter of fact, dominantly inspired by your work. Funnily enough (and coincidentally, too) the protagonist's abbreviated name is identical to yours( : OR, perhaps it isn't so much a coincidence as it probably was a subconscious decision sprouted from the fact that you were the inspiration source?) Anyway, if you wish, you may check it out. Feeling strange and insecure ...

Reply

Alex Sultan
22:44 Sep 10, 2021

If I inspired you in any way or form, I'm honored to have done so. I'll definitely check out your story when I get the chance and leave my feedback on it. I'm glad you enjoyed this one, I plan to write more thrillers like it when the right prompts come up. :)

Reply

Elle S
19:28 Sep 11, 2021

If you have a pointer or an opinion or a critique or anything that perhaps stood out to you that you liked, please feel free to drop it my comment? Only if you don't mind, of course. Either way, thank you for taking the time to read it. Your ideas stand out and this intrigues me. If I may ask, what is your source of inspiration? What drives you and how do you personally relate to your stories? I'm also curious as to what triggered you to get out of your comfort zone regarding the story "Snowfall?" Also, I'll bet you can create a thriller...

Reply

Alex Sultan
19:50 Sep 11, 2021

For sure, I've updated my comment on your story with more critique. For this story specifically, I can't really pinpoint my inspiration. Honestly, I just watch a lot of time travel movies and thought this would be cool. I also wanted to write something about Japan, since I didn't know much about their culture. I've written another like this called [redacted] on my profile, and wanted to see if I could do it better, as well. Snowfall is heavily inspired by my favorite movie, '5cm Per Second', and I wanted to pay tribute to it. That's the ...

Reply

Elle S
03:48 Sep 12, 2021

It makes complete sense. I suppose for me, I'm in a space where I write and submit as an end in itself, at least for the moment. I will take a look at that movie, out of interest's sake. Funnily enough, it is that story which drew me in because I was looking specifically for something in that genre, which is MY comfort zone, and stumbled upon it. I like the growth mindset. Keep at it. ( :

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Sophie Smith
09:39 Sep 09, 2021

I really loved the concept of time travel and people going back in time to win the lottery, it must happen a lot for it to be a crime. The descriptions of the different time periods were so good that I could imagine that I was there. :)

Reply

Alex Sultan
20:14 Sep 09, 2021

Thank you, Sophie. I didn't know much of Japan's culture and history beforehand and researching it was really fun. I'm glad you enjoyed the story.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Lorraine Evanoff
01:17 Sep 09, 2021

Whoa. It's hard to write action well, and even harder through time. Well done!

Reply

Alex Sultan
05:37 Sep 09, 2021

Thank you. I had a lot of fun matching each sentence to the pacing, keeping it fast. I'm glad you liked it.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
T He O Th Eo
18:06 Sep 08, 2021

I was researching about the triller genre and I fell on this. It is a great story. I pictured everything in my mind like scenes from a hollywoodian sci-fi movie.

Reply

Alex Sultan
05:21 Sep 09, 2021

I'm really glad you liked it. I found it easy to picture this story as I was writing it, and I think it's cool you felt the same while reading.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
A B
14:34 Sep 08, 2021

Really cool! Loved the time traveling cop and the jumping from past to future. Really 👍 great job!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Bruce Friedman
00:47 Sep 08, 2021

Terrific sorry and pacing, Alex. All I could think of near the beginning was what a poor marksman Takeshi was. Could hardly hit anything,

Reply

Alex Sultan
05:33 Sep 09, 2021

Thank you. This is my favorite concept I've come up with, and Japan's history suited it perfectly. I may have fallen a bit into the action movie cliche of bullets always missing tho.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Annalisa D.
14:30 Sep 07, 2021

I really liked the last line and the premise. It does seem that people often think of using time travel to win the lottery, so it's cool to see this story have a plan in place for that. I think it was very well written and fast paced.

Reply

Alex Sultan
05:44 Sep 09, 2021

Matching each sentence to the pacing, along with researching Japan's history, were the highlights for me. I'm glad you liked it.

Reply

Annalisa D.
13:45 Sep 09, 2021

It's always fun when you can research and learn new things. That's awesome to try out different techniques like that too.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
L Mack
20:20 Sep 05, 2021

This was a good, fun story. For some reason I kind of wanted the woman to get away with it ;)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Tricia Shulist
15:25 Sep 04, 2021

Great story. I like the pacing which reflects the quick pace of the story. The whole concept is fun, and the perfect topic for a short story. Thanks for this.

Reply

Alex Sultan
02:31 Sep 07, 2021

Thank you! I had a lot of fun writing this and making sure each sentence matched the fast pacing. I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Robin Owens
12:38 Sep 04, 2021

This was exciting! I really felt like I was traveling with them.

Reply

Show 0 replies