Contest #109 shortlist ⭐️

A Thousand Years in Tokyo

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

56 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

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56 comments

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.

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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 :)

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Robin Owens
12:38 Sep 04, 2021

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

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21:43 Sep 03, 2021

I just read this again. I like the changes you made. I don't think the woman had a name before?? I like that she has one now. Good luck in the contest. I've entered "Fired!" for it.

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Alex Sultan
21:51 Sep 03, 2021

Thank you. I thought a name would bring a bit more life to her. I still plan to make a few changes - I'm thinking of adding another jump, some details for Takeshi's car, and a couple other things you mentioned in your comment. Best of luck. Here's to hoping we both get runner-up.

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22:18 Sep 03, 2021

I just asked my friend to read it. She notes to check the exchange rate of yen to Canadian dollars. I had a quick look. A million yen is not very much. I have no idea what the Japanese lottery prize is but might be worth a check? To make the theft have economic impact is it worth making her a serial offender? Or upping the prize money? Just a thought. Presumably in the distant future the money is not worth as much either? Sorry to throw this in so late in the day!!!

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22:19 Sep 03, 2021

She also said she really likes it. Thought it had a Blade Runner feel :-)

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Alex Sultan
22:25 Sep 03, 2021

Really good catch! I looked into it, and the Japanese lottery can cap out at a billion yen. I'll change it to that - it sounds much better, and the stakes are higher. The serial offender is a good idea too. Thank you. I have high hopes for the final draft :)

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Rachel Smith
07:05 Sep 03, 2021

Hey Alex! Loved the concept! I do enjoy a good time travel story and this didn't disappoint. I thought your action sequences were well written too. Can't think of any critique to add on what's already been pointed out in the other comments. Good luck! 🤞

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Alex Sultan
21:58 Sep 03, 2021

Thank you for the kind words. I really like pacing in this story, and I hope it does well this week.

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Rachel Smith
19:50 Sep 10, 2021

🎊🎊🎊Congrats on the shortlist! Well deserved 👏

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Manan Suraiya
05:36 Sep 03, 2021

I absolutely love the idea and the execution! The Japanese references were the icing on the cake for me :) There are some points you can incorporate. First is scene setting. You've done well considering the word count, but details will make the story come alive. Second, make the audience get attached to Takeshi. As someone mentioned, you have some words left in the count, so why not focus on creating a bond between the readers and Takeshi? (P.S: Would you like to be a critique partner on email? I feel we can learn a lot from each other an...

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Alex Sultan
21:54 Sep 03, 2021

Thank you. I didn't know much about Japanese culture before I wrote this, and I had fun researching it. For critique, I'm happy to exchange comments on stories, but as of right now I don't feel like emailing. Thank you tho!

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Manan Suraiya
02:22 Sep 04, 2021

No worries! Happy writing :)

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20:58 Sep 02, 2021

Fantastic! I always think you have a real gift for first lines! They always draw me in! You manage to end it with a punch too. Brilliant! :)

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Alex Sultan
21:54 Sep 02, 2021

Thank you. Opening and ending lines are two of my favorite parts of writing a story.

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19:02 Sep 02, 2021

Hi Alex - here goes: A win on their (your) second ticket as well and you’re giving yourself away. - Their / your inconsistent, suggest changing out "their". Takeshi checked his service pistol, reloading the clip, switching off the safety. - sounds like a list. Maybe try: Takeshi checked his service pistol and reloaded the clip before switching off the safety. If he couldn’t catch her, (comma not needed) she’d bring millions of yen into the future. She would win a one in ten million chance, twice, before a thousand people could buy tic...

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