“You have got to be joking?”
“No, I mean it, we are stuck.”
“You are telling me, I’ve travelled all this way. Bought loads of clothes, learned how to ski, used up two weeks of my holiday time, and now we are stuck in this room?”
“It is not a room it is a chalet.”
“Whatever. I would rather be working in my air-conned office than stuck in ice and snow.” He had plans when they returned.
Beam was far from beaming. She grew up in Bangkok; she had finally gained a degree in accounting. Her father promised her a holiday, anywhere she fancied. She could go with any female friend she wanted. Daddy would pay.
“But not that ‘falang’ boyfriend.”
Beam swore her friend to secrecy and went with the ‘falang’.
The foreign boyfriend was Chris. Chris didn’t like snow or cold. Coming from London, where there was not much snow, but cold enough to make him love the heat of Thailand.
They booked a flight to Tokyo and drove to Niseko. The chalet had a marvellous view of Mount Fuji. Chris even enjoyed sushi and saki on their first evening. The following morning was a struggle, neither wanted to move. Hangovers rendered the slopes unemployed, at least by Beam and Chris.
Beam stirred, the hot shower made her feel human again.
Until the door would not open.
It was frozen, and snow had drifted up the door. Chris turned over and snored.
Beam tried to free the wooden door. Then she tried to shift Chris.
“Have we got any coffee?” he asked.
She shuffled to the kitchenette.
“Was that you?” she called.
“Did you throw something at me?”
“Of course not, I don’t want you to spill my coffee,” he smiled.
“Well, you missed.”
“I threw nothing.”
“I felt it,” she said.
“What was it?”
“I don’t know, it's gone now.”
Beam busied herself clearing the glasses from last night. Mopping around the sink and finishing a half-eaten biscuit.
“What are you doing? It’s not funny,” she said.
“I’m enjoying the wonderful drink you gave me, nothing else. Except thinking what we are going to do today.”
“If you keep that up, we won’t be doing anything. You know what I mean.”
“I don’t know what you are talking about,” said Chris as he slurped the remains of his cup.
“A joke’s a joke. Okay, it’s not funny anymore,” said Beam, glaring at him.
Chris forced himself up and took the few steps to his girlfriend, she screamed and bent double.
“What’s the matter?”
“That hurt.” She clutched her calf muscle and rolled her tracksuit trousers.
“Christ, you’re bleeding. How did you do that?” Chris asked.
“I didn’t do it, you idiot.”
“Neither did I.”
“I believe you, but something did.”
Chris leaned closer, “God, how in hell?”
“What is it?”
“The back of your calf… has been sliced. Little cuts, one above the other. What could have done that?”
“I don’t know, but it hurts like paper cuts on your fingers.”
“Do we have a first aid box? You had better disinfect your calf.”
He started opening and closing cupboards. Slam, slam, slam. “Nothing, I’ll look in the bathroom.”
He heard a whimper. “Hold on, I’ve found something,” he rushed to the main room.
Beam was flat out, face down, with her legs bent. Both calves were now streaming with thick red goo.
“Rub that on the wounds, I’m going to find help.”
“What is it? The writing is Japanese.”
“I don’t know, smell it.”
Chris turned the door handle. It was frozen solid. He shook and rattled the brass; it did not budge. Nothing.
Grabbing the phone, no dial tone. He slammed it into the wall.
He looked in at Beam before he decided whether or not to break a window.
She had pulled off her leggings. The cuts now reached her knees.
“Christ, it is as if someone is nicking your skin with a razor. I can see it happening, one flick after another.”
“Stop it!” She screamed. Blood was gushing down her legs.
Chris picked up a vase, checked its weight.
“That will do,” he mumbled, as he hurled it at the door-side window.
The chunky pottery shattered and fell back onto the carpeting. The glass is still in one piece.
He ran and picked up the granite chopping board. Swinging with all his might. The stone bounced back.
Beam screamed as her hamstrings were sliced.
A helpless Chris pulled his hair, tears running down his cheeks.
“What can I do?”
Beam’s fear was beyond words, she was shaking, dribbling, quaking in pain. Chris ran from the door to each pane of glass. Hammering, thumping and finally screaming as he collapsed to the floor, he rolled up to Beam. She was still.
He felt the first knick at the back of his calf. Then another.
Back at Mae Sapok Village in northern Thailand, Beam’s father was resting after an eleven-hour drive. He dozed as his elderly brother lifted his legs onto a stool.
“There, there, dear brother. I know you have worries. Rest, then we will meet the ‘Mor Duu.’ He will fix everything.”
A cup of black tea was at his side when he awoke.
“Are you ready, brother?”
“I’m still dozy, but let’s complete this task. Then my life can return to normal,” he said, wiping his sweaty face with a cloth.
They climbed into the rusting hulk of a truck and chugged for twenty minutes to a shanty in the forest.
“My friends, I have been expecting you,” the ‘seeing doctor’ said. His room was dark, but cool. He counted the folding money and stashed it with a heap of banknotes.
“Have you bought what I mentioned?”
Beam’s father handed over a carrier bag of Chris’ belongings. In one pocket was an engagement ring. After their holiday, they were to be engaged. Beam’s father discovered their plan. And could not allow it.
Incense was burning, candles lit, the chanting began. Beam’s father was nodding, fighting to stay awake. Her uncle signalled the witch doctor to continue. He danced, waving a razor, over and around his head. Then he sliced his calf. One leg than the other. There was no blood. The cuts opened, then healed immediately.
A pair of Chris’ shorts were dipped in the fluid then torched, other items met the same fate.
Beam’s dad struggled to open his eyes.
“The ring?” he asked.
The uncle and the ‘doctor’ looked at each other.
“Er, we thought you meant both of them?”