Read Honorbound Online

Authors: Adam Wik

Tags: #supernatural, #horror, #katana


BOOK: Honorbound
2.94Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

© 2012 Cairn Publishing All Rights Reserved

The first time you kill someone is the hardest. At least, it was for me. I don’t mean like in videogames and things. That’s easy. That’s pretend. I mean blood on your hands. Spilled guts. I mean murder. After the first one, it gets a lot easier.

I remember the first time I saw the sword. Uncle Jim had brought me to some charity estate auction. The hall it was in was dusty and cramped. There must have been at least a hundred people there, but it felt like a thousand. The a/c was out and the August sun had turned the room into a sauna.

“So who was this guy?” I asked. They were wheeling off an old wood trunk, just won by a portly man in the front whose fervent fanning with an auction paddle was failing to stop the sweat stain spreading over his chest.

“Some old rich guy,” Jim said. “Paper said he was an importer, bought and sold rare stuff from around the world.”

So far it had all looked like junk to me. “What happened to him?”

“No one heard from him at his office for a few days and started to get worried. One of his partners went over to check on him and found him dead.” He grinned his big stupid grin. “Found him in his living room. Decapitated. Police said it wasn’t foul play either. He had a big axe mounted over his fireplace, he must’ve been looking for something in there or cleaning it out and the mountings broke.
.” He chopped his wrist with his paddle. “Cut his head clean off. How unlucky was that?”

I didn’t have time to comment before they brought the next item out for auction.

“This is the last item for sale today,” the auctioneer called, “and the very last item the late Mr. Stamford added to his collection, acquired only a week before his passing — a beautiful antique katana from Japan.”

He lied. It wasn’t beautiful. Sunsets are beautiful. Flowers are beautiful. The sword was more. It was exquisite. Perfect. The handle was bound tight in gray ray’s skin leading to a jet black guard. The scabbard was two feet of sleek, brilliant emerald. It can’t be adequately described. It was like every gift I had ever wanted compressed into one glorious object. The auction hall, the heat, the sweaty crowd, it all faded. There was only the sword.

I’m not sure when the bidding started, but my uncle must have read my face. He raised his paddle.

“Two hundred dollars.”

I tore my eyes from the sword to gape at him. “What are you doing?”

Someone called out another number and Jim raised his paddle in turn.

“Three hundred fifty dollars.” He turned back to me. “I wasn’t going to get anything, but I missed your birthday so… call it a late present.”

The bidding went back and forth. I was petrified, certain my uncle would be outbid, but finally the others fell silent. The auctioneer banged his gavel. The sword was mine.

I could have screamed. I could’ve jumped up and down and hugged Uncle Jim and screamed, but I didn’t. That would have interrupted the auction. Someone else did that for me.

No sooner had Uncle Jim been declared the winner when the doors to the hall slammed open and a man tore in. The herd shuffled around to see who had disturbed their proceedings as the intruder raced to the stage, shouting at the top of his lungs.

“Not the sword!”

His tweed suit was wrinkled and worn, it looked like he’d been sleeping in it. His disheveled hair matched the wild look in his eyes.

“There will be blood! It’s cursed! You can’t sell it!”

Like most people with good advice, the crowd took him for a madman.

“I’m sorry, Sir.” The auctioneer glanced at the guards on the side of the stage. “This item has already been sold to the gentleman in the blue cap. Bidding is now closed.”

“I don’t want to buy it, I want it destroyed!”

The man tried to dash onto the stage but the guards were too quick. Each took an arm and began to drag the madman kicking and shouting to the doors. As he was dragged past our row he saw Uncle Jim’s cap.

“Destroy it! Don’t draw the sword! Don’t draw it! It’s cursed!”

He jerked one arm free and pulled his wallet from his pocket. Before the guard could catch him he slipped a card out, crumpled it in his fist and threw it at us. Still shouting he was dragged from the room and the doors slammed shut behind him.

The quiet lasted only a second before the hall filled with murmurs. It took the auctioneer’s gavel several slams to silence the crowd and declare the auction finished. As Uncle Jim and I stood to go claim my present I noticed the crumpled ball at my feet. I snatched it up before it was lost in the shuffle and slipped it into my pocket. I’m still not sure why.

It probably only took ten minutes for Jim to write a check and claim the sword, but it felt like hours before we had it. He carried it to the car, and only once we were in and on our way did he finally let me hold it.

“Your mom’s gonna kill me,” he said. “Let me take it in when we get there and talk to her first. Tell her it’s just for decoration, and don’t ever take it out when she’s around.” He gave me a stern look. “Most of all be careful with that thing. If you cut yourself or do something stupid I’m never gonna hear the end of it.”

I promised him he didn’t need to worry. I wasn’t stupid. I wouldn’t do anything to risk having it taken away from me, and I’d definitely never hurt anyone with it.

How wrong I was.

Uncle Jim was right to be worried, Mom was furious. I’m not sure how long she shouted at him, but I’m a little surprised our neighbors didn’t call the police. Eventually Uncle Jim’s reasoning and my puppy—eyed pleading started to wear her down. She conceded I was old enough now to be given a little responsibility and said I could keep it — on the solid condition that it was only for decoration and if she ever saw me playing with it I would never see it again until I was eighteen.

That was all I could ever ask. I hugged my mom as hard as I could and ran to my room to find a place for it. My dresser was perfect, right across from my bed so it would be the first thing I saw when I woke up. I pushed my action figures aside to make room and laid it gently in the clearing. It wasn’t right. Something so wonderful shouldn’t have to share space with toys. I gathered them up and tossed them on the bed so the sword was alone. Perfect.

My next thought was to call Sarah. She lived in the apartment above us and I couldn’t wait to see her face when she saw what I had in my room. Her phone rang for a while before anyone picked up. The voice that answered was her snot—nosed brother’s. It sounded like someone was sobbing in the background. I told him to go get Sarah.

“Hello?” Her voice trembled a little as she picked up.

“Hey, it’s me. Is everything ok?”

“Of course. Everything’s fine. What’s up?”

“You’ll never believe what Uncle Jim got me for my birthday. You have to get down here.”

She said she would be down right away and I hollered to Mom to let her know. Sarah must have been eager to know what the surprise was, because our doorbell rang not a minute after.

Mom got to the door first. She gasped when she saw Sarah. A dark purple blotch spread across her left eye and her eyelid had swollen to twice its size. Both cheeks were flushed, and her good eye was twinged with a touch of red. Despite the enormous bruise she was smiling. She was always smiling.

“I was in a hurry and I fell on the stairs. Do you have any ice I can put on it?”

Mom hurried off to the kitchen.

“Come on,” I said, “you have to see this.”

When she saw the sword she gasped like Mom had when she saw her eye. Mom came in to give her the ice pack and frowned when she saw it on the dresser.

“I still can’t believe Jimmy bought that for you.” She gave Sarah a long look before she left. “That should take the swelling down. Be more careful ok?”

I filled Sarah in on everything that had happened that morning.

“So you haven’t even taken it out yet?” she asked.

“No. Mom says I’m not allowed to.”

Sarah slid off the bed and quietly pushed the door until it was almost closed.

“Your mom’s in the kitchen.”

“But if she finds out she’ll take it away from me.”

“Don’t be such a baby. She’ll never know. Come on, I want to see it.”

I hopped off the bed and went over to my present. The skin wrapped handle was soft, the sheath smooth as glass. I carried it over to Sarah at the door.

“It’s so pretty,” she said. She ran her fingers along the enameled wood. “Take it out.”

I pulled on the handle. The blade resisted for a second before popping free of the scabbard with a click. I slid it out as gently as I could. The steel sliding from its case made a soft, sweet whisper. I cringed, sure that Mom would come charging in at the noise, but the sounds of her cooking continued to waft through the crack in the door.

The blade was the most wonderful thing I’d ever seen. Almost three feet of gleaming steel razor sprouting from an engraved square above the hand guard. There were two characters etched into it. One looked like two lowercase T’s with a few extra lines coming off of them. The other looked like an uppercase E mixed with an uppercase I.

“I wonder what that says.”

“Hold on,” Sarah said, “I’ll look it up.”

A few seconds on her phone and she had the answer.

“Ok, it says this first one here is either pronounced
, and it means town or village.”

“Or? What do you mean or?”

“It says both, I think they have multiple meanings. The second one is pronounced either
. It means righteous, correct or justice.”

“So, ‘town justice’?”

“I guess.” She slipped her phone back into her pocket.

“I like it.”

We didn’t have any more time to admire it before we heard Mom coming back down the hall. I snapped the sword back into its sheath and laid it back on the dresser then jumped back onto the bed just as she poked her head through the door.

“Would you like to stay for dinner? We’re having chicken and rice tonight.”

“Of course,” Sarah said, “I’ll have to ask Dad though.”

“Oh, don’t worry about that. I’ll give him a call and let him know.”

Dinner went quickly enough and by the time Sarah left I was thinking more about having to go back to school the next day than my gift. I went to change for bed before I brushed my teeth. When I got to my dresser the sword was lying naked next to its sheath. I grabbed it and slid it back in.

I could’ve sworn I had put it away before dinner. I would have to be more careful, if Mom had walked in and seen it lying out she would’ve killed me.

By the time Sarah and I were walking to school the next morning I had forgotten all about it. The day was filled with meeting new teachers, self—introductions and all the other trappings of the first day of another tedious school year. Sarah and I only had one class together, so we compared teachers the whole walk home.

“Ugh, be so glad you don’t have Mrs. Nelson for English. I think she already hates me,” she said as we rounded the corner.

“Sounds better than my English class. Right in the middle the leg on my desk broke. The whole thing tipped over with me in it and I smacked my head on the desk next to me.”

She fought back a smile.

“Don’t laugh, it really hurt.”

Her dad never came home until late so she decided to come hang out with me until her little brother came home. Mom had left a note saying she had some errands to run, so we went to my room to play video games. Sarah plopped down on the bed while I picked a game.

“Hey,” she said, “didn’t you say you’d get in trouble if your mom knew you took the sword out?”

“Yeah, why?”

“’Cause it’s out now.”

She was right. The blade sat naked on the dresser. I hurried over and slid it back into the sheath.

“I figured you’d get it taken away pretty soon, but I never thought you’d be dumb enough to leave it out all day.”

“I didn’t. Mom must have done it.”

I started the game and joined her on the bed. I’m not sure how long we played, but before too long I heard Mom come in the front door.

“Could you take a couple bags for me?” she asked when Sarah and I came out of my room.

BOOK: Honorbound
2.94Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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