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Xiu Sun and the Psycho


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“This is car seven, currently in pursuit of suspect—standby,” said Coleman, one hand tightening over the steering wheel; his whole body hunched up. He was already a thick ape-like man, but he looked like Kong in a toy-car at this point. Xiu was too busy staring at him and not focusing on the white Ford up ahead, illuminated with blue and red lights flashing across it. She turned to look at it and imagined the man inside, erratic and angry, with flickering eyes and talking to himself. Knight Lafferty was an escaped patient of the Badmoore Psychiatric Hospital in Oregon close to Columbia Falls, the town where she lived, and she’d personally wanted to catch this guy. She looked back to Coleman as he swerved. “Don’t lose him, Cole,” she said and immediately the brute spoke through gritted teeth.


“Don’t tell me how to do my f*ckin’ job, zipper.”


“Watch your mouth, Sergeant,” she spat back.


He huffed and sped up. Out here in the dark, open fields of Oregon, they could lose a car real easy under the circumstances. “Backup isn’t coming of course,” said Xiu more to herself. They were suddenly upon the Ford and attempted to pit the back end, spinning it out. After two scrapes and another fallback, Cole went in for the kill and snapped the back end of the Ford out; the bumper popping off and scraping across the road while the carspan around where it went with a ferocious screeching skid and smoke. The car stopped and rolled back, facing up an embankment. Xiu was already out of her cruiser, her hands tight on her Beretta and she was going forward. The lights of the Ford were off, she turned on her torch on her shoulder. Cole stumbled out by the door of the cruiser, ready to shoot.


In the distance there roared the approaching metal sluggishness of a train. Xiu ran up to the car and aimed in. “Freez—“ Empty seats greeted her. What the sh*t? She heard thudded footsteps and looked over to see a shape sprinting across the empty field, barely visible against the purple ocean of stars. She ran after him.




Already the sound of screeching tires was going over her voice. Up ahead the light of the freight train came into view, slowly moving. He’s gonna run for it. She sprinted after him, cold air filling her lungs as she moved across unlevel ground, the earth smell of mud filling her nose. This guy was fast, real fast. He’d already made it onto the train. She saw him move out of sight to the right and launched herself onto the open carriage. Then a noise of a crash went over the sound of the train. Cole. She leaned out and looked out into the field, his car suddenly on its side. She turned back to face the psychopath, Knight, and aimed at an empty carriage.


“Show yourself, right now,” she said, aiming her pistol towards the thin walkway of crates either side. A shape walked out of the darkness with deep breaths. It was Knight.


She moved closer to him. “You stay still.”


He raised his hands. With the light on his face she could make him out better now; he was tall, with scruffy, long black hair with streaks of gray, the same colour of his mountain man beard and a pair of dark red scrubs on his body. He was smiling at her, but it wasn’t what she expected of a criminal psychopath, it was a warm, disarming smile that took her a moment to get past. She aimed her pistol at him and he aimed his eyes at her. “You get on your front now.” He sighed and moved onto his hands and knees and then laid down with his hands behind his back. She was on him in two seconds, slipping out her cuffs and strapping them on him with the sound of zipping metal. She picked him up and put him against one of the crates before she stopped to look back out. The train began to gain speed.


She was worried about Cole. She went to reach for her radio and let out a quick gasp of air.


“No radio, huh?” said Knight with another smile. “This train doesn’t stop for three hours, officer—“ he squinted his eyes at her uniform and stared at her badge “—Sun.”


She sighed and rolled her eyes. “Dropped the damn thing when I was chasing you.”


He blew air through his nose and his cuffs clanged together. She pulled him to the floor and told him to stay facing her then sat down herself far enough for him to not lunge and crossed her legs. “We’re gonna sit here until this train stops then, and you don’t move.”


He nodded. “Sure thing.”


They sat in silence for a while and the cold air had begun to invade Xiu. She kept her aim on him and went to the open door of the carriage and pulled it across but it wouldn’t budge. She wrapped her hands on the bar and tried to pull it harder, gritting her teeth but the only thing that happened was the sound of metal scraping on metal. She clocked Knight as he stood up and bent down to tuck his arms under his legs.


“Hey, HEY. I said don’t f*cking move.” Knight ignored her and walked over to her. She let go of the bar and held her pistol at him and with one eye closed she aimed for his chest. “You jump I shoot.” He strolled to the door, lifted his cuffed hands up to the latch at the top of the door, and then slid the big door shut with a slam.


She was looking at him with wide eyes. He didn’t look back at her but just walked back to where she’d first spotted him and he sat down again. She lowered her gun and stayed staring at him while he reached into his pocket and pulled out a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. He lit one up and didn’t look at her. She lowered her gun and he looked at her with the cigarette perched in his mouth.


The more she stared at him the less she felt like she was with an insane convict but then the evil ones always seemed sane. He seemed lucid, and he could have just lunged for her or jumped from the train. But no, instead he’d locked the door and that was that. She walked over to him and sat across from him. “Why haven’t you tried to run?”


He shrugged. “I don’t wanna get shot, you know? Your partner nearly clipped me back at Columbia Falls, when I was coming out the convenience store.”


“He thought you’d attacked the cashier and he took a shot to incapacitate you. What did you do in there?”


He tapped the pocket on his chest and inhaled. “I feel like I’ve seen you before,” he replied. “Badmoore?”


“I don’t think so.”


“You sure about that, saw you come in a few times when I was doing garden work—not many Asian cops around Columbia Falls, and I’ve heard of you by name.”


“Okay, so you know me, so what?”


“Just making conversation, I’m a talker. I talk a lot. I yammer on when I get nervous but funny enough, never spoke to a therapist in Badmoore.”


“Been meaning to ask you about that, how’d you escape?”


He looked at his cuffs and then took the cigarette out his mouth and slid his eyes back to her. “I killed the janitor and ate his liver, and used his keys—murdered the nurse on duty and stole her scrubs.”


Xiu instinctively slid her hand back to her pistol and he noticed her move and then gave her another warm smile. “I was doing garden work and the security guy walked off to go get blown by the receptionist and I snuck out through the back way, there’s a broken hole in the wall out back in the garden.”


She found herself smiling for a moment and sat back on a crate. “You’re not funny.”


“I see you smilin’ though,” he said. “So you came to Badmoore a few times, eh? I wonder why.”


“Don’t act like you know me, psycho.”


“I knew your brother, think his name was Thai, no—wait,” he clicked his fingers, “Towel—Tao. Tao! I remember him, I mean who wouldn’t? This is Oregon, and he was the only other Asian guy in the joint. And I saw you visit him a few times, you’d just sit with him and look awkward in your uniform, but one time you came in this, I think it was a teal dress—real cute.”


She was staring at him with wide eyes, breathing heavily. He noticed it and then mouthed the words “okay,” and closed his mouth. He dropped the stub of his cigarette and stamped it out. Her eyes were still on him and she felt a rush of heat in her stomach. Hearing the name Tao, it flushed through her and she felt fresh saliva build in her mouth and a tightness on her head. “You knew him well?”


He shrugged. “We spoke a few times and played cards, well, I played cards and cheated lookin’ at his hands because you know, the catatonic sh*t but I spoke a lot to him. He spoke to me a few times too.”




“I was a Marauder, Second Battallion, Fifth Marines. I noticed he had a Semper Fi tattoo on his left arm that had faded a little and I look at him and I say ‘Semper Gumby’ and he looks at me and smiles for a moment, just a little smile, and then I ask him what Batallion he was with but he never responded. I never saw him but always found it crazy to be shacked up in Badmoore of all places with a guy I’d been in the war with. I don’t know what battalion though, never found out.”


She’d crossed her legs and moved closer to him now and was more interested in what he was saying. She wanted to hear about Tao, she’d missed him so much in the last few months and didn’t know how coincidences or irony worked this well, but the supposedly psycho man in front of her had told her more about him than she’d heard of Tao in three years. Dad never even bothered to go up there and look at his own son, he just kept on doing his job and so she did the same. She rubbed one of her eyes and then said: “He was a Wardog, Seventh, Second Batallion.”


Knight smiled. “Ready for anything, countin’ on nothin’.”


She wiped her eyes and said “Yeah,” as she looked away. “He spoke to you?”


“No, he was too far gone for that.”


“You saw action yourself?”


“Was stationed in Helmand. I saw some rough sh*t. Worst thing that happened to me was when an IED near a rusted out car launched a piece of metal—slice through my head,” he turned his head around and said “lift up my hair at the back and you can see.”


She froze for a moment, reached out but her hands stopped, and then she felt his hair to lift it. As she crouched to peek she expected his head to smash her face and leaned back but when he remained still and said “Ya see it?” she knew he was okay. She looked at the huge line that went diagonally across the back of his head. Like a graph chart across his head.


“Must have really slit you bad.”


She moved back and sat down and he turned back to face her. “Came flying at me. There was that, got clipped with a very old Colt in my leg, and got a nice twenty-two going straight through my gut during a routine sweep on an ol’ highway. Did Tao ever get hit?”


“I don’t know...”


“I’m sure he did. He was in the thick of it.”


“Don’t talk like you know him cause you were shacked up in a loony bin with him. Don’t mention my f*cking brother again, I’m warning you.” Her words flowed like venom and she always hated it. Tao was a touchy issue when she was in the best of moods. She took a moment and kept quiet and then waited for him to talk again. Don’t think about Tao. But Knight just shrugged and kept quiet, looked around, whistled, and then looked back at her.


“Gonna have to face those demons one day, but fine,” he raised his hands in defeat, “what about you? Tell me about you, miss Sun.”

"I might have laughed if I'd have remembered how."


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Mokrie Dela

This is a really well constructed piece. Good strong start, and the pace drops - by this time we're already invested. And just when that interest begins to lessen, we're teased with the twist of her brother and the connection with knight - while the pace had dropped, more (and contrasting) conflict arises and the style is almost flipped; a great blend of suspense and mystery, has us looking forward and backward in Sun's story. One or two little errors, but too negligible to mention (you'll spot them!). Been a while but if you're going to return, even infrequently, to these forums, this is a great way to do it


The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.


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Oh man Ziggy, this is nice. So much depth that you allude to but don't touch. I love the tendrils of other stories creeping out. You could twist one up and burn any time you want my man. And the Asian main character is a great touch that you handle deftly. There is not enough representation for many races in fiction, so I am proud to see another writer using their stories as an outlet for this to change. Keep it up! I love simple titles and yours is perfect and descriptive. The story itself is wonderful.


If I could offer one tip, I'd say don't get too lost in your character's heads. Their thoughts get a bit long winded at points, and I'm a big believer in show don't tell. Show us who your characters are by actions and behaviors. Don't write autobiographies in their heads that are otherwise meaningless to the story.


Other than that, great job!! Keep it up! Would love to see more!

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Thankyou for the feedback. I will definitely take it on board with the next draft. :) I appreciate you guys taking the time to read it.




“I’m a cop with the Columbia Falls Sheriff Department. I catch criminals.”


“You always wanted to be a cop though?”


“Dad’s the Sheriff. Brother’s military. No mom. Just following in the footsteps of better men. Why the hell are you so curious about me?”


“Your dad’s the Sheriff? Bet that makes arguments fun.”


“We clash all the time. Becomes a match and he’s always the winner. He’s old fashioned. Thinks he can always overrule me. Stop talking.”


She squinted her eyes at him and he stared back at her. “You should stand up for yourself.”


“Your brother was in Badmoore. I remember him. Tao—catatonic man. Was down to a lot of things but I used to sit and talk to him a lot, but I never saw you. Think you visited him like twice the whole time. You never saw me when you were there the last time, I was sat behind you guys. You budged past me on the way out.”


“Yeah, old news. I said stop talking.”


“You think about him much?”


“Stop trying to psychoanalyze me, psycho.”


“I’m not, I’m just making conversation. He was your brother after all. I always thought you looked pretty cute but pretty sad too when you’d come up, but what do I know. I spend most my days in a padded room trying to get the demons outta my brain. Cause we’re all crazy in Badmoore, right?”


“What gives you the right to talk about my brother?”


“I knew him. You’re touchy on this, huh? Funny—you should try talking about it, it’ll make you feel better.”


“I don’t want to talk about this. Drop it.”


“Okay. Sure thing...Did you go to the funeral?”


“No—Yes, I mean,” she’d been knocked off guard. “No. I didn’t—enough. Enough.


There was silence for a while and she looked at him as he smoked and remained still. He acted pretty normal, no tics, no agitation, but at the same time no symptoms didn’t mean there wasn’t illness. She sat quietly, listening to the rumble of the train and then after a while, curiosity got the better of her and she ended up staring him down until he locked eyes back with her and went “what is it?”


She stared at him. “You know, most the people up in Badmoore are insane, schizophrenics, violent people, people like Tao. Who even are you? How did you even end up in a place like that cause you are extremely conscious and don’t seem all that crazy to me. What’s wrong with you?”


“It’s a long boring story, and you’d lose interest.”


“And for that matter, where do you think you were headed?”


He tapped his foot and looked down and then away from Xiu. “I was going to see my family is all, they’re in California and this train is headed there. Was gonna go see em once last time.”


Xiu stood up, “One last time before you what? Set fire to their house? Blow up their car or cut them into pieces? People like you, the conscious ones are most dangerous. John Wayne Gacy types who are completely sane and just f*cked up, you ain’t making it to California, pal.” She slid her hand to her hip and went back into cop mode. She looked down at him and he eyed her up and down. “You’re playing games if you think you’re getting there to hurt them, and you’re even more insane than I thought if you still think you have a chance of getting there when I’m around.”


“My wife and children are dead, Sun. They died three years ago—so don’t worry about me going on a psychotic killing spree. If I was gonna do that, I’m sure Columbia Falls coulda suited me y’know, just walk on down the street killing people until I got gunned down.”


She felt something like regret slide down her throat. She didn’t want to trust him, but at the same time she felt like she could but couldn’t dare say it out loud. The longer they looked at each other, the more they talked, the more the ice chipped off her shoulder and she found herself becoming the ultra-cop, the hatred-filled cop like Cole had become. She didn’t want to be that, losing herself in the process of getting the crooks in. She knelt down and looked at him in the eyes then and realized she was sacrificing strength, showing weakness, and for all she knew was being manipulated every second. So why was she falling for it?


“I’m sorry, Knight,” she said, “my job it—“


He waved his hands away. “Don’t. It’s okay, it’s fine—ya job, it’s just a part of you. Tough chick, tough girl. It’s good to be like that.”


“What happened to them?”


“Saint Bartholomew shooting,” he said but he didn’t look at her as he said.


She remembered that. A big school shooting in California a few years back. She remembered seeing it on TV. A group of cultists of some sort, Satanic, she wasn’t sure, went in and shot up the school. Regarded as one of the biggest school shooting tragedies in American history, to rival some of the bigger ones. She moved over and sat next to him and said “Can I bum a cigarette?” He looked at her and smiled as he leaned the pocket towards her. She took the pack and pulled one out. Knight slipped out the light and handed it to her. She kept one hand close to her weapon.


He’d cleared his throat and scrunched his face up. “So I’d gotten back from duty six months in, and both my little girls were moving up a grade. Jess was going into third grade, while Tiff’ was going into fourth. My wife, a very stubborn woman,” he said with a gravelly voice, “was a hardass on me. A marine. Try raising two little girls on your own for a long time, you become Superwoman—“ He looked into nothingness for a moment. “—I always thought she was Superwoman.”


Xiu lit up the cigarette and inhaled. She hadn’t smoked in so long but she missed the taste and the sudden rush of lightheadedness; she tried to hide it. She nodded and handed him the pack and lighter back and leaned back. “What was her name?”


“Cassandra—she was an English teacher at Saint Barts. I remember the day that it happened, it was like the sunniest day, and I get this phonecall. I’m already home, on the phone about a job and I hear the news,” he said.


He put on a fake informative voice: “School shooting at Saint Bartholomew, California. Two suspects have fleed while the other six have been killed. Casualties are as high as fifty. Supression weapons have been identified at the scene. And I’m already out the door, I’m runnin’. I’m in my car and I’m on that f*cking scene. I’ve arrived and police are everywhere, and in my head I’m just—“he put two fingers to his head, “—I’m losing it, I’m going insane. I’m begging God, anything, I’m praying but when the cops come out and some of them are in tears, I know it’s too late. I run through the barricade and the cops try to stop me and I’m screaming I’m military and the police are wheeling out the casualties.”


Xiu looked at him as small tears built in his eyes but they never fell. He kept talking, pushing on through. She sat and kept listening as he spoke, encapsulated. She told herself that if at any moment she doubted Knight what he was saying, no insane man would make up such a story. I believe him, why do I believe him? Knight looked down and stopped for a moment and then continued on.


“And they wheel out Tiff, she’s alive but critical—Cassandra’s class, the entire class was shot dead, two injured. Jess was shot when she was running away and a kid took another shot covering her. And I’m clinging onto the one thing I got left you know? I couldn’t mourn. I couldn’t mourn while she’s in the hospital and I’m sat out in that hallway for a whole day until the docs come over and he apologizes and I hear nothing, I see nothing. I just slide onto the floor,” he slapped his hands together, “poof, and I’m gone.” His eyes slid over to her.

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"I might have laughed if I'd have remembered how."


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Wow Zigarette, this completely held me. A lot more even than the first one. The conversation between criminal and cop is fluid, believable, and so intriguing. I really want him to just go nuts and randomly tear her apart for trusting him, but I'll let the author decide how that turns out... :)


When you write about mental illness, you definitely seem to be doing it with some degree of experience. Unlike sh*tty movies like that new one, Split, people with mental illnesses are much more than one dimensional characters, and you showcase that vividly in your descriptions and the dialogue for 'The Psycho.' The school shooting aspect was very interesting, and not what I expected at all. Keep fleshing this out man. You have something very worthwhile here, and I nix all my complaints from my first post! Good on you for taking the criticism and using it!!


EDIT: Wanted to add this as well! The way you start off their dialogue slowly is very believable. She's a trained cop. She's not just gonna sidle up next to this bloke for no reason. But the way he verbally weasels his way in is masterful. I love it.

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Wow Zigarette, this completely held me. A lot more even than the first one. The conversation between criminal and cop is fluid, believable, and so intriguing. I really want him to just go nuts and randomly tear her apart for trusting him, but I'll let the author decide how that turns out... :)


When you write about mental illness, you definitely seem to be doing it with some degree of experience. Unlike sh*tty movies like that new one, Split, people with mental illnesses are much more than one dimensional characters, and you showcase that vividly in your descriptions and the dialogue for 'The Psycho.' The school shooting aspect was very interesting, and not what I expected at all. Keep fleshing this out man. You have something very worthwhile here, and I nix all my complaints from my first post! Good on you for taking the criticism and using it!!


EDIT: Wanted to add this as well! The way you start off their dialogue slowly is very believable. She's a trained cop. She's not just gonna sidle up next to this bloke for no reason. But the way he verbally weasels his way in is masterful. I love it.


I wrote this entire thing in one sitting. I really wanted to go with the idea of her trusting him and him f*cking her up. But I think I wanted something more hopeful and cuter. I've had a lot of experience with the mental health aspect of stuff, and this is just a short segment of a bigger universe I'm trying to flesh out and I liked the idea of this cute little thing. So I hope you enjoy it and thanks for the comments. :)

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"I might have laughed if I'd have remembered how."


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Xiu’s cigarette was all ash and it was on her trousers. She didn’t notice, and only looked at Knight who was rubbing his eyes. “It wasn’t your fault, Knight.”


“I know. But you wanted to know why I was in there and why you’re spending your Friday evenin’ chasing a psychopath.


She smiled weakly. “I didn’t have plans anyway—just sit at home and read up on fishing laws.”


He smiled at her and she did the same to him. He looked away with a small laugh and said: “Rogue fishermen, Oregon’s like the Mexico of illegal fishing activities. You never settled down yourself?”


“Once or twice,” she said, warming up. “Dated guys from the department—always a pissin’ match with them and it never lasted. The job always intervened. Hard to talk jurisdiction and pull rank on somebody you’re sleeping with every night.”


“I never had that problem. My wife was always the Sheriff and I knew it.”


Xiu laughed. It came naturally and she stopped herself when it got too much. She couldn’t loosen up anymore. Knight still had to go in, still had to be cuffed and taken away and put back in that asylum whether she wanted it or not. If she couldn’t do it, what good would being a cop be? She was worried about Cole in those moments of clarity but something inside pulled her back and she found herself looking at the haggard Knight again.


“You got admitted to Badmoore.”


“Yeah,” he replied. “After that night, I lost it. Floated through everything, went through more pain and loss than a tour of the war could show me, and boy it showed me a lot. But this one night I’m at a gas station, and I fill my car up, fuel guage goes up and up and up and up—up—up—up—up! Until gasoline’s spewin’ from my car and onto the floor, and on my shoes, and it seeps all over the tanks and I light a cigarette and drop it and the fire spreads everywhere. I got no idea what I’m doin’ and the fire spreads more and I see these two kids screaming in the car next to the tanks. I smash the window and grab the kids and pull em out when I wake up and we’re running and then BOOM. Fire goes up and luckily the two kids are okay, they ain’t hurt but the damage made a car swerve in the road next to it and the man hit somebody and crippled them. I had to pay the damages off and was arrested. Judge said due to my outstanding history of military dedication and due to the mitigating circumstances of my wife and children, I was to be admitted for psychiatric evaluation and possible admittance. That was three years ago.”


“I’m sorry, Knight,” she found herself saying quietly. He looked at her and sniffed, wiping his nose on his sleeve.


“It’s okay. It’s just life y’know. So I wanted to go say goodbye to them one last time.”


“One last time?”


“End of the line for me. I’m not going to come back from this.”


Silence hung in the air.


“You could,” Xiu eventually added.


“What about you? You stopped going to see Tao.”


Xiu looked away from him then and climbed to her feet. She walked around a little and then leaned her head on a crate and listened to the rhymthic chug of the train around her. She could feel his eyes burning into her and the cop, the professional Xiu was melting away like old ice. Her hands tightened up and she looked at him. “I never even went to the funeral. I couldn’t see him like that, not in there. Not all screwed up and frozen because of something he’d seen. That wasn’t my brother. I tried hard to visit but he was just becoming less himself.”


“If you could say one thing to him, and you knew he was listening, would you say it to him?”


She thought for a moment and then said it. “Yeah.”


Knight stood up. “Do something for me. Do something for me and I’ll comply with everything you ask. You got my word on that. I’ll end my life the second it’s done and you that’ll be the end of this manhunt.”




He got up close to her and whispered to her. “Take me to where Tao was buried. I’ll never make it to California, but maybe I can say goodbye to somebody who was in that hellhole with me. You help me get there and I promise you,” he grabbed her hands and held them gently, the cuffs rattling between them, “let me do this one thing and I’ll be done.”


Thoughts raced in her mind. She closed her eyes and pulled away from him. “Damn it, Knight. I’m a cop. Look at where we are. Not too long ago I was chasing you down. I’m taking you in. Two hours ago I was taking potshots at you and now...now all this—I don’t know what to think.”


“Did you think I was just manipulating you? Lookin’ for the right time to strike and run?”


“Yeah,” she said with wide eyes, “yeah exactly. I’m still waiting on that to be honest, and I know you will. Just sit back down and wait.”


“Do this with me,” he begged. “Do this with me and I’ll be grateful.”

Looking into his eyes she saw desperation. If he wanted to run, he could. She couldn’t do this because she was already too close to the fire. She didn’t hate this criminal, she didn’t even dislike him. She saw something like looking in a mirror, two separate people but similar; lost in their own ways and she hated seeing that, hated seeing how similar she was to him with a badge the only difference. No. She’d let him go, but she couldn’t go with him. She felt the compassionate Xiu argue with Cop Xiu.


She looked at him and reached into her pocket. She slipped out the key and undid his cuffs slowly. They both looked at each other and they dropped onto the floor with a metallic thud. Knight rubbed his wrists. He looked at her and smiled and said “Thankyou,” and she walked away to take some breaths. She put her hands on her hips and looked away, questioning herself, wondering why she was doing this. Tao. Was this happening? Was she going to do it? Aid a fugitive? And for what? She wanted to shoot Knight, but she wanted to save him too. Why? Questions rattled in her head and she debated cuffing him to the door and leaving him. She looked at him, ragged and tired, and said “I know you want to run and I can’t fight this, I’m too tired. Just get off when we stop and run and I’ll make something up.” She looked down and felt a stab in her heart, like she was betraying people, her father for one.


“I don’t want to run, don’t you get that? I want you to come with me.”


“What’s the point? You’ve got your chance to run to California, so take it while you can.”


She felt his hand on her shoulder. “I want to go and see Tao. I’m serious. That’s all. I’m not asking you to betray you job, I’m just saying...I’m just sayin’ like let’s hold off on it for a few hours and that’s it.”


She turned to look at him with wide eyes, perplexed at what she was looking at. “I take this back, you really are crazy.”


“Come with me.”


She didn’t know what to do and as she looked at him staring at her, the idea of being a cop melted away within seconds and she felt something warm in her stomach. She sighed and knew that deep down inside she was going against her father, against Cole, against the whole Sheriff Department but when she looked at the ragged Knight in front of her she didn’t seem to care that much. She nodded, letting cop Xiu float away and then she asked “how do we get off this train?”


“We jump,” said Knight.


“Jesus Christ, no wonder you were in that sh*thole.”


Knight made sure the train was going slow enough for them to jump off. It took longer than expected but they eventually managed to land in the soft mound of a field, crashing down an embankment together and rolling. No serious injuries were caught but they were covered in mud together and found themselves laughing at each other regardless of the circumstances. They dusted themselves off and looked around before they began walking through the field.


“Where are we?” Xiu looked around and noticed lights up ahead.


“Small town I’d assume. We were travelling for an hour and a half, so I’m assuming this is Kastoria Hills—outskirts. Where was Tao buried?”


“Columbia Falls.”


“Damn. Long way away. I can’t walk around in these, and I think we both need to clean up before we go there.”


“What do you suggest?”


He looked at her and smiled; mud covering his mucky face. “That place got a motel?”


They’d made it to town and in the dead of night didn’t have to worry about the locals of the densely populated Kastoria Hills asking questions but the clerk at the motel would. They strolled over to the large vacant MOTEL and walked up to the clerk who was half asleep. A PlayGirl magazine rising and lowering on his stretched, food-stained t-shirt. He grunted and fell forward and let out another yawn. “Whayouwan?”


“A room for the night please,” said Knight, polite as he’d ever be.


“You two lookin’ a little dirty, you uh...what you been up to a little nightplay?”


Knight smiled at the man and looked at the clerk. “Costume party, nurse and cop—but we’re ready for her examination,” said Knight as he spanked Xiu who smiled and spoke through teeth: “I’ll still shoot you.”


“Huh?” said the clerk.


“Nothing! Just one room please, overnight will do, buddy.”


The clerk rolled his eyes and gave them a key to room twelve. Xiu followed Knight. A drunk couple strolled past them, laughing with a bottle of whiskey between them. The man wore a scruffy black suit and the girl was sporting fishnets and a denim jacket; working. They went into room eleven giggling with inebriation and slammed their door shut. Knight walked in and shut the door behind Xiu. He sighed and leaned back on the door.


“Costume party, huh?”


“Shut up,” he said and went to the bathroom. The room had two beds, a bathroom, a TV set, and the proverbial Bible. Xiu sat on the bed and let her hair down and it flowed over her past her shoulders. Knight looked to her.


“I’m gonna take a shower.”

Edited by Ziggy455

"I might have laughed if I'd have remembered how."


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  • 2 months later...



“Sure,” said Xiu as she sat on the bed and looked away. She felt the weight of him sit on the bed next to her.


“You okay?”


“I’m...I’m doubting. I’m a cop—I shouldn’t be doing this, Knight. I understand you, I know how you got here but...”


“You’re still doing your job, Xiu,” he put a hand on her shoulder. She wanted to cringe, she wanted him to keep touching her. She wanted him gone, she wanted him to stay. “You’re just doing it in a few hours. You’re still a good cop, I promise you that.”


She nodded and watched him get up and go into the shower. There was a phone away from her and she looked at it for what felt like hours. When the sound of the shower was loud and muffled, she walked over to it and made a phone-call. She knew it was the right thing to do, but when she hung up guilt flooded over her. Why did you feel guilty? She felt like she’d betrayed a friend, and the regret hung over her as she sat on the bed waiting for the blue and red lights to show up. Cole was okay. He’d said he’d passed out but he was fine and he was coming to get her. He’d be there within an hour. She sat on the bed and fell backwards. “I’m sorry, Knight,” she said as she looked at the closed bathroom door.


Half an hour later, Knight emerged in just a towel. The beard was trimed down to a fine stubble, and his haggard hair was shortened, pristine and neat. Xiu Wondered how he’d managed to do that and he looked at her with that infectious smile and said “Mirrors. You learnt it in the corps to cut your hair like this or you just get it cut off.” She looked at his bulky, lean body and noticed the scars on his stomach. She stood up and walked over to him and put slowly ran her hand across it, and then across the back of his head.


She looked into his eyes and could see the face hidden once beneath muck and hair. He looked refined now, younger but with a twinge of age which she somewhat found attractive. He eyed her for a moment and felt her knuckles slide down his torso gently. She could see his eyes flicker and he closed them for a moment before he pulled away. “I need to go somewhere. I’ll be back in ten, do you mind?” What the hell was she thinking? Why was she touching him? She hated this, hated being put on the spectrum of everything with this strange, attractive man. She found herself agreeing with him more and questioning less. This isn’t how good people letalone good cops acted.


“Yeah, sure, don’t be too long or I’m out a job.”


“I made a promise. I won’t be going anywhere, Xiu.”


He put on his pair of now crumpled scrubs and quickly crept out the door. If he didn’t come back, she’d have a lot of explaining to do to Cole. She was sat in pure tension, her insides screaming at everything she was doing. Thoughts of Tao filled her mind, and thoughts of Knight and his children, of the life he lived before the horrors of things caught up with him. She thought of herself and her job, the love she had for her hometown and all things of it. She didn’t want to be sullied there, back in Columbia Falls. She closed her eyes and then opened them when the door swung open and Knight stood before her wearing a familiar scruffy suit she’d seen before. He held up a set of keys and said “Time to go.”


“Did you just rob them?”


“I’m not long for this world, Xiu. You don’t have to like everything I do but there’s no other way to get there.”


Enough. She didn’t like this. Didn’t like any of it. “Just...just—I’m sorry, Knight—I’ve called Cole. He’s on his way here.”


He nodded and said matter-of-factly “you gotta do what you gotta do.”


“I can’t do this! I can’t be an accomplice to you. I’m a f*cking police officer and this isn’t what I signed up for. Stealing sh*t and evading my own peers. Would you ever sell out a soldier?”


He walked over to her and knelt down. Xiu felt the words flowing from her mouth like a river of nonsense. She was letting irrationality just come out. Words like loyalty, honor, cop, professional and Knights eyes flitted back and forth. She sighed. “I should take you in and I should be going home and I need to report back to my boss, my own father and explain all of this because I’m just being unprofessional and I’m stronger than this I—“ He gently pulled her in and she felt his lips connect with hers. She clenched her fist for a moment and hit it against him. He kissed her again and her fist bashed against him again, weaker, again, weaker, until finally her hands went to his face and they found themselves kissing in a slow rhymthic move, together. Her head exploded and for the briefest moment it shut off. She just wanted to enjoy whatever this what, no matter how f*cked up it all seemed. Knight pulled away too soon.


“I know you don’t trust me, trust how crazy this all is. I’m crazy, I know. Just come with me to Columbia Falls. Let me say goodbye to a friend.” She nodded and he kissed her gently once more and then she followed him out into the parked pickup truck, and they drove off down the road and all the way back to Columbia Falls. Xiu sat watching Knight drive and found herself ignoring the fact she wanted him, was interested in him more than anything else. He was mysterious but honest, she hoped to God he was honest. The thought in her head that stuck like a knife in her brain was what if Knight had taken her then and there, would she sleep with a fugitive? The bigger question was, why would she have let him?


She sat watching him for what felt like the whole journey and then for the briefest moment she felt his hand on hers and she didn’t push it away. She sat there, and for the first time in a lot of years, something just clicked in her and she felt good, pretending she wasn’t failing in her duty, and aiding a mental asylum convict. She was sitting and driving with a man who was so far from anything she’d seen before in her job.


She looked out the window. “Knight?”




“When you say goodbye to Tao, are you going to kill yourself?”


He didn’t respond. He just kept driving and looked at her. He gripped her hand tightly and kissed it and she had the answer she wanted. She looked out the window with wide eyes and told herself she’d have to arrest him before he could do it. After all this time he was really just a suicidal mess who needed support.


They finally arrived in Columbia Falls during the early hours of the morning. They pulled up outside the cemetery and huge church where she’d seen the pictures of Tao’s funeral. Across from the beach of the Columbia river was the steeple and the gravestones. Xiu watched Knight reach into the glove compartment and grab a phone. They walked over to find where Tao was buried and Xiu couldn’t do it. She walked away and stopped dead in her tracks.


She felt his hand on her shoulder. “Come on,” and she turned to walk over to the large gravestone with the pictures of Tao, young and smiling. The chiselled inscription said:


To Tao Sun, A brother, a son, a soldier, forever young and smiling. May the sasuke leaves fall on you forever more.


Already she felt tears escaping and she got on her knees and covered her mouth. “Say your goodbyes, Knight.” She forced the words out.


“I didn’t bring you so I could say goodbye,” he replied with a cool smile. Xiu looked up at him.




“I did it so you could finally say goodbye to him. You never would. So now you can. Say goodbye—he’ll hear you.”


She looked up at him and felt the realisation of what he’d done. So many times throughout the night she’d expected him to run, to kill her, to attack her. Each little piece of an insecure puzzle to what might happen and all this time this was what he’d led it to. She looked at the headstone and let more tears fall.


She sat and spoke to him. She let the pain of her chest, her head and her heart flow out while Knight stood behind her. She recalled the good times, she recalled the bad times—each moment she sat with him and then her tearful eyes flowed on and on and then she felt the breaking of the sun come through in the morning. Knight sat down next to her and put his arm around her and he smiled as she laughed, and recalled the memories of childhood. He laughed, he cared, he listened and when she finally finished she just went quiet.


“I let him down.”


“No you didn’t.”


“I couldn’t help him.”


“Sometimes we have to do things that don’t make sense to keep going or to get out, it wasn’t on you. You have to learn to move with things or you die. You’ve gotta be flexible.”


Knight smiled to himself. “Semper Gumby,” he said to himself.


“Semper Gumby,” added Xiu as she smiled and then she kissed Knight hard. They both shared hot breaths and looked at each other and Xiu whispered to him, “thankyou.” She stood up and put a hand on the gravestone. “I love you Tay and I miss you every day, and I’m gonna miss you. I’m so sorry it took all this madness to get me to come, but knowing you, you’d not even doubt me like I doubt myself right now.” Knight stepped away and walked off a little. She stood with Taoas the sun began to rise and she felt its heat and wanted to believe Tao could hear her. She was a Sun—he was too, and maybe that meant he’d always be here in this town.


She sighed, wiped the tears away, and said to her brother, “Goodbye, Tao.”


She turned away to feel the heat of the sunrise against her back. Knight was stood away from her with his hands crossed. She walked up to him and he looked at her and didn’t say a single world. She felt lightheaded and breathless.


“Please, Knight—tonight...tonight, all of this, I can’t imagine that it’d ever have happened. I can’t imagine what or why. I just thought—“


“You just thought I was crazy?”


She smiled and then it faded and thoughts flooded back into her head. “Please don’t go. Please don’t end it all. Don’t end it all now, I don’t want that—I want to help you. Why did you do this? Why did you go out of your way for me?”


He shrugged. “I wanted to feel like I wasn’t worthless. I wanted to do something nice.”


The lump in her throat got bigger and she looked at him and let out a weak yelp. “Please don’t end your life.” He smiled his infectious smile and put his clenched fists upwards.


She looked at him, confused. Her head hurt from the crying, the heat blasted down on her in her mucky uniform, and suddenly the sound of sirens went off in the distance.


“It’s time to do your job, Officer Sun,” he said and raised his hands to her. “Arrest me.”

"I might have laughed if I'd have remembered how."


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