Written for Sunday Photo Fiction. A story, about a curse and hostile takeover, begins after the photo.
“I cannot let this happen,” said Hideo Toyama, as he stared out the window at Kyoto.
Hiroko watched him in sympathy. Toyama’s company, which his family had started over 100 years before, would likely be lost by hostile takeover by the man outside the office. It was a terrible day for the man she’d served for 15 years, as members of her family had served the Toyamas for 300 years. Hiroko’s service was quite different. His successes were hers, and his failures, hers as well. Knowing his pain, she felt a tear slip down. She wiped it away quickly to hide it. He could not know that she suffered with him; then he might learn that she loved him.
As she watched him, she saw claws emerge from his hands. Tentacles began to sprout along his jaw. Hiroko moved quickly, taking his arm gently and turning him to face the tiny zen garden on his desk. As soon as he saw it, the tentacles and claws retracted, and he looked normal again. The small garden was 300 years old, and it was the only known thing to prevent the full expression of the Toyoma family curse, an ill-conceived one laid upon them by Hiroko’s family. Preventing the demon from fully emerging was why the Oita family served the Toyama family for so long. In all that time, the demon escaped only once and destroyed a city. The Oitas were committed to never let it happen again.
The key, was holding the infamous Toyama temper in check. So when she ushered the visitor in, she placed the zen garden on the desk before Hideo.
Matsuo Oshiro was a young, brash captain of industry. He had little care for common Japanese notions of courtesy and propriety. With careless abandon, he outlined how he planned to take over Hideo’s company. This was known beforehand by Hideo’s industrial spies. His demon stayed in check, but when Matsuo outlined how he would defame the Toyama name, how he would take every last penny and leave them paupers, it was Hiroko’s temper that unfurled.
The man she loved so dearly would be destroyed, utterly and completely. The notion filled her with rage. Before she thought any further, she snatched away the zen garden. The two men watched in shock as she stalked out of the office with it.
She bolted the door behind her and listened…until the screams began.
Each week, Alastair Forbes hosts a writing challenge for flash fiction based upon an original photo. This week’s prompt may be found here: http://sundayphotofictioner.wordpress.com/2014/04/20/sunday-photo-fiction-april-20th-2014/