🎧 Bedtime Story Podcast #41
Chapter 6 – Martin’s Danger
Myasako was not allowed back at the school for the rest of his time in England. He was, however, invited over to Arthur Muldridge’s house by his father, Jacobson Muldridge.
Jacobson appeared at the door of Martin’s mother’s house, two days after the fight at school. He was tall, dressed in a dark purple suit with slicked-back hair and a smile that made him look evil.
“Myasako?” he said, holding his hand out to shake it. Myasako ignored the hand, but bowed. He didn’t know what handshaking even meant.
“Myasako I would like you to come to my house for a meal. I feel as if you and Arthur have gotten off on the wrong foot, and I would like you two to become friends. Would that be possible? I have a chef who is Japanese, who cooks the finest Japanese cuisine. Would you like to come?”
“No,” Myasako said.
“I was hoping you could share your philosophies with me and Arthur. Arthur tells me you attacked him. Other children say he attacked you. I would like to invite you over for dinner, so this can be settled and we can share a little of our cultures. Tomorrow night. You can bring Martin’s mother too, if you like.”
“Would this mean that Arthur no longer picks on Martin at school?” Martin’s mother said, standing next to Myasako.
“Of course. Arthur will never lay a finger on poor Martin again,” Jacobson smiled.
“Ok, we will come then,” she replied.
“Excellent.” Jacobson smiled again, bowed slightly and turned back to go and sit in his Rolls Royce, which had the driver standing outside of it, ready to open the door.
Myasako still didn’t want to go. He had a terrible feeling in his bones about this man. It was the way he smiled, or the way his hair was too slicked back, or the way he walked or the way he spoke. Something unsettled him. Something seemed dishonest, and his ninja senses told him that he must go into Jacobson and Arthur’s house that night, to see what they really had planned.
“Where are all the other kids?” Martin said. “I miss having friends to play with. Where is the school?”
“The nearest school is far away from here,” Kuyasaki replied. “There are not many children your age, either. You may see some occasionally, but rarely on this street.”
Martin looked out onto the empty dirt road outside, with the bustle of the market beyond it.
“You are to be home-schooled while you are here,” Kuyasaki said. “I feel that martial arts should be a significant portion of a child’s education. We also devote three hours a day to Maths, English and Martial History.”
“What about Science?”
“We do Science on a Friday and Wednesday.”
Martin felt trapped. He wanted to go to more places, see more things. His legs already felt numb from this morning’s run, and although he had learnt what to do when people would attack him, he still felt as if something was missing – the company of others his age.
“I can’t believe you keep your son here like this. Surely he needs to have more friends.”
“The ninja’s life must be a solitary one.”
“It builds character.”
“But so do friends!” Martin said. “Don’t you ever feel like he is missing out on things?”
“Yes. Of course,” Kuyasaki said. “But what he loses in fun, he gains in mastery.”
“And you think mastery is more important than fun?” Martin said. He was feeling agitated and even more trapped, like he just had to leave. “Where are my shoes!” he cried. “I have to leave.”
“Do not leave by yourself, you do not know these streets,” Kuyasaki warned.
“I’m leaving, I’m going to find some fun. I thought ninja life would be fun. But it’s not. It’s boring and hard and repetitive.”
“You want the fruits, but you do not want to care for the tree,” Kuyasaki said.
“What are you talking about!” Martin cried. “What fruits? What tree? Just let me go!”
Martin pushed past his master, and he walked out into the street. He turned right, and disappeared from view, but he could be heard stomping down the street for many minutes by Kuyasaki, who was pausing to wonder if he was truly doing what was best for his own son.
That night Myasako dressed himself in black. He had a pair of slip-on shoes that his father had given to him, and he took out his nunchuks from his suitcase.
“Weapons are not to be clung to, and only used when necessary,” his father said in his head. “Do not use your skills when they are not needed.”
Myasako looked out into the night. It was two o’clock in the morning, and he put his nunchuks inside a small cloth bag with a string that he tied around his shoulder and body, and he stood again, staring into the night.
“I have to go to Muldridge’s house,” he thought. “I have to see what he really has planned for us. This is the time to use my skills for good.” He approached the window, gently opened it, leapt from his bedroom onto a nearby tree, and clambered down the tree like a little ape, and he disappeared silently down the road, and into the night.
He had found out where Muldridge’s house was from asking Martin’s mother…
“You know the grassy park that the bus drove past on your way to school? By the side of the park there’s a road that leads up the big hill near the swings. We keep going up the hill and then the house is at the very top, just on the right. It has a big driveway and a big gate at the front, it’s called ‘Muldridge Hills’.”
Myasako never mentioned he was going to go there alone in secret, and after running through the dark empty streets, he was soon running alongside the park. Once he had cleared the park he saw the narrow road near the swings which led up the hill and away from town. He started running up it.
The night air was cold and biting, but Myasako had always been taught to breathe through it. He could even direct heat to certain areas of his body, just by thinking about it. He was running up the hill as if he had only just begun running, not letting up any pace, and soon he arrived at a gated estate, huge tall gates with spikes on the top, with a long and winding driveway surrounded by trees which led to a large mansion in the distance.
Myasako looked up at the gate. He could even see a security guard’s office just inside to the left, and then he noticed two surveillance cameras staring down at him, blankly.
Myasako darted off to the side and rolled into the trees by the side of the lane, and he started to move through the trees, around the gate that had turned into a huge iron fence surrounding the land of Jacobson Muldridge, and Myasako started to look for an opening.
Martin was walking along, feeling sorry for himself.
“I want to go home,” he said out loud. “I don’t even want to be around Kuyasaki. All he’ll do is make me do drills and make me work and make me run. I don’t want to be a ninja at all. What’s the point?”
The road he was walking along was empty and quiet. He was alone. He had left the bustle of the marketplace and the little town, and he was suddenly aware that everything around him was very quiet.
His mind had been a storm of suffering, of feeling sorry for himself, of wishing he was somewhere else, until suddenly he noticed that it was all very quiet indeed.
He was alone. There was silence everywhere. Nothing was really happening. His torturous mind left him like a cloud being blown away, and suddenly he was like the pure sky, empty and clear, and even slightly happy.
It wasn’t his normal happiness. It was cooler than that. He felt spacious, as if all of his thoughts had been like dreams, and he looked around at the empty road, not needing to think about anything at all.
And then, in the distance, he heard the engine of a van.
Something in him tingled and told him to move away, to hide, but he ignored it slightly. He looked for places to hide and then thought:
“Don’t be silly, no need to hide, I’m only on a road. No, I think I’ll go back to Kuyasaki and apologise for storming out like that. Suddenly, without all of my old thoughts, I feel much better about all of this.”
The tingling in him got stronger. He started to walk back to where he had come from, and he could see the van in the distance getting closer.
“Hide!” he heard Kuyasaki say from the middle of his chest. “Hide!”
The tingling in his body and fingers became so strong that he found himself running off the road, along a dry and barren field that led back to the town.
“Run faster!” the voice inside of him said.
Martin ran faster and faster, but he wasn’t used to running at such speeds for so long, and although he had adrenaline beginning to pump through his veins, giving him bursts of energy, he could feel himself slowing down.
“Look behind you,” the voice inside him said, and he turned whilst running to see the van steer off the road, on to the field, and begin chasing him down.
“It’s too late,” Martin thought. “I’m too far away to hide anywhere. I have to fight. Oh, I wish I was better at fighting, I should have just stayed and trained with Kuyasaki.”
Martin stopped and looked at the van, but then decided that all he could do was run anyway, until the van was soon on him, rumbling the ground and his eardrums, driving in front of him and screeching to a halt, and four men in masks jumped out, grabbed him, and threw him in the back of the van. The four men jumped in after him and the van sped off again, turning around, and driving back on to the road.
They were all speaking Japanese, the men. Martin couldn’t understand any of it. It sounded aggressive and harsh and panicked. He heard the occasional word “Kuyasaki”, but couldn’t understand anything else. His hands were tied behind his back, and he was lying on the floor of the van. He was scared.
“Where are you taking me?” Martin asked one of them.
They ignored him. They carried on talking amongst themselves, and Martin had a terrible dark feeling begin to sink down inside his chest as he realised that these men didn’t care about his welfare at all.
“Where are we going?” Martin said again. This time one of the men looked at him. They all still had their masks on, and Martin could see that in the corner of this man’s eye, there was a thick scar that led into the side of his mask.
The man started to laugh. All the other men stopped talking and started to laugh, too. But then they stopped. They started looking at Martin more closely in the darkness of the back of the van, and the man with the scar beside his eye stood up from his seat and approached Martin on the floor. The man knelt down and moved his face towards Martin’s.
“Myasako?” The man grunted, staring with a wild gaze straight into Martin’s now clearly English, un-Japanese looking face.
“No!” Martin shook his head. “No I’m not Myasako!”
The man stood up. He shouted at the rest of the men, and mentioned the name “Myasako!” again. The man was pointing at Martin’s face, and all the men looked and leaned in closer to look at Martin, all realising that they had kidnapped the wrong boy.
“You were in dojo! You left dojo and we followed you!” the scarred man said. “You were with Kuyasaki!”
“But I’m not Myasako!” Martin cried. He could feel his insides shaking, he felt so afraid and exposed with his hands tied behind his back. He thought of his mum.
The man screamed and started punching the walls of the old van, which was steering and screeching its way through the roads at a consistent pace.
Then the man stopped, and he stared at the floor. Then he sat down, and he looked at Martin again.
“We still take you. Kuyasaki might still pay lots to get you back.”
The man’s eyes became smaller in his mask as he smiled an evil smile, and a wave of sniggering flowed through the rest of the men.
“Yes,” the man said. “We still take you.”
And with a fearful pit of darkness inside Martin’s chest, they drove him further and further away from the dojo, to a place he did not know.
Story written and read by Adam Oakley, Copyright © Adam Oakley