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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

Dim Sum Mysteries - 4. Chapter 4 - Arms of Darkness

Will Ryan be too late?

Chapter 4 – Arms of Darkness

Friday, Mac Worthington High School, 12:12

How had it developed so fast? I mean, it didn’t mean that Michael and I were now an item or anything, but it was nice to know that he felt the same way about me.

We sat together at lunch, just talking about useless stuff. Inevitably, I knew what was coming though – our conversation eventually ended up with the talk of that message.

The next one will die in the multiple arms of darkness.

I had no idea what that even meant. It was freaky and I didn’t want to believe it, but Victoria had been right so far. If she was right about this, I didn’t know what I’d do.

“You okay?” Michael asked me.

“’m fine,” I mumbled, staring at my food. “I was just thinking.”

“Is it about the message?” Michael guessed correctly. “I’ve been thinking about it too. Doesn’t seem real, does it?”

I nodded silently. Then I noticed someone walking towards us. Victoria pretty much stood out against the rest of us. She was dressed in dark clothing, looking like her usual gloomy self. She sat down opposite of us.

“You two,” she said, “have you found out anything more?”

“Nope,” I sighed.

“Listen, I thought you should know that the Gunner could be targeting figures of authority,” Victoria said.

I looked up, caught off-guard. “Figures of authority? Fred wasn’t a figure of –”

“He was the Junior Journalist’s club leader,” Victoria explained. “And Elizabeth was her school’s student council president.”

“That’s just a coincidence,” Michael said dismissively. I looked at him closely, wondering what he was thinking.

“I hope it’s not,” Victoria stated flatly. “That means we’ll be able to know who to protect. For example: the two of you could be in danger.”

At the thought of me being targeted by a serial killer sent shivers down my spine. I looked away, trying not to look scared. Come on, Ryan, it’s just conjecture! Victoria had no proof.

Victoria stood up and left without another word. I remained silent, but it was clear that Michael began to notice.

“Hey you,” he said warmly. “You look even more down than before. Still thinking about it?”

“We could be next, Mike,” I whispered.

Michael reached out and quickly rubbed the small of my back. It was just a swift, short gesture, but it felt good. “I’d never let anyone hurt ya.”

I looked back at him and smiled. “And I’d never let anyone hurt you.”


Friday, Mac Worthington High School, 13:45

I caught up to Michael before he went inside Physics class. When I tapped his shoulder, he turned around, noticed it was me and grinned widely.

“Hey there.”

“Michael, I-I want to ask you something …”

Michael tilted his head to the side. “What is it?”

I wanted to ask Michael out … for a date. I know, it wasn’t really wise, especially since I wasn’t sure where we’d go with this. Also, a murderer could be walking on the very streets. I really wanted to be with him, but at the same time, I feared for any kind of relationship we would have.

All my life, I had to think about consequences. It didn’t show on the outside, at least I didn’t think so, but I had this nagging conscience, telling me to think my decisions over. Well, I suppose it couldn’t hurt … after all, it was just a date. Just a simple date, nothing more, nothing less.

My throat kind of went dry at that moment. My palms became sweaty. “Mike, I’d like to … I’d like to, uh, ask you out to dinner … at the Jade Phoenix.”

“Oh, uh … sure, I guess,” Michael said. “But I can’t stay for long, we have to be at the bazaar by seven, remember?”

“Yeah, no problem.”

I guess I must have seemed really insecure, because Michael gave me a gently punch on my shoulder. It was his way of reassuring me.

“Good. I’ll be there at five then.”

He left me with a smile. I was so busy watching him, I didn’t realize a presence beside me. When I turned around, I nearly yelped in surprise.

“Victoria! Personal space, woman,” I told her angrily.

“Are you going to Yuki’s Japanese Culture Bazaar?” she asked me directly.

I nodded. “Yeah, I guess. Why?”

“Don’t let Michael and Yuki out of your sight then.”

She walked away, leaving me with that cryptic message. And then it hit me – she was talking about the Gunner’s targets. Only two people had been murdered so far, but it scared me to death that I could be next. It scared me even more to know that Michael was also a target.


Friday, the Jade Phoenix, 17:09

The restaurant wasn’t very packed, but in an hour or so, it’d be full of customers. In an hour or so, the smell wafting from steam baskets would saturate the entire place. It was nice to know that the Jaded Phoenix attracted a lot of the residents in town and my family never had to worry about finance and my future and Anna’s. It wasn’t as if we had money growing on trees in our backyard, but we were better off than quite a few other people.

Unfortunately, that kind of left my parents working a lot every day. I barely see my father nowadays and that kind of left me wanting some affection. I mean, I didn’t mind being independent, but Anna and I … sometimes we needed more parental interaction.

Michael was dressed neatly, but not overly formal. A plain white polo shirt, jeans (again) and new-looking sports styled shoes. They looked nice on him. As for me, I was just wearing black cargo pants, a yellow shirt and a hoodie. I’ve been to the restaurant so many times I just couldn’t be bothered wearing better clothing to the place anymore.

“Hey buddy,” he called me as I neared his table.

I sat down opposite of him, my eyes glued to his face. “Hi Michael.”

“So, are we going to eat?” he asked eagerly, rubbing his hands in anticipation.

I began to wonder whether the source of the restaurant’s success came from Michael’s pocket.

We made small talk before the food began coming in streams. For most of the meal, all I heard was Michael guzzling down food like he hadn’t eaten for days. It was kind of distracting, but I thought he sort of looked cute, wolfing down his meal like that. There was a smudge of sauce on the side of his mouth.

“So, do you always eat like this?” I asked slowly, cringing as he swallowed a dumpling whole.

He shrugged and grinned. “I just have fast metabolism.”

“I can see that,” I remarked, unable to take my eyes off the empty steam baskets piled high next to him.

“So, you think Victoria was right?” he asked between mouthfuls of spring rolls. “You know – about the murderer targeting leader-types.”

“God, I hope she’s wrong.”

Victoria’s words echoed in the back of my mind. Yuki and Michael could be in danger … I glanced around at the Jaded Phoenix’s sea-green painted walls. What if the Gunner targeted only the people who attended last week’s fateful meeting? Was Yuki in the meeting too? I think she was …

“You don’t think I could be next, do you?” I mumbled half-heartedly.

Michael reached out with a free hand and held my left hand. He looked at me with an intense, determined gaze.

“Not gonna happen.”

I sighed, looked back and gave him a quick smile. When he finally let go of my hand, my hand felt cold. There was something about Michael that just … warmed you.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw my dad watching us. He had this scrutinizing look on his face – had he seen that small gesture, when Michael held my hand? He quickly looked away and began busying himself with receipts. I kind of died a little inside. I silently began thinking about what he would say when he found out his son was gay. I managed to convince myself that it was nothing to worry about ... at least for now.

We finally finished dinner and I called the waiter to get my dad to handle the payment. That was a privilege that I got – it was pretty handy when your parents owned a restaurant. Michael and I didn’t have to pay a cent.


Friday, Japanese Culture Bazaar, 19:01

I’ve never seen Uncle Bob’s old outdoor café that packed before. It was located in one of the quieter streets in town, so seeing all those lights and cars was a surprise to me. It was like a theme park or something.

“Wow, I guess it’s pretty successful,” Michael commented as we climbed out of his car.

We made our way through the maze of cars parked precariously close together. There were a lot of voices and other noises, like arcade games or something. Then there was the smell of something cooking.

“I thought there were only four of you in the club,” I mentioned.

“Yeah, but Yuki’s family was helping out too. She has like, twenty cousins or something.”

When we got to entrance, the sight was amazing. Stalls selling food, accessories and even clothes lined the place like walls, creating this illusion of a maze. Carts of Japanese books and comics were together at one side while arcade game machines were set up at the far end of the café.

A black-haired girl dressed in a pink kimono a little too large for her came up to us.

“Michael! You’re half an hour late!” she shrieked. “Where were you?”

“You’ve been doing fine without me, Yuki,” Michael laughed, gesturing at all the customers.

Yuki was a small girl and she was even shorter than I was. She was pretty and fair-skinned – I guess I could tell why Michael liked her. She had tough, fierce eyes, though. She kind of reminded me of a tiger cub.

“Go and get changed quickly,” Yuki said in a commanding voice. “Meanwhile, I’ll show our customer around.”

It took me a while to realize that she was talking about me. Michael grinned at me before heading off towards another direction.

“I’ll see you later, buddy,” he called back and disappeared.

“You must be Ryan,” Yuki said, extending her hand.

I took the hand and immediately regretted it. I winced as she practically nearly broke all of the bones in my right hand.

“Mike’s told me quite a bit about you,” Yuki explained, showing me around the bazaar. What had Michael told her?

“Oh,” was all I could say.

“Don’t worry, we’re not together anymore,” Yuki said, giving me a little smile. “You do know he has a thing for Asians, right?”

“I kind of figured that out already.”

Yuki laughed and shrugged. “Well, you’ll get to know him better.” Then she added, almost fondly, “He’s a nice kid.”

All around the bazaar, I saw a few kids from Mac Worthington and a few strangers too. The place really seemed festive and the heat coming off from a nearby stall was nearly overwhelming.

“Takoyaki,” Yuki told me. “Fried octopus in a … pancake like dough thing.”

“I never liked tentacles,” I said absently. I suddenly remembered my dream about the giant noodle monster. Damn it, why do I still remember that?

“Octopuses have arms, not tentacles,” Yuki corrected.

“What’s the difference?”

“I don’t know. They're just different.”

A familiar smug face passed by in front of us. Artie stopped when he spotted us and raised his eyebrows.

“Hey look, those two are sleeping while standing up!”

“Shut up, you racist bastard!” Yuki screamed. “Get out of my sight before I kick you out, asshole!”

Artie gave the both of us a sneer and escaped before he drew more of Yuki’s wrath.

“I shouldn’t have let him come here,” Yuki spat.

“Yes, you shouldn’t have,” I said, still seething from Artie’s remark.

Someone tapped me on the shoulder and I spun around to see who it was. It was Michael, all dressed in some kind of black Japanese robe thing ... What? I don’t know anything about Japanese culture – I’m Chinese, not Japanese. And I'm terrible at fashion.

“How do I look?”

“You look very handsome,” I said, unable to help myself.

“Michael, you show Ryan around, okay?” Yuki said. “I have to make sure Emma doesn’t discover my grandmother’s secret soup recipe.”

When Yuki left, Michael wrapped an arm over my shoulder and began walking me to different places. All the while, he was explaining and talking.

“Did you know, according to a Japanese legend, there was more than one sun in the sky?”

“We wouldn’t be alive if there was more than one in the sky,” I commented.

Michael let out a laugh. “Yeah, that’s true.”

We were interrupted when we heard several people gasp and in what sounded like sympathetic pain. The two of us turned around to see what the commotion was about.

On a large stage in the middle of the bazaar, an old man was rolling on the stage clutching his crotch in pain. There was a grimace of pain on the faces of the audience.

“What happened?” I asked, slightly worried.

“It was Yuki’s idea,” Michael said, chuckling. “She wanted to recreate a Japanese game show. I swear, those shows are brutal. That old man there failed to answer a question properly and got hit in the family jewels by a … oh God, is that a bowling ball?!”

I strode over to a large banner that looked like it had a list of the prizes to be won. A photo of a giant octopus plushy was framed by the most colors. It was the text next to it that caught my attention.

Win Darkie, the giant octopus plushy, who has the nickname of Tentacles of the Dark! He’s the cause of many mysterious disappearances at sea …

That sounded too close to be coincidental. And then I remembered what Yuki had said earlier. Octopuses don’t have tentacles, they have arms.


Octopuses don’t have tentacles – they have arms! Tentacles of the Dark – Arms of the Dark. Arms of darkness!

The next one will die in the multiple arms of darkness.

I spun around and held Michael by the shoulders and began shaking him violently.

“Ryan! What’s up, buddy?”

“Holy shit, Mike! This octopus plushy … its nickname is ‘Tentacles of the Dark’!”

“So?” he said, looking at me like I was crazy.

“Yuki said that octopuses don’t have tentacles, they have arms!”

“What’s the difference?”

I suddenly became restless. “Michael, arms of darkness! Arms of darkness!”

A few seconds later, Michael’s eyes widened in realization. “Oh crap.”

I had a sudden case of verbal diarrhea. “Where’s Yuki? We need to find her, she could be in danger. Maybe she still has that plushy, maybe the one who’s got that plushy is in danger …”

We both began looking around wildly. Michael suddenly pulled me by the arm towards a nearby stall, where I spotted Emma’s large figure.

“Oh, hi guys,” Emma said, spinning around to greet us. “What’s wrong? You two look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

“Emma, have you seen Yuki?” Michael asked.

Emma paused and appeared to think. “Um … she said she had to get something from her dad’s van. Why?”

“Do you know where it is?”

“On the way here, I saw it parked over at the edge of the parking lot,” Emma explained. She narrowed her eyes at us in suspicion. “Seriously, what’s wrong with you two?”

“Come on, Ryan,” Michael said, yanking me away. I could feel Emma’s eyes staring holes at us.

Michael practically dragged me towards the exit. When we got there, I spotted Yuki’s kimono-dressed figure at the far end, opening the back of her van.

The two of us practically sprinted towards it. We were breathless by the time we reached it and Yuki appeared to be safe.

“Yuki!” Michael called out.

A yelp of surprise came from the van. Yuki’s face popped out from the back of the van, looking at us with that fierce stare of hers.

“Oh, you two. You scared me. What’s up?”

Michael looked at me, apparently confused. At least Yuki was safe.

“We were wondering about the prize of that game show,” I panted. Now that we knew Yuki was safe, what should we do now?

“Oh, that,” Yuki muttered. She climbed out of the van, carrying an open cardboard box filled with what looked like candy. “If you’re trying to win Darkie, you’re too late. Somebody got him already.”

“Who won Darkie?” Michael asked, still breathless.

“You guys look terrible,” Yuki commented. She procured a lollipop covered in a green wrapper and offered it to us. “Here, have this. It’s wasabi-flavored.”

Michael shook his head and pushed the candy away. “Yuki, we’re not joking! Somebody could be in danger!”

Yuki put the candy back into the box and narrowed her eyes at us. “Is this … is this about the Gunner?”

“Yes, it is,” Michael said. “We had a clue and we think that whoever might have won Darkie could be the one who’s going to be murdered.”

Going to be murdered?” Yuki repeated, raising her eyebrows. “How do you guys know –”

“Yuki,” I interjected, “this is serious. Please, tell us who won the plushy. It’s important.”

Yuki bit her lip and looked away, deep in thought. “Uh … I don’t really remember but … oh! I think I know. I think Sharon won Darkie. It wasn’t too long ago, probably just before you arrived.”

“Sharon?” I asked. “Isn’t that –”

Michael looked at me, his eyes filled with fear. “Sharon’s the Head Cheerleader.”

Fuck. Was Victoria right? Was the Gunner truly targeting the heads and leaders of our school’s club? Why?

“Where did she go?” Michael asked, turning back to Yuki.

“She said she was about to go home, just when I left to get these candies. You can still catch up to her if you run – I think she went towards the opposite direction.”

Yuki pointed at the road behind us. It was quiet and dimly lit and there was nothing there but rows of vehicles.

Michael nodded. “Okay. Thanks, Yuki – go back to the bazaar, all right?”

“No wait!” Yuki called out, grabbing me by the arm before I could leave. “I’m coming with you.”

“Yuki, it’s dangerous,” I said, pulling my arm away from her. “We’ll –”

I stopped when I heard a frightful shriek, followed by a loud bang going off in the distance. It was too loud, like a … gunshot. I heard Yuki scream and Michael yelp in surprise. I felt frozen in place. My knees began to turn to jelly.

We were too late.


Friday, James Street, 20:00

I didn’t know what to do. I was scared, confused, lost – what had happened just now?

I heard Yuki’s fearful voice behind me. “Guys … was that …”

“Fuck!” Michael gritted out. “Y-you think that Sharon –”

“No,” I said, surprised that I still had my voice. “No, we can’t think that. What should we do?”

“Maybe we can find her,” Michael suggested. “And, maybe that wasn’t a gunshot, maybe it was just something loud.”

“Mike, I’ve never heard something like that before,” I told him. “That had to be a gunshot. That was way too loud to be anything else.”

“Let’s not be pessimistic,” Michael said, grabbing my hand and pulling me with him. I heard Yuki’s footsteps behind us.

We wove our way through the maze of cars, getting closer to where we had heard the noise from. All three of us were quiet – I could feel the fear radiating from the two of them. And then I heard footsteps, getting louder and closer to us – someone was running.

When I spun around, somebody literally crashed into me. I stumbled back from the force of the collision, nearly tripping over and falling on Yuki.


“Oh my God!” the person cried out. “Oh God, you guys –”

“Sharon?” I heard Michael’s voice.

I regained my balance and took a look at Sharon. Her blonde hair had been disheveled by the wind and tears were streaming down her red cheeks. The look of wild fright in her eyes was beyond anything I could imagine. She must have seen something so frightening …

“Oh my God!” she sobbed. “Oh God, I ran as quickly as I could and –”

I reached out and held her shoulders, trying to calm her shaking body. “Sharon, calm down.”

“Somebody tried to kill me!” Sharon cried out.

I turned to Michael, who was looking dazed. “Mike, we have to call the police.”

“Way ahead of you,” I heard Yuki say behind me as she whipped out her phone.


Friday, James Street, 20:19

In just minutes, the road was filled with onlookers and police officers. Michael and I were sitting down on the edge of the road, watching Sheriff Elise question Sharon.

“Did you happen to see who it was?”

Sharon shook her head. She still looked frightened beyond compare, but she seemed to have calmed down a little. “It was really dark and I only saw them from the reflection of my car’s window.”

“You couldn’t tell who it was at all?”

“No, Sheriff. I sprinted away as fast as I could and then the bullet hit Darkie.”

“Darkie? Who’s that?”

“The doll that I won from the game at the bazaar.”

A large burly policeman came up to Elise and handed her a large, black thing with tentacles. It must have been Darkie – the side of the octopus’s head had a conspicuous hole in it and the stuffing was falling out.

“Is this it?” Elise asked, showing the plushy to Sharon, who nodded.

I heard someone walk up behind us.

“How did you two know?” Yuki asked. She sounded calm, despite the sudden turn of events.

“It’s kind of complicated,” Michael explained. “We had a few clues … from Victoria.”

Speak of the devil and he shall come. I saw Victoria, wearing a black dress, walking up towards us from the distance. She was still carrying that creepy doll – Cynthia, I think its name was. What was she doing here?

“That was close,” she said. She looked even scarier tonight.

“So Sharon was supposed to be the next victim,” I told her. “I guess you were right about the murderer targeting leader-type people.”

Victoria tilted her head to the side. “What? I don’t think Sharon was supposed to be next. I think Yuki was supposed to be next.”

“Yeah, thanks for that comforting thought,” Yuki said sarcastically as she sat next to me.

“I’m serious.”

“Victoria, why didn’t we see you in the bazaar?” I asked.

“I was there. I had my hands full trying to stop Artie from grilling Cynthia,” Victoria explained glumly, showing me Cynthia’s bottom which was burnt black. She sighed and walked away.

Sheriff Elise came up to us. The policewoman gave us a questioning look and folded her arms.

“You two again,” she said. “I hope this is just a coincidence.”

“We’re not the murderers, if that’s what you’re implying,” Michael replied, sounding a bit angry.

Elise nodded and gave us a small smile. “No, I don’t think you are. It’s just that … you two seem to know more than you let us in.”

“We don’t know anything else,” Michael said quickly. “We just happened to be at the right place at the right time, that’s all.”

“Okay, Mr. Hill,” the Sheriff said, raising her arms. “There’s no need to be defensive. Just tell me if you notice anything else that’s strange, all right?”

Michael stood up and began walking away. He seemed to be fine, but I sensed that something was amiss. Yuki nudged me and told me to follow him, so I did.

I followed him wordlessly for a few minutes. When we got back to the bazaar, which was almost deserted already (everyone had gathered near the police cars), Michael turned around. He had a strange, undecipherable look on his face.

“Something you want to talk about?” I asked him.

I was caught off guard when he suddenly pulled me towards him and kissed me deeply on the mouth. I didn’t have time to breathe or anything so I kind of struggled a little in his grasp. When he finally let go, I gasped.

“Okay,” I said, leaning against him. “So, what was up with that?”


“Do you have something against the Sheriff?”

“It’s nothing to worry about.”

I looked up at him. His eyes were closed. “You sure?”


“Well, at least we kind of saved a life, right?” I said, holding him tighter. His body felt stiff and I could tell that something was still on his mind.

“I don’t think it’s going to end here, buddy. I don’t want to sound like this, but I really don’t think the Gunner’s just going to stop.”

“I know,” I told him. “Should we go talk to Victoria about what to do next?”

“Yeah … I mean, I don’t trust her, but she’s been right all along. She knows a bit too much, don’t you think?”

Copyright © 2011 MarkSen; All Rights Reserved.
  • Like 4
Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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Yay, I got to another chapter. I can't say how much I'm enjoying this story. Well paced, great suspense, LOVE the mystery big time, and it has just the right amount of splash of romance too.


This is gonna be a hit, I'm sure.


Thanks soooo much for writing and posting here.


I will try to get to the next chapters soon. Just got a long list of 'to dos', :P



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So we have a who done it with a list of suspects. We can scratch Yuki, Michael and Ryan form the list. Victoria is still suspect, but that seems rather obvious. SO this is one of those, she obvious so you wouldn't do it, but if no one thinks the obvious did it, have the obvious one do it isn't so obvious? :blink: Which is a convoluted way of saying good job ;)


Now let's see who knows about Ryan and Michael - Yuki for sure, Nicole probably - Victoria for sure, Dad - maybe but probably. Hmmm not much of a secret it is? Then again Ryan wasn't very discrete in asking when someone was around. Ah young love, so easy to get wrapped up you make a mistake :P

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