Taro dodged under the wheels of the wagon, narrowly avoiding getting flattened beneath the massive wooden structure. But he didn't stop running. Sweat was running down his forehead by the bucketload and his breath was coming in short, ragged gasps. His mind was awhirl with questions, all crowding inside his head and screaming for answers. How had he been recognised? Why were they looking for him? Did they know where he was? Had they already tracked him down? These and hundreds of others whizzed through the shattered remains of Taro's consciouss thoughts as he forced his aching limbs to run on. Adrenaline pumped through his system and his dark grey eyes were wide as saucers as he continued his flight through the streets.
Eventually he reached the door of the derelict building and, throwing his entire weight against the door, forced it open and, ignoring the startled cry from the doorman, shot up the stairs like a bullet and came screeching to a halt just before he crashed into Bingo. Bingo yelped in surprise as Taro cannoned into the room, watching him as he tried desperately to catch his breath.
"The marketplace... poster... looking for me... going to kill me... ran away..."
Taro scarcely managed to get the words out in his panic. He looked pleadingly at Bingo, begging him to help him. He must know what to do, he always knows what to do. Bingo, however, simply stood there, looking at Taro with a faintly amused expression on his face.
"Ah. I was hoping you wouldn't see that. Oh dear, that does complicate things a bit doesn't it."
Taro gaped at him in confusion. What was he saying? What did he mean "complicate things"? Did Bingo know something he didn't?
"What do you mean? They're after me, what am I going to do?"
Taro was close to tears, his terror getting the better of him. Yet still Bingo just stood there, looking bemused and chewing his lip absent-mindedly. Eventually he sighed and spoke, looking further back into the room.
"Better take him now, before things get any more complicated."
Taro opened his mouth to question him but soon felt himself siezed by the shoulders and dragged to his feet. He yelped in alarm and looked to Bingo for help.
Then realisation hit him like a bucketful of cold water.
Bingo had betrayed him. He'd squealed to the authorities. Taro wanted to scream in fury. How could he betray him, after all he'd done! He'd risked his neck for Bingo a thousand times and this was how he was repayed.
"Traitor!" he screeched "you foul, sneaking, back-stabbing, rat! What was my price eh Bingo? Gold perhaps? Absolution from arrest? Go on, what did you sell me for?"
Bingo smiled nastily and held up a handful of glinting silver coins:
"Sorry Taro, but business is business. I really do hate to do this, but hey, that's life. Goodbye now, have a nice life!"
As the theif was dragged from the room, still struggling and swearing as he went, Bingo turned and looked out of the window. A cold smile appeared on his pale lips and a nasty glint lit his eye.
"Yes," he said softly, "enjoy your life Taro. Or what's left of it anyway."