The round boar man ran one meaty paw over his sweaty and sparse facial hair and spoke. His accent was something vaguely familiar, yet exotic enough to remain out of Smarty's grasp of understanding, “Okay, let's start easy, yeah? What is your name?”


One of the unseen guards hit him from behind and buckled his knee, dropping Smarty heavily to the floor, whereupon the burly man holding his zip ties returned him none-too-gently to his feet. The Boar sprayed spittle from his chin as he barked, “Do not lie to me! What is your name?”

Smarty groaned, “I told you, man. What the hell was that for?”

Your name?” Piggy asked again.

Ugh. Smarty,” Smarty said, with his eyes on the man who had struck him in expectation of another blow.

It did not come. The fat man merely nodded and removed dirt from one of his neck creases with a gold letter opener, “All right. Doesn't matter anyway. Who hired you?”

Uh...” Smarty wildly wished he could have answered with the truth to dissuade any further blows to his leg, but the truth was he really didn't know. Jay was the leader and everything had gone through him. Smarty and Techie were simply the specialists.

Right,” the fat piggy man said, as if he had expected nothing less, “how many of you are there?”

How many?”

On the island,” Piggy clarified.

Oh. Uh...” suddenly Smarty's new All-Honesty policy was in question. There had been three of them at the beginning of the night, mostly because Jay had decided that a small trio of them would be easier than a cadre of armed mercenaries. They weren't storming the island, after all. But Jay was most likely dead and Techie... well, who the hell knew what had happened to Techie. Sweat now freely coursed down Smarty's face and congealed behind his sideburns. The guard who had hit him looked hopefully at the butt of his gun, ready to put it to action again. Smarty easily imagined that gun stock covered in his blood and he swallowed hard.

Well, you see... Um --”

It's a relatively straightforward question, Mr. Smarty.”

It's not 'Mister,'” Smarty corrected, “just Smarty.”

The gun butt buried itself into his midsection and Smarty dropped again. It may have been aimed for his groin, but the impact with his right hip ignited a bright kaleidoscope of pain behind Smarty's eyes. Close enough.

Again he was jerked back to his feet.

Is it ten men?” Piggy asked.


The fat man's nearly absent eyebrows raised in surprise, “More?”

Smarty was a thief, he had magical fingers which were trained to make love to impregnable safes of every kind and get them to open for him. He was delicate, he was subtle. He was not cut out for torture and he knew it. He also knew he was failing badly and about thirty seconds from taking a bullet to the head. Panic flooded his mind with all kinds of verbal sewage, but what tumbled from his mouth was, “So, what is the girl's name?”

A smile cut an ugly swath across those pudgy lips. He replied, simply, “Kumiko.”

The End

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