Jason made his way to work, umbrella protecting him from the rain. Each step was a splash of water. His reflection was disturbed as he trampled a puddle. As he looked down he could almost see someone else’s reflection. His trench coat swirled behind him in the wind and he struggled to keep his fedora on his head. He lit a cigarette and began letting out puffs of smoke. He felt his muscles relax and his nerves unwind. His dream had done a number on him the night before.
He flicked his cigarette to the ground and stomped it out as he entered his office. He sat down at his desk and ran his finger alone the files in his cabinet. Finally he pulled out his sales figures and slid them across his desk. In a trance-like state, he glazed over the figures trying to find the correct paper. A gentle tap on the shoulder greeted him. Jason turned around to meet his boss.
“Jason” he said “can we talk?”
Jason entered his boss’s office. It had a peculiar smell of fresh paper and ink. Two chairs sat adjacent to his desk, both cushioned. Upon his desk were pictures of his family, a calendar, and numerous papers. His window overlooked Chicago, its lights at the top glowing brightly in the otherwise foggy night.
“Sit down.” his boss said, sternly as he did the same.
Jason’s boss folded his hands and leaned over slightly. Jason could taste the stench of his breath. The moisture crept onto his face and he struggled slightly to maintain his composure.
“Jason, your sales have been dropping for the past month, and I believe it’s in my best interest…”
Jason heard no word of his boss beyond that. His words were drowned out as if he were speaking underwater. Jason’s mind wandered off to another land.
Images flickered across his mind. A Japanese man dressed in red and black sailed over the rooftops of a village. A katana was gripped tightly in hand as he sprinted across and dove to each target. A sheath hung on his back and bobbed up and down as he ran. Finally, the prey met his quarry, and swooped down from the night. His moves were swift and decisive. The sound of metal scraping flesh pierced the night. What started as ten foes soon dwindled down to three. Three soon dwindled down to two, which dwindled down to one.
He pressed his katana against his neck, threatening to slice it open. The man leaned in close as he spoke his next words.
“The Red Fox sends his regards.” He was a powerful speaker, taking command of the situation. “You murdered a man.” he told the criminal. “You and your friends think you can get away with that?” he hissed slightly, as he paused for his next sentence. “You’re an animal…and rabid animals get put down.” He raised his katana and was about to strike when—
“JASON!” his boss snapped. “ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME? I SAID YOUR FIRED! PACK YOUR THINGS! GET OUT OF HERE!”
Jason trudged home in the rain. Lightning flashed overhead. He thought to cut through an alleyway to make it home faster. Despite a voice in his head telling him it was a bad idea, he pressed onward.
Within a few minutes he had realized his mistake. Three hoodlums stepped out of the shadows. One brandishing a knife and the others brandishing guns.
All at once, Jason knew what to do. With instinct he never had before, he threw his box of belongings at the two men with guns. Their momentary distraction served as time to strike. He lashed out like a snake, ramming his fist into a hoodlum’s jaw with the force of a baseball bat. He threw a roundhouse kick with power from training he had never received before.
The next man was taken down just as quick, with nerve strikes to his arm to stop the gun from going off, and more strikes to other clusters of nerves to incapacitate him.
The last hoodlum lashed out with his knife, going for a clean swipe which was quickly avoided. Jason grabbed the man’s arm and used his momentum to send him crashing to the ground. He twisted the arm which broke it.
All was silent. Jason had no idea what just happened. He had never taken a self defense class in his life, yet he was able to take down three armed opponents. Thoughts raced through his mind as the rain poured down his face. He ran his fingers through his hair then shook them dry. Panic struck quickly, and he grabbed his fedora and rushed out of the alleyway.
On a secluded island, a man sat on a throne. His body was old and wrinkled, yet he remained vibrant despite age sapping his once great strength. His hand was long and bony gripped his arm rest tightly as his subjects entered the room.
“What it your news?” he hissed. His voice was like nails on a chalkboard.
“We have found the new Red Fox.”
“Excellent.” he hissed. “Did you kill him?”
At that moment, the men started to quiver. “He…dispatched our men, sir.”
The old man let out a gut wrenching groan, and snapped up from his throne. “BRING ME HIS HEAD!” he cried, his voice echoing throughout the room. “I WANT HIM DEAD!”
He sat down again quite slowly, and let out a sight as he leaned back.
“You know of our feud…he must die before he discovers his true self…”
He closed his eyes and smiled at the thought of his hated rival dead.
“He must die before he can create the potion…"