Tsujigiri – crossroad killing. A Japanese samurai with a new katana to test attacks a random defenceless passer-by at night.
The single track road was dark. Touches of light cast from the houses of the edge of the town kept the night at bay but wasn’t enough to really see by. There was a low murmuring of animals, a dog whined somewhere and horse let out a long neigh. People’s voices faded as the doors of the tea houses shut, leaving only the gentle lapping of water to break the silence.
Hiki sat as if he was a drunk who had fallen asleep by the side of the road. His black helmet with the forked stag like horns on top was pulled low to cover his eyes. The rest of his black lacquer armour was back in his room. Hiki hadn’t needed it for this. Instead, he was dressed in black bellowing robes and saddles which made him fit in more of the town’s people and also the growing night.
At Hiki’s side, laying in the long grass so it was hidden but still in easy reach was his new katana. The sword was unsheathed in preparation and Hiki’s right hand was resting next to the black lacquer handled.
This afternoon when he had received the katana, he had practised with it to make sure the balance was right. Hiki had demanded of the swordsmith that the sword be lighter then normal, so it could almost be wielded in one hand. The blade was to be sharp on both sides and the curve more pronounced. The handle was to be left plain so Hiki could dress it himself and that was going be in the traditional black and white diamond pattern of ribbons.
Firstly though, the katana had to draw it’s first blood and kill it’s first victim. Which was why Hiki was sat outside the town pretending to sleep. He couldn’t fight just anyone for the katana’s first outing. This thing had to be done just right and Hiki had found the perfect setting.
He had been observing the town since he had first arrived and during the wait for the katana to be made. The town was no stranger to samurai and produced good weapons and armour. There was a steady flow of people coming in and out with supplies, even by night they travelled because the roads were free of dangers thanks to the numbers of samurai.
The sounds of cart wheels and a horse clopping along, sent a thrill through Hiki. His fingers twitched towards his katana and held the handled lightly. Trying to remain still was hard but he controlled his breathing and cleared his thoughts. He couldn’t get up too soon, the timing had to be just right.
He peeked out from under his helmet and looked at the patch of road he could see. He didn’t turn his head towards the sound. He knew when he saw the horse come into view that was his signal.
Time seemed to slow, Hiki counted each breath and listened as the horse got closer. Hiki’s hand tightened on the katana, his legs twitched as they got ready for action. Soon, it would be the right moment.
The horse came into view faster then Hiki realised. He shot up, his body that had been laying like a scarecrow coming to life and with the grace of a dancer moving through the darkness. His katana swooshed through the air like falling cherry blossom caught on the wind and the head of the cart man went flying through the air.
Hiki let out the breath he had been holding. The horse cried out, reared in fight and shot down the road. The body of his master slide off the cart’s seat and tumbled into a ditch. Blood dripped down the katana as Hiki lowered it and listened to the sound of the running horse and trundling cart fade.
Slowly, Hiki walked over to the cart man’s head and picked it up by the top knot. The head swung, dripping blood and trails of the inside. Hiki inspected the katana’s work in the dim light and he was satisfied by the cleanness and sharpness of the cut.
(Inspired by; http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com)