Part 19: Jack
content warning: physical assault, human trafficking, gun violence
[BGM: My Mexican Guitar Gently Weeps]
There was a quiet street in Hong Kong.
There was a quieter alley on that quiet street.
At the end of the alley, there was a coffee shop with a sign in the shape of a maple leaf.
Inside the shop sat its owner, who had a peculiar taste in clothes, at least in the opinion of many.
I still vividly remembered the first time I had met him.
He was wearing a pair of red high heels, a pair of skintight black leather pants, and a lavish, fluffy fur coat.
He had always told us to call him Mama.
He still identified as a man, but preferred dressing as a woman.
We all make our own choices, and he understood more than most that being different need not lead to loneliness.
Mama had saved my life.
Not only had he saved me when I was being harrassed by a pervert, he even let me work in his coffee shop.
And he paid me three thousand Hong Kong dollars a month.
It wasn't much in Hong Kong, but I got to live in the coffee shop, so that I could save up most of my salary and send it back to my brother back in Mexico. I hoped it could help pay for school.
There were a few other misfits like me who Mama had taken under his wing-----
Hang, who could never tell ketchup apart from jalapeno sauce.
Raja, who couldn't help singing whenever he picked up a goblet.
Jack, who would always wipe the table twice.
We all had different colored skin, and we didn't speak each other's languages, but we had all been learning from each other as well.
We would often talk to each other in English, Cantonese, Mandarin, and Spanish all at once. Miraculously, we usually managed to understand each other pretty well. We always had a great time together.
We shared the same bedroom, with two bunk beds. Jack slept on my top bunk, and Hang and Raja slept in the other one.
Jack was only 15. He had curly blond hair and a pair of clear blue eyes.
Carlos was a few years younger than him. When we had been in the orphanage, he and I slept in a bunk bed like this too.
That was why I liked to stare at the top bunk before I fell asleep, and imagine that it was a 15-year-old Carlos sleeping up there.
However, the peaceful days did not last for too long.
Only Jack and I were in the shop that day.
He had just taken the trash out the back door. Moments later, I heard the muffled sound of fighting and yelling in the back.
I ran out of the back door and saw a couple of tall, strong men pinning Jack to the ground, tying his hands and feet behind his back.
Jack's lips were bleeding and he seemed to be unconscious.
I wanted to run back upstairs to find Raja. I knew he was sleeping in the bedroom.
But before I could, someone had caught me from behind.
Then my face was covered with a foul smelling piece of wet cloth...
[BGM: No Escape from Here]
When I woke up, it was already deep into the night. Jack and I were locked inside what seemed to be a small warehouse.
Jack woke up at almost the same time as me.
We both looked out of the window, and we could see the blinking neon lights of a busy Melody Hall.
If I remembered correctly, there was an auction house opposite Melody Hall.
Mama used to tell us that the auction house on this street was not really legitimate.
Legendary paintings that had gone missing.
Rare ore that had been illegally smuggled in.
The frozen sperm of dead movie stars.
Ancient mummies of an undetermined age.
Even exotic looking young boys and girls. As long as there was a buyer, there was nothing they wouldn't sell.
We couldn't stay here.
I had been through this once. This time, I felt calm.
I had to get myself out of here, and I would take Jack with me too.
There was only one guard in the hallway.
I slammed on the door to get him to come over. I told him that Jack had stopped breathing.
He didn't think too much of it, perhaps because he thought we were just a couple of kids.
So he opened the door and crouched down next to Jack, who was playing dead.
When he reached out to feel Jack's breath, I pulled the gun out of his waistband and pushed it against the back of his head.
Then, we gagged his mouth, tied his hands and feet behind him, and locked him inside the room before we snuck downstairs.
We didn't run into anybody on our way down to the reception desk.
Just when I was about to celebrate our good fortune,
someone yelled at us from behind.
I turned around and saw a sleepy man who was holding a mug.
He rubbed his eyes and slammed the mug onto the reception desk when he saw our faces.
The alarm went off. I grabbed Jack's hand and we started running towards the port as fast as we could.
Four, maybe five guys came after us from the auction house.
There were lots of warehouses and small roads near the port that made up a complex maze. We had to play cat-and-mouse with our chasers before we could find a secure hiding place.
At the southwest corner of the port there was a recycling center.
The center had a fenced-in lot that had piles of garbage in it.
Only a couple of overtime workers were operating the crane. They would lift a dumpster high up and then dump everything into the lot.
There were many extra large dumpsters outside the lot.
Jack and I had split up earlier, and I waved at Jack from a distance to come over.
The dumpster was empty.
Stop hiding! We saw you!
I'm over here! I tried to draw attention to myself.
They opened the cover of the dumpster.
I walked out from the cargo container not too far behind them.
I tried to distract them.
However, they had already opened the dumpster cover and seen Jack hiding inside.
They didn't tie us up, to avoid attracting too much attention. Instead, they surrounded us and marched us towards the auction house.
If we didn't follow their orders, the guns in their waistbands would make us regret it.
I fell into a deep despair.
Jack must have been so frightened, too.
I looked at him. But for a moment I thought I must have been mistaken. I thought I had just caught him smiling.
We were close enough to see the auction house, when one of the guards' phones rang.
Everyone was temporarily distracted by the phone, including me.
But a gunshot interrupted the ringing. A guard had already fallen down. A bullet had just gone through his head.
Jack had just shot him with a smile on his face.
He had somehow taken a gun from one of the guards.
He then turned around and shot the second guard right in his chest.
He didn't waste any of the bullets. It was almost like magic.
Soon, all five guards were lying on the ground.
Jack looked at me with a casual expression on his face.
Alicia, let's get out of here.
I was still in shock at what had just happened. And before I could say Okay-
I heard another gunshot from farther away,
and then a splashing sound nearby.
Jack dropped to his knees and then slowly collapsed.
Bright red liquid was oozing out from a small hole in the middle of his forehead.
The young man with the mug was standing behind us at a distance.
Only this time, he was carrying a gun instead of a mug.
He started walking slowly towards us.
I held my hands to my head and dropped to the ground, sobbing.
Heavenly Father... why on earth would you let this happen to us... what... what have we done wrong?!
There's only a handful of other outcomes besides the default, and this is another 'every outcome except the S is a Bad ending' section, so let's just get to it.
For starters, let's move Alicia revealing herself to draw attention to the front and see what that changes.
Here you are! Get out if you want to live!
Five guns were pointed at our heads.
We had no choice but to climb out of the dumpster and follow them back to the auction house.
What was going to happen to us?
The answer is literally nothing, just that they're together when they're found. We have to change something else too.
Maybe changing when the dumpster was empty will help?
We huddled together inside the dumpster and held each other's hand.
It stank around us, but we couldn't care less. We were only praying that we wouldn't get discovered by the men outside.
It reminded me of the time when my parents were killed.
Carlos and I had been hiding inside of a small closet that felt just like this dumpster.
My 3-year-old brother was still asleep. He didn't even notice what had been going on outside.
But I witnessed my parents being gunned down through the gap between the closet doors...
Damn it, where are those bastards?!
A curse pulled me back from my memories.
Fortunately, their voices seemed to be moving away from us.
But before long, the dumpster started to shake.
It seemed to be moving.
And then it tilted-----
We were dumped out of it, along with the other trash, and fell onto the piles of garbage on the lot of the recycling center.
'Over there! They're over there! The girl with the purple dress! I saw her!'
We were discovered.
Then we were captured before we could run too far. We were brought back to the auction house.
What was going to happen to us?
It was a nice try, but unfortunately it failed because the dumpster they hid in wasn't empty. With that, we've seen all the Bad outcomes- now let's get the S ending.
I walked out from behind the cargo container not far away and tried to distract them.
However, they had already opened the dumpster cover.
There's no one inside!
You fool! Go get the girl!
They tied me up again and went back to look for Jack for a long time. They couldn't find him anywhere, though.
In the end, they decided to just take me back first.
[BGM: A Mexican Girl]
On the way, I saw a shadow from the corner of my eye. I looked up.
A huge dumpster had been lifted up and emptied onto the lot of the recycling center.
I also noticed a small body roll out together with the garbage.
None of the guards were aware of it. They never realized the person that they had been looking for was right under their noses.
Jack had always reminded me of my brother. I would often change my shift to the same ones as him.
Unlike Carlos, Jack never talked too much.
However, I would still try to chat with him.
After a while, we started to talk more and more with each other, although he rarely mentioned anything about himself.
Once, I accidentally saw a horrifying burn scar on his back when he was changing.
He must have a story that he didn't want to think about.
Another time, I had asked him what he would like to become when he was older. He pondered for a while, and said,
A policeman, or maybe a doctor.
The look on his face was almost like he had been looking at an ocean of blossoming flowers.
And he had been enchanted by the hypnotizing scent of the flowers.
The warm summer breeze was kissing his exquisite blonde hair, and the glowing sunlight was shining inside his sky blue eyes.
He almost looked like an angel to me at that moment.
I knew he was not just saying that. He had a lot of books.
When he wasn't working, he would always be reading in the bedroom.
Even when he was on a shift, he would sit behind the bar and read when there were not too many customers.
He spent all of his earnings on books.
Although I didn't think one could be a policeman or a doctor through only self-learning, still, I believed that Jack, my little angel, would be able to do it.
Because I believed that if he did his best, his dream would come true.
[BGM: New Life]
NEW MESSAGE: The Longest Class
NEW MESSAGE: Pretty Girl
Profiles have changed.