In the mansion at the top of the hill we enter a room that smells of freshly baked bread and tea. I salivate as a young woman slices the bread, and wolf on the thick slices as soon as it is placed in front of us. The tea warms my insides.

With my stomach full and my body warm I think of escaping from this place, for the first time since we were kidnapped. Now I understand our captors’ tactics. They have deprived us food and warmth so we can’t think.

Now that my stomach is full, I know I’ll make a run for it if I get a chance.

“Let’s go outside for some target practice,” says Wufen.

At the back of the house, with rifles aimed at back of our heads, we are handed rifles. One bullet is loaded at a time into the weapons. None of us come close to hitting the tree trunks that we are told to aim for. We are terrible shots.

“Good,” says Wufen after an hour. “Now go sleep. We have a long journey in the morning.”

We are woken at dawn and start the journey. Anana and his crew lead us, we are in the middle and another group of armed men is behind us.

I can’t help but get the feeling that we are sacrificial lambs. I now believe that Kapo and Wufen’s plan is to send us into the crime lord’s house first, to test the water, take the bullets. We are nothing but a distraction to the crime lord’s guards.

I look at Matsui, Hinshi and Anton. We are just children. I look at the men in front of us, and behind. They are fit, and know how to shoot. Yesterday was the first time we had ever used guns. And we were terrible at it. I am filled with cold dread.

We are on a boat as the sun rises. Matsui and Hinshi smile.

“It’s been three years since I saw a sunrise,” says Hinshi.

“This land looks beautiful, but it is a dangerous place. These hills are green, fertile, because of all the people they have swallowed,” says Matsui.

“How did the land swallow the people?” I ask.

“There are earthquakes all the time in Japan. Mountains fall on people. The earth breaks and the ocean rushes inland and covers everything.”

“That’s terrible,” I say.

As we talk, distant hum, like a swarm of bees, fills the valley. Anana, Wufen and the rest of the men look around.

“Helicopters!” Wufen barks at the driver of the boat: “Head for the cover of those trees along the bank!”

The driver heads for the trees but the helicopters continue to hover above. They have spotted the boat! My heart is filled with such joy that I want to jump off right then.

But I feel the cold barrel of a gun against the back of my head and remain still.

“Shh. Don’t make a sound. If any of you make a move you will die right now,” Wufen hisses.


Tell us what you think: Is Londi right – that the karatekas are actually ‘sacrificial lambs’, not fighters, in the gangster’s heist plot?