The Red Fan

It was a sweltering hot night in Tokyo. The humidity was ferocious, and his wet shirt clung to his back. The evening sky was the colour of burnt orange – dust from distant lands, whipped up into the atmosphere.

He'd had too much sake. It wasn't intentional. More of a tool really, to help with the unease he felt in the presence of his boss and coworkers. Much as he wished he could be the attention-grabbing comedian, it was never going to happen. And now that the business dinner was over, he could be alone again. Relief flooded through him.

Until he looked up and saw the luminous, neon lights all around him were burring, sliding and multiplying.

He paused, one hand on the still-warm concrete wall of the restaurant, sucking in dust-filled lungfuls of air, trying to stop his mind from spinning.

'Are you OK?'

He turned around, and there she was. She had to be at least seven feet tall. With skin painted as white as the moon, she peered at him from over the edges of a large, red paper fan. Her head was perfectly bald. Round and smooth. Her eyes were like glittering black gems, fixed on his face. He glanced up the street behind him, and then back at her again. No one else – not one of the people in the crowds that bustled past, belied any signs of being able to see her...

Pearl

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