Abruptly, Keiko felt as if her head had been sucked through a straw. Her world inverted and folded, and when it stopped, she found herself standing in the dining room of their California house. A calendar tacked to a door showed the year, 1942, and as usual, her mother had neatly crossed off the days until Sunday, February twenty-second. A very young Keiko and her older sister were clearing the table when the doorbell rang. Curious, she poked her head out into the foyer. Her father stood with his back to her, confronting two big men in long raincoats and wide-brimmed hats.
“FBI,” the man in front of Matsuda proclaimed. He flashed a badge and shoved his way inside. “You need to come with us—your family too.” He thrust a letter forward and waved it importantly. “It’s all in here.” Snapping his fingers, he sent the second man into the house.
Matsuda stepped in front of them, tall, lean, and imposing. “You don’t want to do this.” Though his tone remained neutral, his hands shook with rage.
Keiko had never seen him so angry. His dark eyes smoldered, and some unseen power rippled just beneath his skin like a coiling snake. She shrank back. The man was her father, and yet he seemed like a stranger.
Apparently, the agents hadn’t felt the danger. They simply reacted to Matsuda’s rage as if accustomed to resistance. The first man moved to block the door, while the other put his hand into his coat and drew out a revolver. The bright sheen of its barrel dimmed as he lifted it, and by the time it was even with Matsuda’s eyes, it looked hopelessly corroded.
Stunned, the agent turned the gun over in his hand and stared at it in disbelief. Something about the movement bothered Keiko. It looked labored, unnatural. She was about to examine the man’s hand more closely when his screams pulled her eyes back. Whatever happened to the gun had worked its way up the man’s arm. Worn patches appeared all over his sleeve, his torso shrank into his suit, his head shriveled and wrinkled, and his once muscular legs gave out beneath him. By the time he hit the floor, he looked like a mummy in a fashionable, albeit, threadbare suit.
Keiko tottered and slumped against the wall with a soft thud. Shock numbed her, she shook violently, and a terrified wail built in her chest. She clamped a hand over her mouth so they wouldn’t hear her.
Out in the hall, the surviving man backed away from his fallen colleague. “What the hell?” Wide-eyed, he waved his hands at Matsuda, who now strode toward him. “Stay away from me! Don’t come any closer!”
Ignoring the threat, Matsuda stepped up to the man and lifted his fist. The letter lay crinkled within, blue light swirling around it. The man stared transfixed in terror, unable to look away from the body. Not even the burning paper distracted him. He screamed.
“Keiko-chan!” Matsuda said over the man’s wailing.
He knew she was there. How did he know without looking?
“Tell your mother I’m going to Miami for a few days. I’ll be back as soon as I can. Until then, let no one into the house. Do you understand? No one.” His head came about and his eyes held her. A strange periwinkle light glowed around his irises, and Keiko almost shrank away. An encouraging smile broke the spell. “I have to ensure our safety. It won’t take long, a few days at most.”
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