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Amerikano Hiaika, (c) 1990 by Wil McCarthy, Part 4

By midnight, he was back in Americatown. He felt a helpless terror, a sense of certain doom upon his return. And yet, the only place he could go, the only place he could guarantee an encounter with the people who had killed Karen, was back home.

He had lost the manilla envelope in his headlong flight. Probably, he'd left it in Brady's kitchen. His seepee was in there, his personality overlay, his very soul! He was a dead man without it, yet he didn't dare go back. He'd be deader if he went back.

It was war out there. He'd called up Universal Exports, and number six had answered. Number five was dead. Six was in the middle of something, though, and had no time to talk. Nick had tried again a half hour later, but this time he got no answer.

A few hours after that, he'd thrown away the phone on some vague suspicion that they could use it to locate him. The radio said that two rival gangs of gaijin mafia were fighting tonight, all over the city, that at least twenty people had already been killed and more violence was expected.

What was being accomplished here, he wondered. He'd set out to solve a murder, and had ended up committing one. Now murders were happening all over Tokyo, people were dying who would otherwise be alive, who would still be merrily going about their business if it weren't for Nick Tanner. He'd set a lethal domino- chain in motion, and it was still going, cascading its way through the nighttime city. If they weren't his dominoes, was it still his fault?

Was any of it his fault?

Now, he sat huddled in the corner of Billy-chan's room, clutching the gas pistol he'd pleaded for with the last of his cash, waiting for the door to open. He wished he could turn out the lights, but with the advent of true cold fusion the Japanese had found it cheaper to build poor-man's housing without the benefit of off switches. The ceiling glowed with the fitful, eternal light of solid-state fluorescence.

Yes, the dark would be nice. Not only would he be better hidden, better able to take down his enemies without being taken down himself. No, he'd also like it because it would free him from the horrible familiarity, the hominess of the triple-cap. Billy- chan's triple cap. Could it happen so soon? Could Geist's drug- acclimated liver be cleaning out the last of him already?

The door squeaked.

It squealed open, suddenly, and a dark figure appeared in the doorway. He was ready for it, and he shot it. He heard a muted, muffled scream, watched droplets of bright blood patter across the synthami. The figure fell back, but he shot it again, and when it fell out of view he fired at an angle through the wall. He fired again, and again, and once again, until the gun was empty.

Tears welled up in his eyes, streamed down his cheeks. It had been Toshio Fujiwara, of course. He didn't have to look to know that. It had to be Toshio Fujiwara.

That would close the circle, that would avenge Karen's death. That would avenge Nick Tanner's death. That would be justice.

Justice was one more body on the heap, yes sir. Things went down tough in Americatown.

His voice bubbled up through his tears, but instead of the deep howl he'd expected, he found himself singing:

Haru ga kita, haru ga kita,

Doko ni kita?

Yama ni kita, sato ni kita,

No ni mo kita!

He hugged his knees and rocked himself like a child, for this was a children's song. A happy spring song, but sad too, and deeply moving in its own way. It had always been Billy-chan's favorite.

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