Monday, June 6, 2016

The Lost And The Found Part 3: The Emperor's Message

"I thought I told you to sweep the entire cattle deck! What's the matter? Don't you understand me pops?" Carver, one of the cattle handlers yelled at Sato.

"I'm so sorry. I did not understand. So sorry..." Sato bowed vigorously for Carver who merely grimaced.

"You'd better get that done now. There will be no next time for you. That's twice you've disobeyed a direct order. Do it or you'll end up in the cattle wagon." Carver yelled at him.

"I'm so sorry. Never happen again. Never. No." Sato said keeping his head low.

"It better not. Make sure their cabins are locked too. We're going to make port in an hour." Carver carried his hefty weight back up the stairs leaving Sato to clean up the rest of the cattle deck.

Over the course of the trip he'd gotten to know the personalities of the crew one by one. They were predictably mean and bullying, relying on their superior numbers short temper to maintain control over the larger numbers of cattle imprisoned in the ship.

Sato had also taken time to observe the captives. He refrained from the term cattle using it only when dealing with the traffickers. Over the time that he'd known them he'd managed to forge a few secret alliances though he kept them very quiet.

He'd seen one of them reading a treatise on the Japanese Shogunate from the early thirteenth century. It was an historical work of fiction set before the Edo period. Sato had read the book when he was seventeen years old, even having read the same print version that the captive had before him. He'd eyed the captive reading it noting how far into the book he was. He guesstimated that the reader was on the chapter where Musutuko had just met the Emperor of the South and had brought the emperor the gift of dried Miko berries and an empty sheet or rice paper.

Not many people had known that Miko berries would stain even the highest resin form of rice paper, making it very a good choice for wax encrypted messages. One would just inscribe with a wax pen or a thin candle their message very lightly so as to avoid detection. The berries were then crushed and spread over the rice paper where their juices would stain with a very deep ochre the rice paper leaving the wax enscribed message intact and very legible. Best of all, it would make a tasty snack rice paper and all if you were required to eat it.

So one night while the captive was reading Sato dropped some Miko berries and a small piece of rice paper onto the man's lap.

"Oh. I'm so sorry. Forgive. I beg." Sato said to him bowing profusely.

The captive looked to Sato in shock looking back to his lap seeing the Miko berries and the piece of rice paper. He could not believe his eyes. He put them in his shirt pocket carefully and bowed to Sato.

"Arigato..." the captive replied quietly to Sato.

Sato winked back to him and kept up with his duties in order to avoid drawing attention.

When the captive had returned to his cabin which he shared with twenty other men, he managed to find a safe place to examine the rice paper. He crushed the berries and rubbed them on the rice paper. After a moment Sato's message slowly appeared. Inscribed upon it was:

{We are here to help. You will all be safe.}

Many of the captives were Japanese, with some from China, Java, Indonesia, Korea and even Malaysia. There were even a few who'd traveled from Europe to get passage on these ships. They'd been lured into buying the ticket for the promise of the riches of the west but instead had become captives en route for what was to come. Most if not all were Women but on this shipment there were quite a few Men as well leaving Sato to suspect that they operated on a quota, only leaving any particular port once they'd reached the quota of abductees. They'd paid for the passage only to find that they were being hauled to be sold into sex trade or low paying work. If they cried wolf before they made port, they'd be dumped overboard.

{We will be free?}
"私たちは自由になりますか?" asked the reader of Sato.

{You will be as those who live there already.}
"あなたはすでにそこに住む人たちのようになります。" Sato replied.

To be continued...

Brian Joseph Johns
200 Sherbourne Street Apt 701
Toronto, Ontario
Canada M5A 3Z5
Single six years and going.
Copyright © 2016 Brian Joseph Johns


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