the pearl


Her first memory was of blood. Her mother had hit her, splitting her lip open and cracking one of her teeth. There was pain, and then there was this taste in her mouth, thick and metal.

Mitsuko couldn't remember why her mother had hit her. Late, when she was older, she assumed it had been because of the men.

The men. Entering, exiting, wearing overcoats and carrying briefcases, bottles of cheap alcohol and wallets full of cash, never looking her in the eyes before going into her mother's bedroom. And, after a few years, into her room.

She tasted blood on that day as well, her hand between her legs, feeling torn and bleeding flesh. She lifted her fingers to taste blood and spunk, and she swore she would never taste her own blood again.


Kinonobu's throat exploded in a flash of red before them. Mitsuko stood stone still, feeling tiny droplets of blood and muscle hit her face.

As the other students panicked, running around the small classroom, she licked her lips.

She knew this game. And she remembered her vow.


In her bag, she kept each weapon. In her bag, she had a single torn shirt with streaks of blood in parallel lines, counting coup in a game that had no score.

This one was Megumi, that one was Hirono, that one Chigusa, those were Takiguchi and Hatagami...

With each streak, she would press her lips to it dried, tasting the battle, savoring the victory.


He had bleached hair and a submachine gun. If she had known him at any other time, she would have fucked him that day, then, together, they would kill her mother, kill the men who came to their door, killed all the girls who whispered and glared and spat on her.

But it was now, and the only person she could kill was him.

Feints and shots and rage — pure, seething, flawed even in its purity, driven by each round blasting through her body.

She tasted blood in her mouth.

She knew it was her own.

She had lost.

This Battle Royale story was written by Kate Bolin. If you liked it, there's plenty more at And you can feedback her at