John 'The Orange' checked his watch. It's five minutes to midnight, five more that he needed to remain alive. The dimly lit hypermarket offered many places of refuge and he was more than thankful for a life-sized vat of wasabi peas at the centre of the SNACKS/BISCUITS aisle. Personally, he'd prefer pistachio but those half opened ends looked like they could hurt. He sank his arms under the peas leaving only the top of his forehead visible. There were whispers. John closed his eyes and strained to hear the words."Concentrate," he said to himself.
"Look, he doesn't have to do anything but if we don't kill 'The Orange' in the next five minutes we don't get paid," 'Brinjal' hissed at 'Ramly.' "We need to split up."
'Ramly' nodded. "I ambil section 'ni, you cari dekat 'tu susu dan jus."
'Brinjal' turned and ran. He's going to find that bloody 'Orange' and skewer him with sharpened chopsticks. Literally. Eight hours earlier, twenty-five men from various organizations had each been give a pair of chopsticks and a mission - kill the assassin 'Orange' before midnight. It would be safe to assume that 'Orange' himself had a pair too, judging by the wounds on the twenty-three deceased men so far. 'Brinjal' turned a corner and spotted the lifeless corpse of 'Baked Beans' impaled through his heart with, you guessed it, a chopstick.
'Brinjal' stopped dead in his tracks as he heard 'Ramly' struggling. He ran back to where he had left him only to find 'Ramly' crumpled on the ground with a chopstick sticking out of his jugular. He clenched his chopsticks. Surely 'Orange' can't be far...
The lights went out. 'Brinjal' was crying.
"What the f..."
The tears kept flowing from 'Brinjal's' eyes like a full bladder at the urinal after a beer drinking contest. It took him some time to notice that the tears more viscous than normal tears should be. He felt his face and for the first time realized that the lights hadn't been switched off but rather there were chopsticks pierced into his eyeballs. They were heavy, weird almost. He looked up and felt the blunt end of the chopsticks brush his eyebrows. With a quick bone-twisting crack, he fell to the ground with his head facing the back.
"Mahai!" Orange shouted. 'Noobs! All of them!"
Clicks! (There were more than one...) Light flooded every corner of the hypermarket now. A large contingent of men in suits made their way towards him. He saw his employers - 'The Committee.' A large man spoke.
" 'The Committee' thanks all the representatives from various Guilds, Associations and Unions for participating in the 2011 membership application of the 'Chinese New Year Essential Items Register.' We regret to inform you that there will be no new additions this year. Please try again next year." The crowd dispersed.
John heard the President of 'The Bak Gua Producers Union' offering his condolences to his counterpart from 'The Brinjal Growers Association'.
"Close fight this year! Better luck next time!"
Of course, 'Bak Gua', 'Nian Gao' and 'Mandarin Oranges' are permanent members on 'The Register.' John wondered what it would be like had 'Brinjal' won. 'The Committee' being men of their words would've gone all out, conjured a brinjal dish/snack and marketed it as the 'must have' this season. These were powerful men - they owned countless chains of stores, markets and restaurants globally and every decision they make influence worldwide consumption. That's unlikely to happen though with 'The Committee's' last defeat in the annual event occurring half a century ago to a well funded consortium of various farmers, manufacturers and fishermen. Everyone takes Yee Sang for granted now.
John headed for the main exit. The staff were hard at work mopping up blood and storing body bags with lamb and beef parts in the freezer. Fireworks lit the sky outside as people celebrated New Years Day. John's mind was already on his next job two weeks from now. By then he'll be 'The Chocolate.'