Home to Nagasaki – Chapter 9

March 16, 2013

Hiroshima, Japan

August 6th, 1945


The Murakami Tea House was burning to the ground. Neither Turner Denton nor my family were anywhere in sight. I feared their bodies were lost among the wreckage, their blackened corpses buried underneath a pile of flaming coals that used to be the Tea House.

I resisted the urge to climb into the fire and start digging for their bodies. Instead I walked along the restaurant hoping that perhaps a portion hadn’t caught fire and inside that portion, my wife and son would be waiting, untouched and smiling. But as I circled I saw that flames danced across all four corners of the restaurant.

A twisted ankle and injured knee prevented me from walking faster than an awkward limp so I found a piece of lumber to use as a cane. If Masaru or any of his men happened to catch up to me, they could take me down quickly.

Which is why I needed to find my family and leave Hiroshima as soon as possible.

But how? Most transportation had been destroyed and whatever was left would be part of a massive rescue effort that would likely be supervised by the military.

Was this how I was to repay my debt? Wandering throughout a burning city, on the run from my deranged captain, desperately searching for a family whose fate was unknown?

I had circled back to the front entrance of the Tea House. To the exact spot where Denton was to be waiting with Kimiko and San. Yet all around me were black embers and what looked like twisted car wrecks.

If my family had been in the restaurant they were surely dead, which meant I was free to leave. But if Denton had never brought them to the restaurant they were likely alive, possibly even nearby.

Who was Turner Denton? Why was I trusting him? Why did I believe he would show up with my family? Surely Kimiko had received my letter instructing her to join the mysterious American in Nagasaki but what made me think his motives were true, that he was a man I could trust. He could have taken my secrets to the Americans, and taken my wife with him.

I began to lose all faith in Turner, in his plan, that I would ever see my family again…then I saw the writing. On a brick wall that still stood across the alley from the Tea House, its walls were pristine and unblemished, protected from the blast by the shield of the Tea House, I saw words scratched in black soot.

As if someone had taken a charred piece of lumber, the graffiti read, “Doc K. Meet at the port. Tom A.M. -T.D.”

Doctor K. Doctor Kiyoshi. Meet at the port. Tomorrow A.M. T.D. Turner Denton. With my forearms I rubbed my eyes and looked again. It was written clearly in large black letters so that anyone who stood at the entrance to the Tea House could see them. “Meet at the port. Tomorrow. T.D.”

A change in plans from Turner. Everyone was still alive but how could they meet at the restaurant? It had burned down! So of course Turner returned to the port, to the place we would be headed anyway. To catch a boat. To leave Japan. To never return. I smiled, knowing all would be well.

“Kiyoshi!” A voice called from a distance, like a nighttime echo calling me into a dream. My hearing had not been correct since the bombing and though the voices sounded distant, when I turned I was startled to see Masaru standing just a few meters behind me.

This was impossible. When I last saw him he could barely lift his head. Now he stood mere paces away and only I stood between Masaru and Turner’s message on the wall.

“Kiyoshi! Come back here, you coward!”

My walking stick would make a useful club. I saw myself swinging from the hip like Kaoru Betto to deliver a devastating blow to the side of Masaru’s head.

I held my club before me in a defensive stance; upright blocking my face, two hands gripping one end, elbows out ready to swing.

“Put your weapon down,” Masaru said as he walked towards me.

I took a step back. To break for the port would mean going into the city center, through the heart of the fires. And if I moved, Masaru would see Turner’s message on the wall. If he understood the writing, he would know I was going to the port…and so what?

In his injured state he would never catch me.

So I ran. As best as I could with a tender knee and a twisted ankle. Limping on my stick, I ran. And Masaru followed. His arm was maimed and his face was burned but his legs were healthier than mine. I cut into an alley and between two brick buildings but Masaru was right behind me. I turned corner after corner, trying to lose him but he was catching up fast, and my ankle felt like it could give way and break apart at any moment.

I had one hope: to lose Masaru in the mass of fire and smoke. To disappear into the chaos of rubbish and bodies.

To fade into a spirit and float away from this earth.

To stand alone on the hilltop of time and undo all the wrongs of my life.

I picked up a rock and turned to throw it at my commanding officer but my aim was bad and the rock sailed high. “Coward!” Masaru shouted as he ducked out of the way, his good hand clutching his injured arm.

I threw another rock and then turned towards the burning city. And kept running, directly into the fire.

Mark McGinty‘s work has appeared in Maybourne Magazine, Montage Magazine, Cigar City Magazine and Germ Warfare. His novel The Cigar Maker won a Bronze Medal at the 2011 Independent Publisher Book Awards and was named Finalist at both the ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards and the 2011 National Indie Excellence Awards.


Home to Nagasaki – Chapter 4

March 6, 2013

Ping Fan, China


Masaru planned to turn Manchuria into a gigantic chemical and biological warfare laboratory and it was my job to execute his plan. We decided nearly eighty buildings would be constructed on the compound, including an administrative building to house laboratories, dormitories for the civilian workers, barracks for the military, and a collection of barns and stables to house test animals.

Masaru was proud of the special jail that would house Chinese prisoners of war and Masaru personally supervised the construction of a facility that could conduct frostbite studies year round.

There was a power plant, a group of furnaces used to animal carcasses and human waste and a recreational facility that Masaru designed himself. I wasn’t surprised when I learned it would be staffed with what Masaru described as “a healthy collection of comfort women.”

A railroad connected the facility to the city of Harbin and a private airfield was constructed where newly developed chemical and biological weapons could be tested.

I would later learn that the facility’s perimeter rivaled that of Nazi Auschwitz.

“Japan needs to expand in order to survive as a great nation,” Masaru told me as we stood in a corner watchtower and surveyed the completed facility. “The Home Islands are simply too limited in resources.”

Total war with China was underway and our government believed Manchuria to be the most obvious place to fill our needs.

“This is the most advanced weapons research facility in the world,” Masaru proclaimed, his arms opened wide and his face frozen into a grin like a father admiring his beautiful children. “It is time we started to experiment.”

I was more concerned about my filtration system and the munitions needed to deliver our weapons. I poured over my own blueprints, constantly revising and updating the schematics. I created designs for a portable water purification system that could be carried to the field of battle. A setup big enough for an entire barracks, even an entire base. Bombs that dispersed biological agents when detonated, balloons capable of traveling great distances to deliver these poisons to their target.

Japanese army soldiers at the facility were constantly coming to me asking for decisions on administrative matters. I delegated these mundane duties to my underlings and focused on my designs.

Masaru was more concerned with the experiments. A chemical and biological weapons development facility means our concoctions were to be tested on rats and other rodents. Wild animals captured near the facilities. The Chinese POWs were a constant reminder that we were at war.   

Our prisoners were Chinese, yet we didn’t call them prisoners. We never referred to any of them by name. “Logs,” Masaru decided they would be called. Nothing more than a word used by the military to dehumanize our enemies. As far as we knew, these prisoners never even had names. Only numbers.

Log 741. Log 622. Log 881.

I was more concerned with spare parts needed to build my machines. Not all pieces could be manufactured on the islands and we needed to seek outside help. The army put me in contact with a firm from Australia where my chief contact, ironically, was an American named Turner Denton.

Purported to be a member of the international scientific community, I knew little of Turner at first and our relationship began as nothing more than a buyer and a supplier discreetly exchanging goods and monies. Over the years our relationship would change considerably until I saw Turner as the only man who could deliver me from the predicament I took part in creating.

Mark McGinty‘s work has appeared in Maybourne Magazine, Montage Magazine, Cigar City Magazine and Germ Warfare. His novel The Cigar Maker won a Bronze Medal at the 2011 Independent Publisher Book Awards and was named Finalist at both the ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards and the 2011 National Indie Excellence Awards.

Home to Nagasaki – Chapter 2 & 3

March 5, 2013

Chapter 2

War Ministry Grand Conference Hall, Tokyo



Masaru dressed immaculately in his military uniform and stood half a head taller than the Imperial officers in the auditorium. With a handsome face and a deep, bombastic voice, he took the podium and stared for a moment into the standing-room sea of Japanese military officers, scientists, and even Prince Chichibu, brother of Emperor Hirohito.

Masaru was to demonstrate the advanced water filtration system that I had invented and he had championed. “Conduct the demonstration yourself,” Masaru had urged me, but I politely declined.

“I’m a man of engineering and science, not theatrics.”

Masaru smiled knowing we both thought of him as the superior showman. I owned the scientific contributions while Masaru pulls strings and converted my designs to reality. He was a better advocate of the device I had developed, of anything we had developed. Now he stood on the auditorium stage beside a table with a prototype of the filtration device, a complicated mishmash of tubes, piping and chemistry. This was a miniature version of the system we hoped the army would fund. A funnel at the top collected the unpurified water while pair of dials measured its chemical properties. A tin canister underneath the device would collect the purified water as it dripped from the pipes above.

Masaru addressed the room, needing no microphone as his voice boomed and echoed off the back wall. “Who can deny the importance of providing drinkable water to our armed forces in the forward theater? I present the most advanced water purification system in the world, capable of cleansing the most putrid water into a clean, drinkable supply. Allow me to demonstrate.”

Masaru unzipped his pants as the military audience gasped in horror and watched him remove his penis. He produced a metal cup and urinated into it in front of everyone. This move shocked me at first but I had already learned to accept this flamboyance as part of Masaru’s personality. He cared little what others thought of him. He was known to brag loudly of his successes with little regard for decorum, and to indulge in wine and women recklessly and frequently. This brash act of peeing into a cup as a crowded room of his superiors watched every drop fall was simply Masaru seizing attention. He thrived on the discomfort he caused and used it merely as a method of engaging his audience.

Masaru zipped his pants and carried the piss-filled cup to the device, pouring the urine into the funnel atop the contraption. He narrated the filtration process as the urine made its way through the pipes and eventually came dripping out of the nozzle above the collection canister clear as air.

He poured the contents into a glass and carried the seemingly clean water into the audience. I wasn’t surprised when he stopped before Chichibu Hirohito and offered the water to the Emperor’s brother. Stiff and surprised the prince quickly refused the glass with a curt wave of his hand. Masaru, surely expecting the prince to decline the test, raised the glass as if he were toasting the room, tilted his head back and quaffed the entire portion in one gulp. The crowd gasped but Masaru wiped his lips with the back of a hand and then smiled proudly awaiting his applause.

The dutiful assistant that I was, I started it with a hearty clap that slowly spread until the entire room was on its feet. The purification device was a success and the army soon awarded Masaru with the funds he had requested, yet the money was for more than an innovative system of cleaning water. We were on our way to Ping Fan to the Epidemic Prevention and Water Purification Department of the Kwantung Army, code name: Unit 731.

With the funding we’d receive for our water purification system, Masaru and I would soon turn the facility into the headquarters for Japan’s chemical and biological weapons program.

“This is an incredible honor, Captain,” Masaru said to me as we celebrated that night, a bottle of sake in both hands and a cigarette dangling from his lips. He emptied one of the bottles into my glass and tossed the spent bottle aside.

For as long as I had known Masaru he had been a heavy drinking night owl, but only after a day of hard work. The microbiologist was tall and athletic, his uniform always spotless and he often bested me in footraces or games of tennis. Our fellow officers envied his physical bravado and his seemingly constant supply of cash. In social settings, women flocked around him and postured for his attention. He advanced quickly through the ranks of Japan’s military and was eager to take me with him.

His giant hand proudly slapped my back. He grinned and showed his shiny white teeth. “Drink up, Kiyoshi. Celebrate!”

He toasted our drinks as Masaru nibbled at the pair of young women on either of his shoulders. The nightclub was loud and rowdy. Music blared from above and Masaru made sure my glass was eternally filled with liquor. “The demonstration was a resounding success!” he declared. “I am anxious to put into practice these ideas we have developed. The ideas we have developed together, Kiyoshi. I’m anxious to make Japan the leading nation in the technologies of warfare.”

Developed together, he stressed. I had been the man behind the science, to engineer the water purification devise, to birth ideas for our military technology.

Masaru was right. It was an incredible honor for us to be chosen to head Unit 731. Masaru and I had studied together at Kyoto University. We became doctors together, men of chemical engineering, and had served together in the Army ever since we engaged the Chinese in Manchuria in 1931. Masaru was always one rank ahead of me, always had one more friend than I did, and seemed to need me one step below him always looking up. So he kept me around. When he was promoted and transferred, he always brought me with him, made sure I was paid well, confided in me, and trusted my expertise.

And when Masaru had been chosen to run Japan’s premier chemical and biological weapons research facility, he named me his second-in-command.  

Masaru’s remaining sake bottle clanked against my glass. “Congratulations, Captain, and be proud! It is an honor to serve the Emperor!”

I said nothing, sipped my sake and took the last drag from my cigarette.

Chapter 3


Hiroshima, Japan

August 6th, 1945 8:16am


White skies.

Then a bright and clear morning was suddenly dark.

My military instincts told me to dive for cover but before I hit the ground, a force like a giant’s hand lifted me into the air and threw me towards the river. I hit the paved road, landing on my knees as my wrists slammed onto the pavement. Ignoring sandy cuts and scrapes, I clawed my way behind a stone wall as I was showered by a bomb of splinters and dirt.

Black spots, white spots. Ringing bells.

I rolled along the dirt and turned by back towards the blast. Was I asleep? Did I awaken? I tasted dirt in my mouth and was stung by burning soot up my nose. Hot, acid snot oozed down the back of my throat like lava.  

For a moment I remembered the bomb shelter just fifty feet away but a hot wind blew dust into my face and prevented me from going very far. So I kept my eyes closed and my head down. I was curled into a ball, covering my face with my scraped wrists and stinging hands as the wind pelted me with sand and sticks. There had been no explosions. No familiar pop-pop-pop of bombs detonating in the distance, no BOOM! when one landed nearby. There was no mass of airplanes buzzing above, no whistle as their bombs fell from the sky, no return fire from our anti-aircraft batteries.  

Just a flash of light and a burst of burning wind followed by an avalanche of dirt and junk. Silent shock. Splintering lumber, buildings crumbling. Bricks walls toppling like toy blocks, glass shattering, trees snapping like twigs.

I had crawled onto a pile of rocks so I tried to push them away. The vial with my capsule dug into my ribs. Minutes later, as the wind began to die I lifted my head to see all of Hiroshima shrouded in a brown haze. Through the dust, a cloud of fire grew a mile into the sky.

I was suddenly disappointed that another city had not survived. I was outraged at America for the bombing. At Japan for starting the war in the first place and not being able to defend cities like this one. At myself, for being in the middle of it all and having no power to do anything.  

I wanted to know what it meant for my plan. Where was Turner Denton? I wanted to ask someone. I wanted to know.

My eyes burned as grit filled my pores. I began to lose focus. My head hurt and I could feel wetness dripping from both ears. I used a hand to wipe the moisture from my face and looked down to see red fingers.

Did I hear no explosion because I’d lost my hearing?

But I could hear the wind, the shattered pieces of lumber slapping and splintering against nearby houses. The fire. Like a rush of thunder, the fire! But there were no screams, no voices, no aguish. No cries of panic. Absent was the despair that had been so common during the wars I had known.

I checked my hands and saw the backs were scalded and burned, as if they had been dipped into a pot of boiling water. But I felt no pain. I felt nothing. Only a dull, numbing sensation.

Still in shock, I tried to stand but my knees wobbled and I toppled to the ground. A small child walked by in a daze. A black dog passed the child from the other direction, limping and silent. A group of soldiers crawled from the bomb shelter, their bodies covered in soot, their ears bleeding, their faces dazed. I heard a child ask his mother, “Why is it so dark in the morning?”

I saw myself walking up to the mother as she held her child close, towering above them as the wind and the dirt blew overhead. As she brushed dust off her child’s face, I saw myself looking into her blurry eyes, her mouth caked with dirt. I saw myself ask her, “What does this mean for me?”

The air raid was over in an instant. Had there been only one bomb?

“Impossible.” I muttered.

I imagined myself standing before a classroom of schoolchildren, looking upon the kids who raised their hands and wanted to know if Hiroshima had been hit – if it had been utterly destroyed – by a single American bomb?

I shook my head. “There is no way one bomb can damage so much.” Yet I saw burning buildings all around me. Bodies lining the street as if an army had marched through and executed thousands of people at will. Survivors rose from the wreckage, their faces blank, their eyes lost.

“No way one bomb can do this,” I told myself yet I had a suspicion that the Americans had won the race to develop a functional nuclear weapon. If they had more than this one they would likely begin dropping them on all our major cities.

Then a hand wrapped around my ankle. I looked down to see Masaru, my commanding officer and saw half his face burned red, his eye sockets swollen. His hair singed and smoking, his good looks destroyed. But when I saw the alertness in his eyes I knew his mind remained unblemished. There was a flicker that I recognized.

As his fist squeezed my ankle, I thought of Masaru’s intense patriotism. His sense of nationalism that refused to let me escape with our secrets. I was reminded of his exuberant need to carry out his orders and guard the tales of the facility.

I had survived the bomb but Masaru was alive and still wanted me dead.

Mark McGinty‘s work has appeared in Maybourne Magazine, Montage Magazine, Cigar City Magazine and Germ Warfare. His novel The Cigar Maker won a Bronze Medal at the 2011 Independent Publisher Book Awards and was named Finalist at both the ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards and the 2011 National Indie Excellence Awards.

Home to Nagasaki – Chapter 1

March 5, 2013

Hiroshima, Japan

August 6th, 1945 8:11am


I was given a cyanide capsule and instructed to take the secret to my grave. The pill, that pharmaceutical breakthrough, was so toxic that once swallowed it would instantly stop all cellular respiration. This little miracle would then block aerobic energy production and hopefully, according to its design, send me into an instant coma. I’d break into a violent seizure and if all went according to plan, fall into cardiac arrest and be dead in a matter of minutes.

I’ve read reports about cyanide capsules like this, and their effects on experimental subjects. I’ve studied the drug’s effect on rodents, reptiles and humans, and the poisonous black and yellow tube I carried in my pocket does exactly what it’s designed to do. A triumph of chemistry, and one that works quickly. Sitting inside a small metal vial with a screw-top lid, this pill waited in the inside pocket of my jacket, ready for its call to action.

The idea is that if I’m captured the cyanide will kill me so fast that our project, all of our work, will remain protected. No one will ever know what we did. Years of research wiped away instantly with a violent seizure followed by cardiac arrest.

When the boat reached the island and I stepped into Hiroshima I saw a city untarnished by the fires of war. A place our research was meant to protect. But a town crippled with anticipation of an inevitable attack.

The signs of impending war were everywhere. A column of soldiers trotting up the road wearing clean, pressed uniforms. The cement tops of pristine bomb shelters buried at foot level by the roadside waiting to protect however many people could cram into one of those dark caves of stone. Citizens sharpening spears from bamboo, ready to defend their homeland.

I hurried through from the port. A road ran east towards Minami but turned abruptly north just outside the port and headed for Hiroshima’s city center, just two miles away.

“Meet at Murakami Tea House in the city center,” Turner had said. “August 6th at nine o’clock.” I checked my watch. Plenty of time to walk the two miles.

The rumor was that the Americans were saving Hiroshima for a special attack, but I would not be there to see it. I was merely passing through town and planned to be gone by the end of the day. My memory custodian of the secrets I had sworn to protect, and in my pocket, the eternal honor of Japan was stored in an easy-to-swallow pill.


An unmistakably deep and pompous voice. Masaru’s. He found me. He had chased me, caught up to me and would try to kill me.

“You had no clearance to leave.”

I turned to face my superior officer. “My research has ended, Colonel. The facility has been dismantled.”

“There is still work to be done, Major.” His hand went to his pocket, possibly for a knife or a gun. I wasn’t sure.

I stepped away from him, ready to dash for the city center to meet my contact. “You mean there is work to be erased. Nothing is to remain but our memories.”

I looked around for the Soldiers of Black, Masaru’s loyal security force who were likely hidden in the crowd, dispersed in all directions to prevent my escape.

I took another step towards the road leading to the city center. Another road ran east up a hill. Or I could double back and try to disappear into the port.

Masaru stepped towards me; we were five feet apart. He was nearly a head taller and his dark eyes peered down reproachfully. “My memories no longer exist. They have already been purged. I expect you can say the same for yourself.”

As we inspected each other a trio of planes flew overhead. American B-29s on a scouting mission to a nearby city, or possibly observing the weather over Hiroshima. Not an air raid. Air raids always came in swarms. Air raids caused panic: a loud siren followed by a swarm of people running for those flat gray bomb shelters.

These planes were merely passing over our territory, a daily reminder that our American enemy owned our skies. But I had recently dreamed of seeing American skies. I had Turner to thank for those wishes.

Beads of sweat crept from Masaru’s sharp black hairs and dotted his forehead. He was slightly panting for air and I could tell he had been running after me. Yet his uniform was impeccably clean and his brass insignia shined, never in need of a polish.

Again his hand went to his pocket. I told myself it was time to run, yet I remained in place, unable to remove myself from my commanding officer.

He nodded towards the city. “Where do you think you are going?”

Masaru knew enough but I could not tell him I was going to meet the Australian businessman Turner Denton at the Murakami Tea House. I could not say that Turner had promised to deliver me to safety and that if I missed the meeting, I would be on my own. Turner was to have my wife and child with him. We would eat one last meal in Japan and then travel with Turner by boat to leave our country for good.

The sound of airplanes faded. It was 8:15 in the morning. I looked over the quiet city and saw a town doomed to the chaos I had seen during this war. Men shot, bodies dismembered. Their eyeballs melted, their hair in flames or reduced to stubbles of black ash as the men lay dying, screaming for their mothers. Legs bleeding, fingers and limbs severed.

Would we, the human race, always fight to make ourselves better fighters?

I tried to believe that we wouldn’t. That we were satisfied with the weapons we had invented. That we decided we had gone far enough. Up until 8:15 that morning, I tried to believe we were satisfied with our progress.

Then a flash. A brilliant yellow light.

Mark McGinty‘s work has appeared in Maybourne Magazine, Montage Magazine, Cigar City Magazine and Germ Warfare. His novel The Cigar Maker won a Bronze Medal at the 2011 Independent Publisher Book Awards and was named Finalist at both the ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards and the 2011 National Indie Excellence Awards.

Home to Nagasaki – Chapter 28

December 31, 2012

Ōkunoshima, off the coast of Hiroshima

August 6, 1945


Moments before the bomb detonated over Hiroshima I was escaping in a boat from the island of Ōkunoshima, home to a small poison gas factory under the control of Unit 731. The island was inhabited only by our engineers, who were busily dismantling and destroying all evidence of the program. The factory itself had been gutted, the equipment and instruments destroyed or dismantled, the useful pieces being sent off the island to local ports. All documents were burned, the ashes buried there on the island. The power plant still operated but would be shut down once the purging had been completed.

Masaru and I had flown in from China to supervise the final destruction of the facility and all the while I had been waiting for my chance to disappear from Masaru’s sight. To steal away on a boat or plane, to return to Nagasaki and gather my family. But ever since we took off in Masaru’s private plane he had kept me close and seemingly under constant watch. Even when he had rose from his seat on the plane to walk to the bar and refill his empty drink, six Soldiers of Black remained surrounding me in their seats, their solemn stares fixed on nothing, yet on me at the same time.

When we landed, Masaru rushed us both to a waiting truck that whisked us away to the factory. And throughout that entire day Masaru was at my side and I at his as we directed the disassembly of one of Unit 731’s last remaining facilities. Once we were finished in Ōkunoshima the plan was to return to Tokyo to debrief our superiors on our progress. I had been dreading this trip since Masaru first informed me we’d be going. On the flight from China Masaru told me, “In Tokyo we can expect accolades from the Imperial Army and the assignment of our choice. You will be writing your own future, Major.”

Indeed I will, but my future does not include a trip to Tokyo. I knew that if I was to desert Masaru and my duties in Japan, I needed to do it then, that day. From Ōkunoshima I could catch a boat to Hiroshima and then take a cargo ship or plane to Nagasaki or Kokura. Once I had collected Kimiko and San, I would need to find my way out of Japan but I would worry about that later. For now I needed to escape Ōkunoshima.

During a dinner break I made my way to the logistics and receiving office near the port. A small depot still operated and supervised the boats came and went from the island. Most were delivering our spare parts to nearby cities. I met the sailor on duty and asked to see the schedule.

Small cargo boats were departing throughout the night but one in particular caught my eye. “What’s this boat that leaves at 4:18 in the morning?”

The sailor pointed towards the water. “Bound for Hiroshima with personnel and technical parts.”

I checked my watch. Ten minutes after seven. I had plenty of time to prepare.

I spent the rest of the night supervising the dismantling of a vacant barracks. Once the pieces had been sorted and removed from the site, it was near midnight.

I considered taking a short rest in my quarters. If I were to fall asleep as soon as I arrived at my bed, I could grab three hours before I needed to be awake for the boat. There was nothing to pack – I would be traveling with no possessions. Except for that cyanide capsule in my jacket. I could not convince myself to remove it from my pocket. It might prove to be useful someday.

Masaru found me before I could reach my quarters. “Kiyoshi, join me for a drink in my apartment.”

I dreaded the suggestion. “Please, sir. It is time to rest.”

Masaru seemed to eye me suspiciously. “And there is much to discuss before tomorrow’s work.”

“We can discuss it tomorrow.” I excused myself and shut myself in my room. Nothing to pack, nothing to prepare. Just to rest lightly and awaken in time.

Sleep never came. My mind was cluttered with the noise of my own voice. Chastising myself for defecting, praising my own bravery, reminding myself to be careful. I saw across the yard where Masaru’s apartment was. The light was still on. I watch for nearly two hours before it finally went out. My watch showed it was almost 2:30. I went to the bathroom, drank some water, ate a small biscuit and piece of fruit that I had saved and set off.

I reported to the dock where just a single sailor was minding the depot. Different from the one I saw earlier, this one’s name was Matsui. There was no need to introduce myself, he knew who I was. He confirmed that a supply ship was to depart at 4:18 that morning, just a little more than an hour.

I waited outside and smoked cigarettes until after 4 o’clock, my eyes fixed in the direction on Masaru’s apartment. The ground remained dark and quiet. I walked to the docks to find my ship but saw only a couple of empty rowing boats and a half-sunken trawler that had been stripped and looted.

“The 4:18 has been delayed, Major.” Matsui came out of the depot to inform me.

“For how long?”

She shrugged his shoulders and walked back inside.

I tried not to panic. It could be delayed thirty minutes, even an hour and I’d still be able to escape before the sun rose. But if the delay was longer, several hours, I would have to return to work. Word that Major Kiyoshi, the second in command at Unit 731, had been scheduled to leave might spread to Masaru, who knew nothing of any 4:18 boat.

I thought of aborting my plan and going back. I thought of a story to tell Masaru. I thought of my family, stuck in Nagasaki while I ran all over east Asia tying up Masaru’s loose ends. I thought of what I might have to explain to Masaru but knew it was useless. If I were to disappear Masaru would know right away that I had defected. The Soldiers of Black would be after me in an instant.

Which was why I needed to get away now. No more of those irritating secret policemen that Masaru relied on for intimidation, for his dirty deeds. No more of his orders and ambitions.

I went to the depot and found Matsui. “I will need an update on this delay.”

“Yes, sir,” he went into action and picked up a telephone. He spoke to someone on the other end for a few moments and then hung up and looked at me. “Five o’clock.”

I checked my watch – it was already four. Masaru might be up by five. I smoked another cigarette and considered my options.

A few minutes later a pair of flatbed trucks pulled up to the port, both piled high with lumber and metal drums, wooden crates, metal boxes. The cargo that was to be shipped to Hiroshima. Each truck had a crew of two men but they were more concerned with unloading their rigs than the lone man standing outside the depot smoking a cigarette.

I thought again of bailing out and going back.

If this boat wasn’t to leave soon, I would need to wait and catch another. Or pick a different time to disappear. The sun began to rise in the east and as the base began to awaken with activity I looked towards Masaru’s apartment. Still no sign of the commanding officer, so I continued to wait.

I looked to the port: still no sign of a cargo ship and soon Masaru would be awake. He would order breakfast and if I did not join him, would dispatch two of the Soldiers to my quarters to retrieve me. They would find an empty bed and report back to Masaru that I was gone. The manhunt would begin.

It was too late. The boat was not going to leave. I was on the cusp of being caught so I abandoned my waiting place at the depot and hurried back towards my room. There was still time to make it back without my absence being known.

I could catch a different boat on a different day.

“Kiyoshi! Major!”

I halted, for half a moment, and then continued my stride as if I hadn’t heard Masaru’s voice calling to me from outside his apartment. I continued on as if I was meant to be hurrying back to my room.

“Kiyoshi!” His voice called louder and I turned to see him approaching with a pair of black uniformed soldiers flanking him. He held a clipboard over his head and motioned for me to join him.

It was after six o’clock and the rising sun broke the horizon behind Masaru.

I thought of all the times Masaru had summoned me with some kind of clipboard or blueprint or document in hand. In the past it had usually been some plan for a new experiment or a new facility that Masaru had drawn up and wanted to explain. Some plan that required my immediate cooperation.

And what did he have in store for me this time? What new assignment had he concocted?

“I’ll be right over!” I called to him.

“Meet us at the power plant!” He called back and then walked to a jeep with his two escorts, one of which climbed into the driver’s seat and whisked them all away.

I was alone with just one more chance to run.

I took it.

I was back at the port in minutes and checked with Matsui inside the office. He smiled when he saw me and pointed to the bay. I looked through the window and saw a small boat no larger than an average fishing boat pull into the port. Dark smoke puffed from its engine and a pair of sailors jumped to the dock and guided the boat in place.

“It that the 4:18?” I asked Matsui.

“Just two hours late,” he said. “But there should be room for one extra passenger.” He motioned toward me and smiled, satisfied that he had helped me find a ride, unaware of the significance of my motive.

“Thank you, sailor,” I said to him and walked outside to smoke another cigarette. Ten minutes later I was on board as the boat pulled away from the dock and began a slow, choppy journey to Hiroshima.

It was a twenty minute boat ride to Hiroshima. I sat at the stern with my back to my destination and my eyes on the island of Ōkunoshima. The smokestack of the power plant and a lone radio tower topped the landscape of the island but those quickly became smaller and smaller until they disappeared completely.

My boat was just minutes from Hiroshima when I observed a small plane taking off from Ōkunoshima. Masaru’s plane. By now he would have figured out I had left the island, with a certain tip from the dutiful Matsui.

It was just climbing into the sky but quickly heading my direction. As I reached Hiroshima and stepped onto the dock I knew I had precious minutes before Masaru and his men would land and likely canvass the city’s transportation centers. I was not free yet.

Before running into the city I turned for one last look at Masaru’s plane. It was now halfway across the bay and approaching quickly. Above that I spotted the dark shadow of a larger plane, inbound and high above.


Mark McGinty‘s work has appeared in Maybourne Magazine, Montage Magazine, Cigar City Magazine and Germ Warfare. His novel The Cigar Maker won a Bronze Medal at the 2011 Independent Publisher Book Awards and was named Finalist at both the ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards and the 2011 National Indie Excellence Awards.

Home to Nagasaki – Chapter 12

November 12, 2012

Masaru once told me that as a boy, his father had taken him to Mount Iimori, which overlooked Tsuruga Castle, scene of a famous battle in the Boshin War. “Your uncle Itō died here,” Masaru’s father explained. “Itō was a young Aizu samurai, as was our father before us. Itō was a member of the Byakkotai, the White Tiger Corps, a reserve army of teenagers. Young samurai, but samurai nonetheless.”

Masaru’s father Keisuke stood atop the hill and gazed down to the tiered castle, a pagoda that rose like a pyramid with six roofs. Like his son, he was tall for a Japanese man. “Your uncle’s squad was cutoff during battle, separated from the rest of their unit. When they reached this hill, they looked down to the see castle aflame, the surrounding town burning. Fearing their families and lord defeated and dead, these honorable men committed seppuku. Suicide by disembowelment, Masaru-san. They died right here on this spot.”

Masaru followed his father as the Japanese Army general took a step back to observe a stone monument that had been constructed in honor of the Byakkotai. “But they were wrong in their assessment. The castle had not been breached. Though a battle was underway, the town had not fallen and the war continued. But for their loyalty to their people and to their lord, these men were honored with this memorial.” Keisuke pointed to the stone edifice. “Read the inscription, my son.”

Masaru leaned in and read the words, “‘No matter how many people wash the stones with their tears, these names will never vanish from the world.’” Etched into the monument were the names of all nineteen Byakkotai who had died that day.

“Only one of them survived, his attempt at seppuku failed, and the story became legend.” Keisuke looked to his son. “Your Uncle Itō died the most glorious, the most honorable death imaginable. Remember what you see here today, my son. Do not forget the story of these great, young men. The story of your blood. Remember this lesson.”

Masaru told me the story proudly the first time I met him. We were young military doctors at that time, taking a break from our training by lunching in a cold cafeteria in a forgotten army barracks somewhere, years before Unit 731 had even been devised.

“My father had no close relatives who died so wondrously,” I replied to the man who would soon become my superior officer. “My family line does not flow with the blood of samurai. I am the son of a doctor, and the son of a soldier.”

We ate. We discussed our training. The year was 1928, or 1929. I don’t remember. But I do remember pouring myself a glass of milk.

While reading a folded newspaper with one hand I poured milk with the other. Sun today, rain tomorrow, a local shop robbed by two youths on bicycles, a dead body found near the river. Before I could flip to read the opposite side of the paper, my glass of milk overflowed and spilled to the floor. The bottle was still tilted in my hand as the milk poured forth into a volcanic overflow of cold, white liquid. Rushing to stop the catastrophe, I pulled the jar away, yet too quickly as I managed to brush the top of the overflowing milk glass and sent it to the floor with a spectacular explosion of glass, bubbles and liquid.

Masaru laughed loudly, a deep, bellowing cackle. He pointed at me and then to the spill on the ground, shaking his head as his laughter faded and his attention returned to his lunch. He threw a napkin into the spill, more to prevent the milk from polluting his lunch than to help me contain the accident.

“Damn it,” I cursed as I threw my paper aside and grabbed a handful of napkins. Dropping to my knees to clean the spill, I was disappointed to see the milk was filling the cracks between the tiles like glue. If it dried it would smell and the rest of the officers would begin to wonder why the cafeteria hadn’t been cleaned. Alas, it was only a glass of milk. Or so I thought so at the time.

As I used to towel to mop at the puddle of milk and collect the broken glass into a small pile I realized I would not be able to clean every drop, or gather every razor-sharp, microscopic slice of glass. My accident had polluted the cafeteria floor. Always there would be chunks of glass caught in the cracks of the tile along with flakes of dried milk and fibers from the towel I was using to clean my mess.

I imagined an accident like this spread across the entire building, amplified with enough milk and glass to poison an entire village. I sat on my bottom and held a milky piece of curved glass before my eyes, gazing into the past, into the construction of the object. Wondering who had created this handy piece of kitchenware.

I gazed across the milky waste of the tile floor. “I wonder if it’s possible to create a weapon that did this.”

I suddenly had Masaru’s attention. “What are you talking about?”

“A bomb that once detonated would pollute its surroundings with poison.”

“Like a gas bomb? Mustard gas or something? I believe such tactics were banned by Geneva Protocol a few years ago.”

As I pondered the components of such a device a small black ant wandered into view and approached the smeared milk spill, his feelers twisting and poking every direction as he assessed the mysterious white nectar.

“What if instead of spreading poison, the bomb spread parasites? Or a virus? Or some other kind of contagious agent?”

Masaru sat back and listened.

“What if instead of a bomb that explodes with ordinance and shrapnel, it explodes with disease?”

“A bomb that spreads poison, parasites and disease?”

Masaru stared blankly at me for a moment, his mind processing the scope and complexity of my proposal. Then he smiled, slowly at first, as if he were unsure such an idea warranted a smile. Then he reached out and patted my shoulder. “An idea fit for the Emperor himself!”

Mark McGinty‘s work has appeared in Maybourne Magazine, Montage Magazine, Cigar City Magazine and Germ Warfare. His novel The Cigar Maker won a Bronze Medal at the 2011 Independent Publisher Book Awards and was named Finalist at both the ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards and the 2011 National Indie Excellence Awards.

A Collection of Premature Obama Obituaries

November 7, 2012

Time to hold some pundits responsible. Because every day they spew whatever malarkey wins them page views, retweets and cable news airtime but are they ever held accountable? Does anyone ever call them out on said malarkey when it proves, usually within a few days, to be completely off base? No. They’re given a free pass to generate brand new malarkey the next day and no matter how inaccurate their predictions were the day before they are usually never questioned. The cycle continued over and over and over. They’re worse than fake psychics, because at least fake psychics are able to realize that most people do have a dead relative named John.

So what was the most inaccurate prediction of the 2012 election season?  Well, that would be the exact opposite of what actually happened: that Barack Obama would lose and Mitt Romney would win. Countless conservative pundits, day after day, wrote Obama’s obituary, most of them knowing that in our 24 hour new cycle (or even 6 or 12 hour cycle), the words and tweets of the previous day would be quickly forgotten and a new narrative would be written.

Here is some of the best Mitt-Will-Win punditry, starting at 10 (ok, 11!) days before the election, and counting down to the final predictions.

October 26th, 11 Days Out…

FiveThirtyEight.com Forecast: Obama 74.4% chance of winning

Ross Douthat

I think the Romney campaign’s guarantee of victory has mattered much less than the Obama campaign’s recent aura of defeat. Losing campaigns have a certain feel to them: They go negative hard, try out new messaging very late in the game, hype issues that only their core supporters are focused on, and try to turn non-gaffes and minor slip-ups by their opponents into massive, election-turning scandals.


Rick Wilson

Watching the final debate, the more I considered Barack Obama’s deplorably non-presidential affect and attitude; his reliance on corny, crudely-made zingers; and his almost pathological string of lies and distortions, the more it struck me that, at some level, he knows this is over.


Jennifer Rubin

The collapse of Obama’s winning coalition from 2008 is evident on multiple fronts… the president is now drawing in the RealClearPolitics average the support of (you guessed it) 47 percent of the voters.


Neil Stevens cherry picked one poll and predicted Minnesota and Pennsylvania would go to Romney!

Gallup’s new partisan ID split, one that mimics what Rasmussen has been saying all along, predicts nothing less than doom for the Democrats, and a solid, national win for Mitt Romney this year.


October 27th, 10 Days Out…

FiveThirtyEight.com Forecast: Obama 73.6% chance of winning

Hugh Hewitt – speaking of Ohio

I am not surprised by the crowds or the energy.  People who think it is close will be surprised a week from Tuesday.  You can’t hide the economy from the people living through it. Ohio wants change.


John Nolte, on Michael Barone

Michael Barone is no shill. He might be right-of-center politically, but he’s nobody’s flack. What he is, however, is one of the top three smartest numbers men in the country, and he’s predicting a Romney win.



Dan McLaughlin

Barack Obama is toast. This is not something I say lightly. I generally try to remain cautious about predictions, because the prediction business is a humbling one…. Obama will lose – perhaps lose a very close race, but lose just the same. That conclusion is only underscored by the fact that, historically, there is little reason to believe that the remaining undecided voters will break for an incumbent in tough economic times. He will lose the national popular vote, and the fact that he has remained competitive to the end in the two key swing states he needs to win (Ohio and Wisconsin) will not save him.


October 28th, 9 Days Out…

FiveThirtyEight.com Forecast: Obama 74.6% chance of winning

Jay Cost

More and more, Americans are coming around to the idea that a President Romney would be a change for the better, which means that—barring some unforeseen shift in public opinion—Obama’s days in office look to be numbered.


Newt “I’m going to be the nominee” Gingrich

I think it’s very unlikely, as a historian that [Romney]  can win a significant popular victory vote and not carry the electoral college…I think he’s actually going to end up winning 53-47.


Dean Chambers (The unskewedpolls.com Guy)

If these numbers are right, Mitt Romney gets elected our next president with 301 electoral votes to 237 for Barack Obama. If Romney wins Pennsylvania and Michigan, that total goes to 337 electoral votes. If Romney momentum causes him to win Oregon, New Mexico and Minnesota, he will win a total of 359 electoral votes as projected here. If Maine, Connecticut, New Jersey and Washington state come into play, they could add another 37 electoral votes to the Romney total for a final total of 396 electoral votes.


October 29th, 8 Days Out…

FiveThirtyEight.com Forecast: Obama 72.9% chance of winning

Dick Morris

Obama won by 7 points in 2008. But the electorate has become 15 points more Republican since then. Do the math — an 8 point Romney victory! OK, maybe 5 or 6 or 7, but no cliffhanger.


John Kasich

Right now, I believe we’re currently ahead. Internals show us currently ahead. Honestly, I believe that Romney is going to carry Ohio.


Jack Kelly

So the question may not be whether Mr. Romney will win, but by how much…Underlings must wonder if there will be legal consequences for the laws they’ve broken. I predict an orgy of document shredding Nov. 7.


October 30th, 7 Days Out…

FiveThirtyEight.com Forecast: Obama 77.4% chance of winning

Michael Novak

For myself, I expect Romney to win by just over 52 to 46 percent, with two minor candidates gathering about 2 percent between them.

also, speaking of pollsters…

The one I count most trustworthy is Rasmussen


Frank Donatelli

A cold, hard reading of the most important trends and numbers tells us that Mitt Romney will be elected America’s 45th president…There are still many factors that can affect this closest of elections. But the most likely outcome is for Mitt Romney to ride strong public dissatisfaction with the president’s handling of the economy to victory on Nov. 6.


Joe Klein provides a needed dose of reality

So we’re in the quiet eye of the election. And I promise you, this thing can spin either way when we emerge. There will be a jobs report this Friday. There may be other surprises. But anyone who claims to know who is going to win is blowing smoke.


October 31st, 6 Days Out…

FiveThirtyEight.com Forecast: Obama 78.4% chance of winning

Michael Graham

I predict the latter. One week from today, Mitt wins…If you’ve been watching the polls and the campaigns at all objectively, you’re starting to see a picture develop. One where Romney’s the winner well before bedtime.


Dick Morris again, in a piece titled “Here comes the landslide”

In the next few days, the battle will move to Pennsylvania (20), Michigan (15), Wisconsin (10) and Minnesota (16). Ahead in Pennsylvania, tied in Michigan and Wisconsin, and slightly behind in Minnesota, these new swing states look to be the battleground.

Once everyone discovers that the emperor has no clothes (or that Obama has no argument after the negative ads stopped working), the vote shift could be of historic proportions.

The most likely outcome? Eight GOP takeaways and two giveaways for a net gain of six. A 53-47 Senate, just like we have now, only opposite. Barack Obama’s parting gift to the Democratic Party.


Dan McLaughlin with a long-winded double-down on his insistence that Obama is toast

(he declares that a statistical models like Nate Silver’s 538.com is no better at predicting outcomes than RCP, which on this date are predicting Obama electoral votes of 299 and 290 respectively)

And I stand by the view that a mechanical reading of polling averages is an inadequate basis to project an event unprecedented in American history: the re-election of a sitting president without a clear-cut victory in the national popular vote…No mathematical model can provide a convincing explanation of how Obama is going to win re-election. He remains toast.


November 1st, 5 Days Out…

FiveThirtyEight.com Forecast: Obama 80.8% chance of winning

Keith Backer at Battleground Watch uses words like unrealistic, silly, and fantasy to deconstruction a trio of Quinnipiac polls showing Obama leading in swing states.

Well done Quinnipiac. Now, if you’ll just survey far more Democrats than have ever shown up at the polls in these state [sic] the Death Star may finally be fully operational and Obama can pull out an election that he is almost assuredly losing right now.


Karl Rove ignores all data that doesn’t support his argument (which is quite a bit)

My prediction: Sometime after the cock crows on the morning of Nov. 7, Mitt Romney will be declared America’s 45th president. Let’s call it 51%-48%, with Mr. Romney carrying at least 279 Electoral College votes, probably more.


Boris Epshteyn cites (who else?) Gallup in his piece “3 Reasons Mitt Romney Will Win the Election”

The feeling among GOP faithful four years later is drastically different. We do not “hope” to win or “believe we can” win, but are convinced that Mitt Romney will win the election on November 6.


November 2nd, 4 Days Out…

FiveThirtyEight.com Forecast: Obama 82.67% chance of winning

Jay Cost doubles down in “Why Romney is Likely to Win”

I think Mitt Romney is likely to win next Tuesday. For two reasons:

(1) Romney leads among voters on trust to get the economy going again.

(2) Romney leads among independents.


The Obama campaign’s David Alexrod counters all of this with a firm prediction of victory:

(Be sure to read the comments on this one)

I don’t want to be ambiguous about this at all, We’re winning this race,” senior adviser David Axelrod said on a conference call Monday morning. “I say that not on the basis of some mystical faith in a wave that’s going to come or some hidden vote. We base it on cold, hard data based on who has voted so far and on state by state polling. So we just, you’re going to get spun and spun and spun in the next week and what I would urge you to do is to focus on the facts, focus on the data, focus on the trends in the states and if you do it will lead you to the same conclusions.


November 3rd, 3 Days Out…

FiveThirtyEight.com Forecast: Obama 83.7% chance of winning

Michael Barone ignores all the polls and goes with 315 for Mitt, 223 for Obama

Fundamentals usually prevail in American elections. That’s bad news for Barack Obama. True, Americans want to think well of their presidents and many think it would be bad if Americans were perceived as rejecting the first black president…Bottom line: Romney 315, Obama 223. That sounds high for Romney. But he could drop Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and still win the election. Fundamentals.


Michael Franc cites the single week-old (yes, you guessed it) Gallup poll and then “unskews” the rest of them…

Correcting these polls so that there was a Republican edge in the sample of voters consistent with Gallup’s finding would hand Romney a lead between five to ten points. Imagine the run on smelling salts at Mother Jones and MSNBC if that were to happen?


Speaking of unskewed polls, Dean Chambers ups his estimate to 311 Romney

If the election were held today Mitt Romney would win 311 electoral votes while Barack Obama would win in states worth 227 electoral votes according to the latest polling data available today.


Lots of wishful thinking from Emmett Tyrrell

Next week President Obama goes into retirement. I hope he will consider Hawaii.


November 4th, 2 Days Out…

FiveThirtyEight.com Forecast: Obama 85.5% chance of winning

Charles Krauthammer

Nonetheless, predicting the outcome of the election, Krauthammer said that while the recent events have helped Obama “slightly recover in the polls” Romney will ultimately win the election by a narrow margin.


Mary Kate Cary

Romney promises to deliver where Obama did not, by working with decent people on both sides of the aisle. Obama can’t promise to do the same—because it’s clear he doesn’t think there are decent people to work with on both sides anymore.

Romney does. That’s why he’ll win.


Ari Fleischer tweets:

Romn wins CO, WI and NH. That’s 271 EVs…PA and OH would be icing on the cake. Romn could peak at 309 EVs if he takes both.


November 5th, 1 Day Out…

FiveThirtyEight.com Forecast: Obama 86.3% chance of winning

Julia La Roche, reporting on Dennis Gartman

Another point Gartman makes is that he thinks the polls are “badly out of touch.” First, he notes the calls have a very high refusal rate and only a small percentage are actually responding.  What’s more is the polling tends to take place during the day and those people responding are likely unemployed, therefore, they would likely need government assistance and would also likely lean toward the Democrats, he explains.


I can’t get enough Dick Morris

Morris says Romney will capture 325 electoral votes while Obama will get 213, a significant difference.

“It will be the biggest surprise in recent American political history,” Morris said. “It will rekindle the whole question on why the media played this race as a nailbiter where in fact Romney’s going to win by quite a bit.”


And finally, from World Net Daily. A witch doctor from Obama’s ancestral village in Kenya predicts Obama will win and of course, the birthers at WND are not surprised!

Witch doctor John Dimo tossed some shells, bones and other items to determine who will win Tuesday’s election. After throwing the objects like so many dice outside his hut in Kogelo village, Dimo, who says he is 105 years old, points to a white shell and declares: “Obama is very far ahead and is definitely going to win.”


Fred Barnes

Mitt Romney will win.  The tie in the polls goes to the challenger.


November 6th, Election Day!

FiveThirtyEight.com Forecast: Obama 91.6% chance of winning

Larry Kudlow

Mitt Romney, on the other hand, is working to restore the freedom model created by our Founders. This model has served the country well for 250-some-odd years. It is fundamentally a belief in people and good common sense. It is profoundly optimistic. Perhaps I’ll be wrong. But I think optimism wins this election.


Rich Stowell

Count this author as among those who believe the American People will not vote for failure. We will learn fairly early tomorrow night that Mitt Romney has secured an electoral majority.


Mark Tapscott

Romney wins 53-47, thanks mainly to his Rope-A-Dope strategy and an immense enthusiam advantage.


Red State Blogger qsclues

For those two reasons alone, I predict a victory for Romney on Tuesday night by a margin that will be anywhere from “comfortable” to “resounding”.  As a bonus prediction, the party will unofficially start when Pennsylvania is called for Romney.


Of course, we know how it all turned out.


Mark McGinty‘s work has appeared in Maybourne Magazine, Montage Magazine, Cigar City Magazine and Germ Warfare. His novel The Cigar Maker won a Bronze Medal at the 2011 Independent Publisher Book Awards and was named Finalist at both the ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards and the 2011 National Indie Excellence Awards.