Spring of the Dead
"This way!"-Dialogue in Japanese
"Bloody hell!"-Dialogue in foreign language (English in this case)
Oh my god! - Personal thoughts
Fujimi Academy, Tokonosu City, Japan
Z-Day, -0015 hours
The warning bell rang, sending students still milling about to their classes. It went unheeded by one already seated in his homeroom. Seated in the back, he ignored the actions of his fellow classmates. All attention was focused on the paperback on his desk. Clad in an academy uniform, there was nothing that made him stand out from the rest. His focus was broken as the class representative carried out the morning routine.
"Rise! Bow! Sit!"
Same old, same old. It had become second nature for him. Besides, it was only a study hall. He had just brought the book back up when a loud voice called out.
"Tomonaga, to the front at once!"
Oh hell. This was also second nature to him. Book in hand; Saburo Tomonaga made his way to the front of the class, the rest of the students looking on. He stopped in front of the teachers' desk.
"What can I do for you, Wakisaka-sensei?"
The teacher gave him a cold look. "You can start by putting down that trash!" Inwardly, Tomonaga sighed; this was not the first time had this discussion.
"Wakisaka-sensei, as a lover of history, it's my duty to see both sides of any conflict. A person in your field should surely see that?" At this Wakisaka bristled.
"Tomonaga, a man of my expertise has more to learn from than the memoirs of some criminal!" At this he took offense, "Mr. Sledge was an honorable man who served his country during it's time of need. Perhaps you could see it this way if you weren't so close minded!"
Saburo heard a few students gasp at this latest outburst. There were few who dared to argue with a teacher, let alone a transfer. Wakisaka looked like he was ready to explode, before his features calmed.
"Tomonaga, I'll let this offense slide due to your naiveté at Fujimi. However, for my class, I would like to see an extra report on the economy during the Meji Restoration. Now, put that trash away and do something productive."
With no other option, Tomonaga returned to his seat. He placed the paperback in his school bag, trading it for algebra. If anything, it'd keep his mind occupied. Going over the problems, he let out another sigh. No matter what school he went to, it seemed like the teachers held something against him for his choice of literature. It was unsurprising, considering that when it came to the Pacific War; Tomonaga felt he was among the few who objected Japan being painted in an innocent light. It was the primary reason he made so few friends during his scholastic career, besides his reserved nature.
Twenty minutes later, Tomonaga felt his head was going to explode. Putting the work away, he asked Wakisaka to use the washroom.
"Only a few minutes, and don't sneak that trash out." Close enough, he left the classroom. The washroom was at the end of the hall, and he was just about to enter it when he saw a familiar face. "Oh, good morning Komuro."
His mind clouded with thoughts, Takashi Komuro didn't notice the new student until he called his name. Looking up, he gave a halfhearted smile, "Hello Tomonaga." While Takashi didn't know Saburo too well, he had talked to him enough times to have a feeling of acquaintance.
The transfer student smiled back, then frowned looking at Takashi's face. "You look troubled, is something wrong?" Sighing, Takashi just shook his head; he didn't feel like talking about Rei right now.
"Nothing, just thinking." He gave a half-hearted smile before continuing his walk. Looking over his shoulder, Saburo stared at Takashi's retreating form. Sighing, he continued towards his destination.
A light breeze was ruffled Takashi's hair and clothing. The teen was currently leaning over the outside stairwell. Head down, he could only let the memories take over. They were the same ones he always had, of him and Rei.
"Pinky promise huh? Cross my heart and hope to die? Yeah, right." The words tasted bitter, only fueling his somber mood.
"That's so stupid."
Takashi knew that voice only too well. How long has she been here?
He turned to address the girl, "What do you want?" Behind him, Saya Takagi began strolling down to him, hands on her hips.
"Every time you face something you don't like, you always come to this stupid staircase." She brushed a hand through her hair as she continued. "Good god, look at you." She stopped right in front of him, "The first semester has just started, how are you ever gonna make through the year?"
Takashi turned his head, partly from her words, and to avoid looking down her shirt. "I could say the same to you; the first period isn't even over yet." At this, she let out a smug laugh. "It's okay because I'm a genius, unlike you who got into this school on dumb luck."
"Takagi, why do you always diss me like that?"
"Because I don't like stupid people." Jerking slightly, his response was a quick, "What?"
Undaunted she continued. "Especially the ones who can't admit that their stupid. I mean, you're pretty stupid, but at least you know you are. So, if I tell you that you're stupid, then maybe by some miracle you'll be less stupid, stupid." Her rant over, Saya looked to Takashi, only to notice him leaning over the railing again.
Narrowing her eyes, she turned back towards the door. "Grow up, moping because your little friend dumped you?" She shook her head before closing leaving the stairwell.
Takashi barely acknowledged the door closing. He was a little pissed at Saya, for her attitude and the fact her words struck home. Still brooding, he was brought out of his sulking by a loud bang. Looking around, he found the source to be at the main gate. There was a man pounding into the metallic structure, as if to get through by force alone.
"What's that, a trespasser?" As he watched, Takashi noticed a group of teachers heading over.
The figure still hadn't moved when the teachers came over. Peering through her glasses, Kyoko Hayashi noticed the man's' eyes looked milky white. She dismissed this as the man being drunk, or some kind of narcotic.
"Just who are you? You're trespassing on private property!" Her words had no effect on the man, as he continued to bash the gate with his body. The Ping Pong advisor's felt her face tense up in annoyance. "If you don't leave, we will call the police!" Her advance towards the gate was stopped by the teacher next to her.
"Please Hayashi-sensei, there's no need to call the police yet."
It was Teshima, one of the P.E. teachers. Giving a wink and a smile, he rolled his left sleeve up to expose a well toned arm. "We just have to show him who's boss." Walking up to the gate, he grabbed a fistful of the man's shirt. With one tug, he slammed the figure against the gate.
"Look here, you son of a bitch!"
This was too much for Kyoko. "Wait Teshima-sensei, there's no need to be forceful." She stopped her next sentence as she watched the P.E. teachers face change. Gone was the carefree and aggressive look, it was now one of bewilderment.
"No, this guy's strength is-."
He stopped as the figure opened his mouth. Looking down, Kyoko recoiled in horror at what she saw, "F…fingers!" She landed on her rear, her stomach churning with nausea.
A cry of pain grabbed her attention. Looking up, she could see Teshima recoiling from the gate, blood pouring down his arm. As she moved towards her peer, the source of the bleeding became obvious.
There was a massive chunk of skin and flesh missing, sun gleaming off the exposed bone. A sound brought her attention back to the gate. The man had both of his arms through the gaps, flailing at her. Snapping and snarling at the teacher, Hayashis' nausea doubled as bits of gore flew from his mouth.
"For god's sake Hayashi-sensei, get the school nurse!" The shouting brought her back to Teshima. Yamato was hovering over the fallen teacher, the P.E. assistant having First Aid certification. Next to him, Matsuda was doing his best to help, balding head secreting with sweat.
"Stay with me Teshima!" Yamato swore as he applied pressure above the wound, hoping to stop the blood flow. All the while, Teshima continued to thrash around, unnerving the whole group with his painful cries.
It was hopeless, "Damn, I can't stop the bleeding!" At this, Kyoko turned to run back into the school, to find Marikawa. She had only taken a few paces when the screaming stopped. Turning around, she saw the wounded teacher lying motionless, with both Yamato and Matsuda looking on helplessly.
"He…he's dead." Matsudas' words struck home, and Kyoko felt her eyes welling up with tears. Struggling to speak, she managed to form a sentence, "H…how could that have-." A flicker of movement from Teshimas' hand silenced her. The P.E. teachers' eyes moved around, before he started to rise. The closest, Yamato gave a look of relief as he bent down to help him up.
"Jeez Teshima-sensei, you really scared us for a-."
The assistant stopped talking as Teshima clamped around his neck. Hayashi jumped back in horror. Yamatos' face was contorted in agony, his attempts to scream stopped as his vocal cords were torn out. With the assistant down, Teshima stood upright, before turning towards her.
She forced back an attempt to vomit at the site. Teshimas' front was covered with blood, pieces of flesh sticking out of his mouth. His seemingly lifeless eyes latched onto her like a predator. Raising both arms, he let out a moan as he attempted to grab her. Hayashi took several steps back, before turning to run. She could hear Matsuda scream as he ran, towards the main entrance.
Hayashi ran as fast as her dress and heels would allow. While the main entrance was the obvious choice, there were a few side doors that would let her back into the building. She only took a few seconds to look back. Teshima was no longer focused on her, focused instead on the slower Matsuda. Still looking, her eyes widened at the sight of Yamatos' rising form. Reaching a door, she silently thanked the heavens for it being unlocked before heading in.
Still on the staircase, Takashi absorbed the scene in abject horror. Taking deep breaths to calm himself, he didn't notice his knuckles had become white from gripping the rail.
"Wh...What the hell is going on?" As he stepped back, one thought kept going through his mind.
I have to get Rei out of here!
With that goal overriding his fear, Takashi turned and ran back inside. Reaching the desired floor, he hurried towards Rei's class. As he was nearing the door, a thought suddenly struck him.
Oh shit, what about Tomonaga! On reflex, he looked up. His recent friend's class was one floor up, too far away to reach in time. Gripping the door handle, Takashi uttered one word before opening.
Saburo let his eyes close as he leaned back in his chair. With no work and nothing to read, he was bored out of his mind. His boredom was broken as the PA system came on.
"This is an announcement for all students; an emergency situation is taking place inside the school right now!"
It was the principals' voice, Fugaku if Saburo remembered correctly. His voice seemed high pitched, as if he was trying to calm his nerves.
"All students must follow their teachers' instructions, and evacuate!"
His entire class was alert now, some looking at each other in disbelief. Wakisaka was up, moving to open the door. The older man's' face was set in confusion, as if he couldn't believe it himself. Saburos' stomach churned as he listened to the announcement nervously.
"I repeat. A violent incident is taking place inside the school right n-." The sound of a door opening interrupted the speech, followed by what Saburo could've sworn was a moan. For a few seconds, the PA was silent, but what came next chilled the teenage student to the bone.
"What th- No! Get back, get back!" He heard Fugaku curse in surprise and fear, followed by a soul-piercing scream. Saburo felt his heart rate quicken, his body frozen in place.
"I'm going to die, help, heeellp, helllll-!" It stopped mid syllable. Saburo thought he heard gurgling, like Fugaku was trying to talk with a throat full of blood. Another snarl, then nothing.
Not a word was said, even Wakisaka was speechless. Saburo mustered enough courage to move his head, catching the looks of fear and horror on his fellow classmates. Then, the atmosphere rapidly changed to what Saburo could describe in one expression.
All hell was breaking loose.
As one, the class surged towards the exit. A cacophony of screams and curses drowned out Wakisaka. Said teacher was carried out by the mob as he vainly tried to restore order. Seated in the corner, Saburo was spared this fate. Even if he wanted to run, he couldn't find the strength in his legs. Trying to move out from his desk, he hit the floor instead as his legs buckled. Taking shallow breaths, Saburo mustered enough strength to pick himself up.
"This…this can't be happening!" His voice came out as a tiny squeak, he was so choked up. Fear, it was a feeling that he experienced before: fear of bad grades, of failure. But, this was different; he never had to fear for his own life.
Calm down…you have to calm down.
The small voice in the back of his head repeated. Steadying himself, Saburo reached for his school bag. Rummaging through its contents, his hand landed on something cold and metallic. Taking it out, he looked at the object. It was a charm, made of steel. The center was bent inward, as if struck by an incredible force. A small hole had been drilled on the top, allowing it to be a necklace. Taking the thread, Saburo put it on, the charm dangling off his chest.
It was a gift his grandfather had gotten from his wife, during the Pacific War. Rubbing the object with his fingers, he recited the words his grandfather used to tell him, as if he was standing next to him.
"Fear is something that every soldier feels. To say otherwise is either a lie or foolishness. The soldier, however, is able to fight through the fear." The words flowing through his head, Saburo walked towards the door, his face taking on an appearance of resolution.
Tokonosu City center
Z-Day -0015 hours
The blaring alarm awoke William Nichols. Grumbling, the Englishman shut off the infernal device before rising out of bed. Stretching his muscles, William made his way over to the other bed, where his accomplice was slowly awakening.
"Sleep well Frederick?"
The young man in question gave a slight nod. "More or less, beds a bit stiff." Laughing, the older man helped him up, before gesturing towards the bathroom.
"Go ahead and wash up, I'll start packing our bags." Leaving the young man to his own devices, William moved over to the dresser. It was a decent hotel, pleasant compared to the red eye flight only a few hours before. He took only a few minutes to dress in a T-shirt and blue jeans. He finished the ensemble with sneakers and a light windbreaker.
Placing the packed bag on the bed, he took a moment to stretch. He stole a moment to look at the dresser vanity. The man in the mirror held a generous amount of muscle and tone build. The only indication of age was the graying hair peppering his head and mustache. All told, William Nichols looked the part of a former Royal Marine
Hearing the shower stop, he turned to see his companion step out with a towel. Frederick Sumner was the son of Arthur Sumner, an old friend of his. While Arthur enrolled into a university (a feat he had his son repeat), William joined the Marines as soon he became of age. Despite the separation, the two remained friends as time went on. It was due to this bond that William was with Frederick now.
He took a moment to regard his companion. Just shy of six feet, he held a lanky build without being out of shape. A generous set of brown hair adorned his head; a dash of red thrown in showed his Irish roots. If not for the set of blue eyes mixed with his sharp facial features, Frederick would be the spitting image of his father.
"What do you think?"
The younger voice snapped William out of his thoughts. Focusing, he could see Frederick holding up a tunic. While originally scarlet with deep green trim, it now held a weathered look. At this, the former Colour Sergeant cracked a smile.
"Looks fine to me, though people are gonna think you're out of your bloody mind."
The young man laughed at that, before pulling out the rest of his outfit. Arthur was the head of a growing publishing company, and was hoping to expand overseas. It was the reason the two were in Japan. There was a potential client in Tokyo, a former British national. A real history nut, he planned on taking the two Englishmen around the capital on a tour. Part of the reason Frederick brought the old style uniform was to impress him, that and fulfill his hobby.
A loud crash outside snapped both men to attention. Closer to the window, Frederick hastened over to see the source. His eyes widened as he addressed the former Marine.
"Jesus, someone went through their bloody windshield!" Already moving, William made his way to the window. "Call the front desk; tell them there's been an accident."
William took a look as the call was made. He could see a two door sedan smashed against a fire hydrant, water cascading over the vehicle. The driver was face down on the pavement, perhaps a few meters or so in front. It was a terrible sight, but William had witnessed much worse in his service.
What the hell?!
He watched in morbid fascination as the ejected driver started to get up. Fully upright, the figure began moving towards the hotel. To William, walking would have been too generous a term, as the figure was more or less stumbling along. As the figure came closer, William could see his features more clearly. The man's business suit was a mess, caked in dirt and what he swore was dried blood. Frederick's voice was in the background, still on the phone with the desk clerk. Turning his attention back to, William's eyes widened as he got a good look at the man's face.
The impact had made it a bloody mess, cheeks cut up by glass and pavement. The nose had become nothing more than a stub, while one of the eyes was dangling from its socket. It was now that the former Colour Sergeant noticed a portion of his suit was ripped at the left arm, covered in dried blood. A minute more and the man disappeared from his view, heading into the main entrance of the hotel.
"Give me the phone, something's not right." He quickly pried the phone out of Fredericks' hand, and started talking to the receptionist.
"Hello…hello?!" His repeated calls went unanswered. William considered hanging up, before the sound of breaking glass cut through the static. What followed next was the most bloodcurdling scream he had ever encountered, more so than as a Marine. As he listened, the screaming turned into nothing more than a feeble gurgle from a torn throat. The noise continued for a few more seconds, then silence.
Placing the phone back on the receiver, William met the gaze of Frederick. The younger man was terrified, his eyes wide in shock. Placing one hand on his shoulder, William spoke in a tone not used in a long time.
"Get dressed, and get your rifle."
The order snapped his companion into action, and he scrambled back to his bag. William followed suit, rifling through his clothes until he reached the bottom. He saw a glint of iron, and pulled the weapon out butt first. Placing the weapon on the bed, he pulled a gun belt out, along with a box of ammunition. As he put the belt on, his eyes wandered to the weapon. The revolver had been in his family since his great grandfather was a young Corporal in the Western Front. Taking it by its wooden handle, he placed the Webley Mk. VI into the holster.
The gun belt came with an ammo pouch, with enough room to accommodate all of the .455 caliber rounds he carried. His weapon squared away, he helped Frederick, who had more gear. With William's help, the twenty-three year old had his uniform and weapon ready in a few minutes. Weapons out, both men left the room, into the narrow confines of the hallway.
The screams seemed far off as Saburo left the classroom. Crouched low, he took a quick look down both corridors.
Oh my god!
To his right, not even twenty paces away, was a body. A male student, he lay prone on the floor. Blood pooled over the boys lifeless eyes. Saburo gasped, it was clear the student was dead. Taking deep breaths, he started to move past when he stopped.
'The Principals office is at the main entrance, and this leads right to…shit!' He saw most of the students bolt towards the entrance, and that would lead them right to whatever killed Fugaku. Readjusting his stride, he made his way down the opposite direction. The hall was quiet, save for a few screams from far off. A few more minutes, and he entered the walkway that connected the classroom building with the administrative building.
A flicker of movement caught his attention as he came by a window. It offered him a clear view of the courtyard, and he paused to gaze out. What he saw made his stomach lurch.
There was a group of PE students surrounding a girl, a teacher included in their ranks. He watched in horror as the girl was grappled. She struggled for a moment, before two of them bit her neck and arm. She arched her head back and screamed before the rest of the group dragged her to the ground.
Saburo turned away, trying to keep his stomach from revolting. He continued walking, trying to make sense of what was happening. Of the many thoughts that ran through his mind, one stuck out.
I won't survive long without a weapon.
Saburo grimaced; he remembered the best place for weapons would be the Spear or Kendo Club. Too bad they were on the other side of the school, where all the chaos was. Turning another corner, his musings were stopped by a broken door. It was the only door that appeared damaged in the hallway; the label on the top stated it as a maintenance closet. He examined the door. It looked like someone tried to break in before being stopped; the bloody handprint on the frame reinforced this.
Moving back a few steps, he positioned his left shoulder towards the door. Taking a deep breath, he ran at the door full tilt. Using all the force he could muster, he ran into the door.
And bounced right back, falling on his backside. He grunted as the wind was knocked out of him.
So much for that.
Taking a moment to catch his breath, he stood back up. This time, he dismissed using his shoulder in favor of kicking the hinge.
This time it worked.
The door swung back, allowing access. Saburo flicked the light, taking a moment to survey the room. There wasn't much of use, only broken handles and discarded bags of trash. Taking another step inside, he was ready to give up when a glare caught his eye.
There, hanging in a glass case on the farthest wall was a fire axe. Approaching the case, Saburo found the small hammer needed to break the glass. It took a few hits, but it resulted in the teenager having a weapon. It took a moment to get a comfortable grip, but Saburo was confident in handling it.
He stepped back into the hallway, axe in hand. He moved further down, taking note of a stairwell to his right. A few more paces brought Saburo to the end. He was about to turn the corner when a sound stopped him.
To him, it sounded like chewing.
Axe held out in front, the student cautiously turned the corner. Looking down, he noticed a figure crouched over someone. He wore what looked like a janitors' uniform, and ignored Saburo as he approached.
"Um, excuse me sir, are you okay?" He was a few paces away before the janitor rose up. It was only then that Saburo looked closely at the prone figure. It took all of his willpower not to vomit. It looked like a teacher's aide; her white blouse stained crimson. What looked liked intestines flowed out of her body like oversized noodles.
The janitor was fully upright now, the front of his overalls covered in dried blood. He was a head taller than Saburo. Bits of flesh were stuck in his beard, while his eyes darted aimlessly. Raising his arms at the teen, the janitor opened his mouth. From his throat came a hellish moan that made Saburos hair stand on end, amplified by the overpowering stench of blood.
"St…stay back!" Saburo started backing away from the man. His words fell on deaf ears; the former janitor was still advancing. He found himself going back into the previous hallway, the hellish janitor closing.
"Don't come any closer, I mean it!" Saburo found his voice squeaking out the last few words. As the man came to within arm's length, he made his decision.
With a loud cry, he raised the axe over his head, and struck down with all his strength. The axe lodged into the janitors' chest, making a crunching sound as it hit ribs. Saburo flinched as blood spattered onto his uniform, than balked as the man grabbed the axe handle. Struggling with the janitor, he came to a frightening conclusion.
The man was much stronger than him.
The janitor swung the axe handle to the side, Saburo still gripping the weapon. He braced for the moment when he would hit the wall. Instead, he felt gravity take hold of him. Both student and janitor tumbled down the stairs. He let out a scream as his right side hit the floor. A flash of blue appeared as the janitor flew over him, a sickening crunch came an instant later.
He lay there for a moment, the pain from his side subsiding. Finally getting up, he looked at the janitor. He had gone head-first into the wall; brain matter had mixed in with blood. The shock of seeing the corpse wore off as a cacophony of moans emanated from below. Approaching the body, he gripped the handle of the fire axe. Placing one foot on the former janitors' stomach, Saburo pulled the tool out. Taking one look down, the teenager started back up, continuing around the corner.
Moving past the aides' body, he jumped as something brushed his leg. Eyes snapping down, he gasped as the aide reached for him. Taking a few steps away from the body, he watched as the woman rose from the ground. Standing straight up, the aide seemed unconcerned with her intestines trailing on the floor as she brought her arms up. She let out the same ghastly moan as the janitor, and he could hear more from around the corner. Adrenaline coursed through his system as Saburo contemplated fight or flight.
Flight won out.
He took off down the corridor, away from the woman and the approaching mob. All the while, thoughts kept racing through his head. It didn't make sense; nothing that he had experienced could explain what was happening, save one. It had been when he was ten, and had stayed up late to watch a horror movie. It was an old black and white film, one that made the director famous after its release. He remembered a group of people stuck in a farmhouse, attacked by the same monsters that infested the school now.
He shook his head, that couldn't be right? It was a movie, made to scare people. There was no way that the dead could come back to life.
But it is happening! The voice in his head was screaming at him. This is real, and you have to start believing. Otherwise, you're going to be killed by these…
"Go on Saburo, say it. These Ghouls." Whatever disbelief existed in him evaporated with that sentence. Stopping at the end of the hallway, he turned around. The disemboweled aide was still following him. Behind her were over a dozen other students and faculty, each with the same slack-jawed expression. Taking one last look, Saburo made his made towards the door leading to the courtyard, and hopefully out of this nightmare.
Kyoko had found a weapon before Fugakus' last announcement. The bottom floor of the administration building had a few rooms under renovation, complete with leftover equipment. It wasn't much, but the lead pipe she currently held was better than nothing. She had heard the cries of the principal, followed by the mass hysteria. The Ping Pong advisor had started to make her way towards the classrooms, but a look across the courtyard stopped that.
The windows of the first two floors were spattered with blood. Peering at the first, she held her breath as a man she recognized attacked a student.
Oh god, Teshima!
The former P.E. teacher had his teeth clamped around the boys' neck. Blood flew from the wound as Teshima pulled the student down. Kyoko could only stand horrified as the man she once cavorted with rose from the kill. Fresh blood and flesh covering his shirt, Teshima continued on. Not a few seconds later did the recently deceased student rise, moving with the same stumble as his killer.
Kyokos' vision blurred as tears flowed from her eyes. She let a few sobs wrack her body, trying to come to grips with what just happened. Taking a moment to compose herself, Kyoko cleared her eyes. Another deep breath brought her nerves under control.
"I can't let that happen to me."
The words came out as a whisper. She shook her head. As much as she cared for Teshima, she didn't want to the share the same fate as him. Her composure regained, Kyoko made her way towards the end of the hallway. It would be a bit of a walk, but her car keys were in the faculty room.
The hallway branched off at the end. To her right was the door that led to the athletic fields. On her left were the stairs, giving her access to the rest of the building, along with the connecting catwalks.
A flurry of movement out of the window stopped Kyoko. She saw a group of students run from more of those…monsters. As she watched, one of the girls tripped. On the ground, she tried to crawl as a blood covered teacher towered over her.
The man suddenly stumbled back as a boy struck him with a baseball bat, a sports towel covering his neck. The momentarily lapse in balance stopped as the teacher reached for the boy. This time, the bat crashed against the man's head, knocking the assailant down for good. With more students closing, the boy helped the girl up, before both of them ran to the rest of their group.
Out of her view, Kyoko let the information process. So striking them in the head's the only way? It seemed odd, but it was the only solution she could think of. With the fields not an option, she made her way up the stairs.
Silence greeted Kyoko as she stepped onto the second floor. Looking around, she noticed two girls running in the classroom building. Holding hands, the lead girl had her head turned to her companion. It only took Kyoko shifting her gaze to realize the danger they were in.
She started to move, picking up speed as she entered the catwalk. Adrenaline made the pipe feel like cardboard as she ran. There was still time, if only she hurried.
The collective moans from behind made Toshimi Niki run faster. It had only seemed like minutes had passed since the school became hell. The chilling final words by the principal had frozen her in her seat, and it was only through her best friend that she was moving. She turned her head back towards her friend.
"We'll be okay if we stick together Misuzu!" The girl in question smiled.
"Duh! We're friends forever Toshimi!" The words reassured her. They were near the outside stairs. As long as they were together, they could survive this…
The sharp voice cut off Toshimi's train of thought, and she snapped her head forward. She screamed; there was a former student barely a few paces in front, jaws snapping with outstretched arms. Her sudden stop surprised Misuzu, who collide into her. The force knocked Toshimi on the ground, knocking the wind out of her. No longer holding hands, Misuzu stumbled to the side, colliding with a railing.
The brown haired girl rolled over, her front alive with pain. A shadow fell upon her as she opened her eyes. The student was right above, emitting a hungry moan as he reached down. Fear took a hold of Toshimi, keeping her frozen in place.
"Get away from her!" The former student raised his read, only to get a pipe in the face. Toshimi watched in shock as a woman swung the pipe again, cracking the boys' skull. She was the still on the ground as the woman turned to face her.
The red haired teacher quickly pulled the younger female up to her feet. Toshimi noticed that Kyoko was looking all over her body.
"Are you alright? Were you two bit?" The frightened girl only shook her head. The teacher motioned the two girls to come with her, before a flurry of movement caught her eye.
"They're behind us!" Toshimi followed her gaze, noticing a number of dead students on the catwalk. Her escape route now blocked, Kyoko looked at the stairs. "Come on, we can get to the administration building on the fourth floor."
The girls didn't need to be told twice. They quickly followed the older woman up the flight of stairs, away from the approaching horde.
The hallway was empty as the two men stepped out. William was in front, his right hand clutching the Webley. Quickly scanning both ends, he motioned for Frederick to follow. In conjunction with his uniform, the weapon he currently held dated back to the late 19th century.
At four and half feet long, the Martini-Henry rifle filled out his ensemble. He was fully stocked with ammunition. Two pouches hung from the front of his waist belt, each containing two paper packets of ten rounds. There was a small leather pouch underneath the right one, with ten free rounds for immediate use. A small haversack over his right shoulder contained two more paper packets. Finally, the rifles bayonet was secured over his left buttock.
Sweeping to the right, Frederick took a moment to secure his cork helmet, stained with tea leaves to a dirty yellow-brown. William caught his eye, motioning for him to move towards the elevators. He barely took a dozen paces before the door to the staircase burst open.
A man ran out, a bellhop judging by the uniform. The man frantically ran towards them, left hand clutching a bloody shoulder wound. He waved towards the two Englishmen. "Help, they're coming!"
William spoke up; he was more proficient in Japanese. "Get behind us, into the room!" As the bellhop moved past them, Frederick noticed his skin was pale, clammy with sweat. No sooner had he disappeared from the men's sight than another figure came out of the stairwell. William cursed, and Frederick could only guess it was the car wreck victim. Behind him, more figures followed. In only took a moment for over a dozen more to fill the hallway, all shambling towards the two.
The veteran and university graduate readied their respective weapons. Frederick glimpsed as his counterpart, William had adopted a weaver stance with his revolver. The shuffling of feet brought his attention back to the crowd.
They all looked…wrong. There were various wounds on each of them, with an arm completely torn off one. They all emitted the same ghastly moan, one that chilled the young man to the depths of his soul. Bracing the rifles' butt to his right shoulder, Frederick placed his sights on the car wreck victim.
"That's far enough, stay where you are!" The voice was loud, projecting as much confidence he could muster, and he had the muzzle pointed at the man.
So why in hell wasn't he stopping?
The others paid no heed towards the weapon; all had their arms raised at them. Again, Frederick looked at his comrade, who uttered one phrase.
"Fire at will."
For someone like William to say that, it was enough. He made one last adjustment on the man, before squeezing the trigger. The rifle emitted a sharp crack, jamming the butt into his shoulder. A black powder weapon, a puff of white smoke obscured Frederick's vision for a few seconds. The round sailed straight and true, catching the man in the torso, with enough force to knock him on the ground. The absence of gunfire was filled as William opened up with his revolver. Frederick pulled the lever, ejecting the spent casing. Now empty, the young man reached into his leather pouch, before his eyes became fixated on the ground.
The man he just shot was rising off the floor, powder burns adorning the front of his shirt. The rifleman's eyes widened at the sight, mouth open in disbelief. While difficult to find, the .45 caliber Boxer round was a guaranteed man-stopper, capable of leaving an exit wound the size of a saucer dish. The man shouldn't have been able to move, much less walk.
But he was; arms still outstretched as nothing had happened. Frederick involuntarily stepped back at the sight. Body trembling, his hands fumbled for another cartridge. Next to him, the sound of gunfire ceased as William emptied the cylinder.
He loaded and fired again, striking the man in the arm. The heavy round shattered the bone. The only result that came from it was the man stumbling again, before resuming his advance. He jumped as a hand clasped his shoulder, it was William.
"Fall back, into the room!" He didn't need to be told twice. Both men raced back into their hotel room, shutting the door just as the first of the group were a few paces away.
The deadbolt and latch had scarcely been locked when the banging started. William braced the door with his body, wincing at each thud. He looked over his shoulder, "Give me a hand!" Frederick snapped to attention, grabbing the dresser closest to him. William noticed the bellhop lying against the wall, his skin a sickly pallor. His thoughts on the man vanished as Frederick brought the piece of furniture over.
The former soldier stepped back as the dresser was braced against the door. Doubling back, the two reinforced the barricade with the other dresser. The door shook as the mob crashed against it, but held firm. He turned towards his younger compatriot, "Check the window, find a way out!"
As the man did so, William moved towards his duffel bag, throwing it onto the bed. It only took a moment to gather a few water bottles and snack bars, compliments of the hotel. What was left of his Webley cartridges were shoved in as well. As he moved towards Fredericks' bed, the man in question called out.
"We've got a fire escape, up to the roof!" William gave a quick nod as he fished through his compatriots' bag. His eyes widened at the find, the bottom was filled with paper packets. While he didn't get an accurate count as the packets were shoved in, there were at least a dozen. He handed the bag over to Frederick, before turning his attention to the bellhop. His head was down, and seemed unresponsive as William knelt before him. He shook the man's shoulder, causing him to stir.
"Hey, come on lad. We're goi… bloody hell!"
The bellhop snapped his head up at William, meeting his gaze with lifeless eyes. The former Royal Marines surprise shattered as the man's teeth came down on his left hand. He let out a roar of pain and shock as blood flowed from the wound. The next few seconds seemed a blur as adrenaline kicked in. The Webley flew from its holster, pressing against the side of the bellhops head. A loud pop and the man's head jerked as brain matter coated the wall.
Now free, William looked at the wound, and grimaced. The flesh had been torn off between his thumb and index finger, exposing the glistening white of bone.
"Jesus, you alright?" Fredericks question snapped him to attention.
"I'm fine, let's go!" Even as he spoke, William winced from the pain. Frederick had already started climbing the ladder. As he reached the window, the sound of breaking wood stopped him. Eyes snapping towards the door, he noticed someone from the mob had made a hole, knocking over a dresser. It was the businessman from the accident, snarling as his broken arm flailed. Fixing his stance, William drew a bead on the man's head. One squeeze of the trigger, and the businessman became lodged in the door, a hold drilled neatly in his skull.
Even in pain, William was still a marksman.
He holstered the revolver before stepping onto the ladder; he needed his right hand to climb. He took a moment to look up, cursing at having to climb a few more stories. It was slower going for him than Frederick, who already reached the roof. The young rifleman was looking down at him, eyes peeled for any threats. It took several minutes with the injury, but William was making progress. He had two stories to go when the window to his left exploded.
A gray, blood covered arm gripped his. William screamed in pain as the hand closed around his open wound. The owner of the arm showed itself, what was once an attractive maid now snapped at him with blood stained teeth. Wrapping his other arm around the ladder, he had no chance to pull out his Webley. Leaning out, the former maid reached towards him with her free arm. The former Colour Sergeant realized, in horror, that she could drag him off the building. As he tried to shake off his attacker, a voice above bellowed out.
"Get her head up!"
Adrenaline again flooding his veins, William braced his left arm under her chin, pushing upward with all of his strength. He barely dodged the maids' swipe, when he heard a loud crack. The left side of the maids' skull seemed to explode. Her grip slackened, and William watched the former woman drop down to the streets below. Looking up, he saw Frederick leaning over the side, wisps of smoke emanating from his Martini-Henry.
Now free from danger, the Royal Marine continued his climb up. His left arm burned as he went, and his breathing becoming more labored. Frederick helped him over as he reached the top. He took a moment to compose himself, before addressing his comrade.
"Thanks mate. Thought the tart had me." Frederick said nothing, just nodding his acknowledgment. William winced as another wave of pain hit his body. He struggled getting his jacket off, motioning to the bag.
"Get me some water, will you?" He finished taking the article of clothing off as Frederick returned, bottle in hand. Accepting it, he took a long swig, his throat dry. Done, he poured the rest onto the wound, cleaning it as best he could. Tapping his left shoulder, he spoke. "Hold here." His comrade did so, holding the sleeve in place while William tore it off. It only took a minute for William to make an effective, if crude dressing.
Finished, the aging Englishman gave his younger a nod of approval, though he winced as another wave of pain shot through his arm. He took his time getting up, with Frederick supporting his weight. Fully upright, he became more alert with his senses. Only now did the thick smell of smoke attack his nostrils, causing him to gag. Finished, he took a moment to gaze around the building.
Plumes of smoke sprouted everywhere around the city. The closest one was at the end of the street, emanating from a wrecked bus. William watched in horror as a dozen figures shambled out, uncaring that flames had enveloped them. Stepping back, he closed his eyes as the smell of burning flesh brought memories back, ones that he wished would never resurface.
Just like Iraq, RPG to my Warrior, men cooked by flames…Christ!
The sound of whirling blades penetrated his thoughts. Looking up, his eyes caught the source of the sound.
Even with the different paint job and blazing Red Sun markings, William still identified the American built machines. Led by what looked like an attack chopper, the group sailed over the heads of the two Englishmen.
"Hey, over here!" Turning, William saw Frederick waving his hands, right hand clutching the rifle.
"Forget it mate, they're not Search and Rescue." William's words struck the young man, and he dropped his arms in defeat. Sighing, he turned towards the older man.
"So, what the hell do we do now?" Pausing for a moment, the former Colour Sergeant spoke up. "We could make for that offshore airport, the one we came from last night."
At that, both men turned towards the coast. Remembering the path of the Blackhawks, William saw Fredericks eyes lit up.
"They're heading for the airport! We might have a chance!"
"That may be so, but we have a lot of ground to cover from here to there."
Frederick's enthusiasm died down with that remark. Composing himself, he addressed the next obvious question.
"What's the plan, then?"
"First inventory, then-"
Whatever else William had to say was lost in a retching cough. He fell to his knees as a series of violent hacks wrecked his body. At once, Frederick was at his side. William continued to hack, coughing up large amounts of…
Blood, oh Jesus! William waved the younger man off. His struggle to stand up failed, and he slumped against the edge of the roof. Covering another cough, he looked at his hand, now covered in blood.
"So it is true, bugger." With ragged breaths, he fumbled with the buckle on his gun belt.
"What the bloody hell are you talking about?!" Frederick was starting to get frantic, mind racing to find a solution.
"Come on, you're a sharp lad. People eating one another, shrugging off wounds, only going down by hitting the head." Gun belt off, William waved one hand around.
"This is straight out of a cheap horror film; it's the bloody Walking Dead!" One more hack, and his arm was down. "Which means anyone bitten becomes one of them." Frederick looked at the wound, the dressing soaked with blood. He shook his head.
"Bollocks! That's bloody fiction!" At this, William summoned the last of his strength.
His younger counterpart snapped his head at him, shocked by the tone. The older man fixed him with a steely gaze.
"Keep your head on." He managed the sentence between coughs. Arm outstretched, he held his gun belt out, Webley lying on the ground. "Take it."
Cautiously, Frederick took the revolver from its holster. Holding the weapons gingerly, he looked at William.
"Take care of it; family's had it since the Somme." William finished the sentence before coughing once more. He stopped long enough to address another important matter. "If I come back, you'll put me down?" The young man nodded slowly, tears forming in his eyes.
"You're a good lad. That uniform…consider yourself part of Her Majesty's Armed Forces now." He smiled, despite the immense pain. His scarlet-clad comrade gave another small nod, wiping his eyes clean. William didn't respond this time, what little strength left he used to prop his head against the concrete. His eyes locked onto the sky, dulling with each passing second. There were no more words, only ragged breaths passing through blood stained lips.
The Cambridge graduate looked on helpless as Williams life drained away. The Royal Marines chest gradually slowed in movement, until finally it stopped. At this, Frederick felt his legs turn to jelly as he came crashing down on his rear. He shifted slightly, right hand clutching the Webley. He wiped his eyes another time before looking at the body of his mentor and friend. If what William said was true, then he would come back. After all that happened so far, Frederick considered the next part to be the hardest.
With a hard pull, Saburo pulled the axe free. The now lifeless corpse dropped to the ground. He took a moment to catch his breath, ignoring that the front of his uniform was covered in blood.
Damn it, now where?
It had been like this ever since he ran from that mob. Not having a chance to tour the whole school, Saburo was guessing where to go, with little to show for it. He froze as a moan reached his ears. Turning towards the source, he noticed another former student shambling around. She could have passed off as a pretty track runner, if not for the blood covering her face and shirt. He silently cursed as he spotted five more Ghouls approaching the same way.
That leaves the hallway to my right. Where it led to was unknown, but Saburo figured it was better than trying to fight his way through. He had only taken a few steps before a horrible scream reach his ears. It was in front of him, around the hallways bend. Barely a few seconds passed, before he heard another one. This time, he heard a feminine voice cry out.
"Help me Misuzu!"
Saburo started moving forward, than stopped. Risking a look behind, he let out a soft curse. The Ghouls behind him had heard the exchange, and were now heading towards the source. Picking up his speed, he jogged towards the bend, heart beating inside his chest. Scared as he was, he wasn't about to leave another student to die.
"Girls, get back!"
Kyoko's warning caused the two girls to do so. It was just as well, as the advisor was grappling with another student. Bracing the pipe under its chin, she gave the male a shove back. She let out a small squeak of terror as he gripped the pipe and lunged forward. It became a struggle between the two, as Kyoko fought to keep her undead assailant away.
Behind her, the two girls looked on, unsure of what to do. Tentatively, Toshimi took a small step forward.
Something cold and hard clasped onto her arm. She turned her head, and screamed. It was a girl, one she recognized from physics. Toshimi stared into lifeless eyes, or would be if they weren't gouged out. The clasped hand tightened as the former student tried to pull Toshimi towards her snapping jaws. The still living girl shrieked again as she used her free arm to push against her attackers chest, keeping her head at arms' length.
"Help me Misuzu!"
Off to the side, her friend looked on. Focused on her survival, Toshimi did not see the look of utter fear and panic adorning her friends face. Misuzu stepped back, slowly shaking her head. Seeing both friend and teacher grappling with these monsters was too much for the teenager. She started running while turning around, intent on escaping. Too late, she noticed a shadow out of the corner of her eye. Too late, she turned to get a clear view. Too late, she threw her arms up as defense. Too late, she let out a blood curdling scream as the muscular form of Aritomo Teshima pulled her down.
Misuzu hit the floor with a sickening thud. Her heart pounded like a sledgehammer as Teshima brought his mouth down to her neck. She pushed with all her might against his chest, keeping his snapping jaws away.
Even without the death grip that brought the demise of many students, Teshima was still much stronger than her.
I don't want to die…someone help…oh god! All these thoughts were running through her head. A piece of flesh fell from the P.E. teachers' mouth; she could feel the wet, slimy object slid across her cheek. Her vision blurred as tears formed. Teshima leered closer, gaining ground as her arms weakened. The schoolgirl felt her heart jump to her throat.
For the first time since this madness started, Misuzu Ichijou felt helpless.
She closed her tear stained eyes, anticipating teeth tearing into her flesh. So withdrawn, she didn't hear a male letting out a war cry.
Kyoko finally knocked her attacker off balance. Stumbling, the undead student couldn't stop the pipe from crushing its head. The body had barely struck the ground before the adviser turned around to help her students. Running, she could see Toshimi struggling to break free of the monsters grip.
Pipe held high, Kyoko brought it down hard. There was a soft crack as the girls skull caved in. Toshimi shoved the now limp body off her. She opened her mouth as if to tell Kyoko something, before the color drained from her face.
Only now did Kyoko realize the two weren't side by side. Frantically, she looked further down the hall, and gasped at the sight.
Misuzu was on her back, still looking terrified at the unmoving corpse on top of her. There was another figure over the scared girl, pulling a fire axe free out of…
Teshima! The back of the skull was split open, but she recognized the outfit. She did her best to hold back any tears. Wiping her eyes, Kyoko looked up at the newcomer. The boy was of average height for his age, brown eyes looking at the carnage. She opened her mouth to speak to him, before her words were lost as Toshimi rushed past her.
"Misuzu, are you alright?!"
The young girl pulled her friend up; eyes full of worry as she checked for wounds. Her friend stood motionless, almost catatonic. Slowly, she looked at Toshimi, and started to cry.
"Toshimi…I…I'm so sorry." The pig tailed girl enveloped her friend in a hug. Tears covered Misuzus' face as she repeated the words in a small whisper.
"It's okay, I forgive you." Toshimi smiled, rubbing her friends back like a mother would to a child. Kyoko took her eyes off them to address the male.
"That was very brave. May I have your name?" The boys looked slightly shocked at such a formal request, given the setting. He gave a quick bow at the advisor.
"T…Tomonaga Saburo, homeroom 3-C. Thank you sensei." Nodding, Kyoko motioned him to come closer.
"Where were you going?" Saburo shrugged at her question. "Honestly, I have no clue. I have not been here long enough to know the schools layout, and the main entrance is filled with Ghouls."
She gave a brief look of confusion at his last word before resuming. "We're trying to get to the faculty room. My car keys are there. Will you come with us?" He gave quick nod, looking relieved at no longer being alone.
"Of course, but we ne..." Whatever else Saburo had to say was lost as a collection of moans came from behind. Both student and teacher turned towards the hallway.
"Damn!" Saburo cursed as more former students came around the corner. Kyoko was quick to grab everyones attention.
"Follow me!" Toshimi started to move, holding Misuzus hand, before Saburo called out.
"Stay in between us, you two don't have any weapons!" Toshimi only paused long enough to turn and nod, before moving quickly behind Kyoko. As the advisor led the group, she gave a silent farewell.
I'm sorry Aritomo. Rest easy now.
Frederick paid no mind to the sun beating down on him. Lying still against an air conditioner, his gaze was fixed on the body of William. Involuntarily, his right hand gripped the revolvers handle. His rifle was at his side, lying next to the duffel bag. Every now and then he heard gunshots, screams, or sirens. While his face was blank, his mind was a different story.
What the hell do I do now? Why is William dead and I'm not? This can't be happening.
All those thoughts died as William stirred. Fredericks' eyes focused on the body of the Colour Sergeant. Slowly, he raised his head. The same hellish moan the Englishman had heard today now came of out his friends' mouth.
"No. Come on Will, don't do this." His pleas went unanswered as William propped himself up with his arms.
Fredericks breathing froze, heart stuck in his throat. His friends face was drained of color, appearing gray and lifeless as every other monster. What were once sharp green eyes, there was now only a milky white. Williams' mouth hung open, letting out another hungry moan.
Slowly, the young rifleman raised the Webley. On impulse, Frederick cocked the hammer. The Webley trembled in his grip for a moment before steadying. The small notch at the end of the barrel lined up with Williams head. He drew a small breath, gently exhaled, then squeezed the trigger.
The gunshot pounded Fredericks' ears like a drum. Williams head jerked back by the bullets force. Bits of skull and brain matter rained off the side to the streets below. Dropping back down, the former Colour Sergeant lay motionless. Slowly, Frederick made his way towards the body. Tears formed as he stared at the corpse of his mentor. Dropping to his knees, he didn't care that the Webley fell from his grip.
Down below, the streets of the city were filled with death. The air was thick with the smell of smoke, fire…and blood. A police siren could be heard in the distance, while gunfire made occasional punctuations. The collective moans of Tokonosus' undead residents clashed with the screams and shouts of the still living. Amid the sounds filling the air, no one took notice of a solitary cry. It wasn't one of fear or pain, but of sorrow.
Authors Note: This marks the end of the first chapter of a story I have been brainstorming since reading HOTD. This project first took roots in the summer of 2011 during Hurricane Irene. The fact that it took two years to finally finish and proofread only highlights my lethargy in writing, and for that I apologize. Between job searching, GRE test preparations, and other projects, this story has taken a backburner. I still have plans to continue writing this, but it will take some time.
When I create original characters, I tend to use historical figures for their names. They are listed below.
Saburo Sakai: Fighter pilot for the Imperial Japanese Navy. Credited with 64 aerial victories, he was the second highest scoring Japanese ace still alive by the end of the Pacific War. Once flew from Guadalcanal back to Rabaul despite a severe head injury, a testament to human endurance. He passed away in 2000. I have yet to read his memoirs.
Joichi Tomonaga: A Lieutenant in the IJN, served aboard the aircraft carrier Hiryu. A competent pilot with experience over China, he led 108 aircraft of the Kido Butai(Mobile Force) that attacked Midway Island on June 4th, 1942. Later the same day, he led the second wave of Hiryu aircraft that attacked the USS Yorktown. He did this despite knowing it was a one way trip (his B5N2 Nakajima had one fuel tank punctured over Midway, with no time for repairs). He was shot down over the Yorktown, with the credit being given to Lt. Commander John S. Thach.
Frederick Fleet: Lookout employed by White Star Line. He was the lookout that spotted the iceberg that mortally wounded the RMS Titanic. Unfortunately, he committed suicide in the city of Southampton in 1965.
Sumner: I really have no historical figure to base the last name from. I picked it because it sounded English, and it is the last name of one of my pilots in IL-2 Sturmovik.
William Nichols: Again, the first name sounded English, the last name from a British paratrooper from Tom Clancy's novel Red Storm Rising.
I blended my passion for history with this chapter. Frederick is basically a rifleman from the Anglo-Zulu War. I know I took liberties with Japanese gun laws and reenacting, but given the setting I'll let it slide.
Once again, I appreciate any reviews. If you enjoy it, that's great. If not, I would like to know why so I can improve my writing. Mindless flames will be ignored or laughed at. I have my ideas regarding future pairings with characters, so I am all set in that department, thank you. Mindless reviews regarding 'One True Pairing' 'Shipping Wars' or 'Die for our Ship' will be given the same treatment as flames.