Chapter Twenty-Four

RATED M for suggestive language and cursing. Hey, it’s the Zombie Apocalypse, there’s gonna be some cussin’. 

Chapter Twenty-Four

 

“YOU KILLED HISASHI!”

Her scream echoed down the artificial canyons in every direction. Every walker in hearing distance turned their way.

Before Khota could turn to face Rei, she was on him, tearing at him with her nails and beating him with her fists.

“You killed him!” She screamed over and over again. “You killed him, you killed him, youkilledhim!”

Saya recovered from her shock, running to where Khota was trying to untangle himself from Miyamoto without hurting her. Saya wasn’t so gentle and grabbed her by the hair, yanking her head back.

“You stupid bitch!” she snarled, slamming the hilt of her bokken into Rei’s forehead. The red-head was stunned by the blow and rocked back on her heels, falling on her butt. Khota scrambled to his feet, bleeding from a dozen places on his face.

Takashi and Saeko had arrived by then, and Saeko’s eyes narrowed dangerously as she saw Khota bleeding. She turned a murderous gaze on Miyamoto but Takashi laid a hand on her arm to stop her.

“Not now, nee-saa!” he told her. Perhaps nothing else would have stopped her, but that did. She glowered at him, but nodded and held her hand.

“We have got to move!” Takashi told them. “Get going, all of you! Saeko and Saya take the lead and get us there.” He bent to take hold of Rei, and yanked her to her feet by her arm.

He didn’t bother to speak after looking into her eyes. Saya had rung her bell pretty good. It would have to wait. Dragging her along, he trailed the rest, Khota the only one behind him.

Only he wasn’t.

Looking back, Takashi saw Khota standing calmly in the intersection, rifle still hanging in his hands, waiting.

“Khota, come on!” he called as loudly as he dared.

“I’ll be along,” Khota told him, shouting so the walkers would hear. “Keep going!”

Before Takashi could say anything else, Khota lifted his rifle and fired. A flat crack boomed across the man-made valley of steel, glass and concrete and half a block away he saw a walker’s head explode in a red mist.

“Go!” Khota shouted again, then was shooting, this time far too fast for Takashi to count. But every time he fired, a walker hit the ground and stayed there.

Dragging Rei with him, Takashi ran.

HSOTD

Saeko heard the shots and knew what was happening, but kept going. She could only pray that Khota would escape and come to her. She knew what he was doing, drawing them to him.

Her rage simmered for Miyamoto however. Even as she dispatched the walkers that threatened those behind her, she promised herself that if anything happened to her beloved, then Miyamoto would perish by her hand before the day was out.

HSOTD

Khota wanted to laugh. It was crazy. One minute everything is fine, the next Miyamoto is screaming at him, tearing his skin and bringing every sicko in the neighborhood down on them.

He knew that there was only one way for this to work, and that was for him to make so much noise that the others could sneak away. He had started shooting long before any of Them had gotten close, making as much noise as he could.

He fired until his mag ran dry, then changed out and ran another. He was looking at a high end sports car that was still parked along the street, it’s owner likely either among the shambling wrecks on the street or else cowering in the buildings around. He really hoped that car had an alarm, because suddenly he really, really wanted to have sex with Saeko Busujima.

It was funny what stress made you think of as important. Anyone else might have thought “I really want to live”. But all he could think of at that moment was her soft lips and warm, hard body.

You fuckers are not killing me today, he thought to himself as he seated one last magazine, careful to shove the empties in a pocket. He fired about half that magazine as he moved to the sports car, and then kicked the car solidly in the door.

The piercing alarm filled the artificial canyon with a high-pitched screeching that would have woke the dead.

A fitting analogy, Khota decided as he began to wade through the now confused walkers, hoping to catch up with his girl.

Since he didn’t know where Rika Minami lived.

HSOTD

Saeko smiled to herself as she heard the alarm. That meant that Khota had not merely sacrificed himself for her and the others. He’d had a plan from the beginning. She should have expected that, and admitted that her fear for him had led her to overlook how smart he was.

“This way,” Saya called gently, pointing to their left. Stopping, she tried to think of what she could do to let Khota know where they went. It would have to get his attention but not give them away to others. She smiled suddenly.

“You have lipstick?” she asked Saya quietly.

“Huh?” Saya was nonplussed. “What the hell do you need lipstick for?”

“I need to leave Khota a message,” she told her friend. “He doesn’t know where we’re going.”

“Oh, right,” Saya looked embarrassed that she hadn’t thought of it. She turned to let Saeko have access to the small purse/pack she used at school.

“Outer pocket,” she told her. Saeko rummaged through small items until she produced a tube of light red shade.

“Thank you,” she said, waiting for the others to catch up. Saya continued, leading the way to Rika’s. Takashi came by last, still with Rei in his grasp.

“I’m sure he’s okay,” was the first thing he said. “What are you doing?”

“Trying to save Miyamoto’s life,” Saeko said darkly.

“You mean Khota’s don’t you?” Takashi looked confused.

“Khota will save his own, if it is to be saved,” she replied coldly. “If he does not, then Miyamoto will not live to see the sun rise.”

Takashi didn’t know how to reply to that, so he just nodded and continued on his way. Saeko waited until he was gone, then left a message that only Khota would understand.

HSOTD

Khota had hustled, quietly, away from the car alarm, afraid it wouldn’t last long. He hated running. It wasn’t that he couldn’t, because after making it through CAT, he most definitely could run.

He just hated doing it.

He had to be careful since the ruck on his back wasn’t packed careful enough to prevent rattling, and he had to make sure he didn’t bump into anything, either. There was a slight breeze blowing now and it felt good on his sweat covered body.

He crossed through an intersection and looked carefully both ways for any sign of his friends or of Saeko. Nothing. Shaking his head, he moved on.

He had hoped to catch up to the others but. . .it was looking like that wasn’t going to happen. Another street or two and they would have had time to move beyond his seeing them from where he was. He’d have to take a chance sooner or later, or else hole up somewhere for the night and hope they came looking for him tomorrow.

He couldn’t imagine facing the end of the world without Saeko.

He chuckled mentally as he thought about their relationship. He and Saeko didn’t have ‘pet’ names for each other the way Takashi and Saya did. They weren’t constantly holding hands, either, though he enjoyed that, oddly enough. In fact the differences between the two couples were probably more numerous than the similarities.

Maybe that was why they were all friends. Their differences made them a group. Khota cared for Takashi and Saya both like they were his siblings, and he knew Saeko felt the same way only not more so, having already had that kind of relationship when he met her. Khota didn’t have many friends, and almost no family considering his absentee parents. So Takashi and Saya held that place in his life. There wasn’t much he wouldn’t do for them, truth be told.

But there was absolutely nothing that he would not do for Saeko Busujima. He shook his head again at the wild irony of probably the most beautiful woman in all of Fujimi High actually being his girlfriend. It was crazy. Two years ago he was just a bullied fat kid who hated going to school. The last months he had loved every minute of it. He was no longer bullied, of course, but even if he had been. . .to spend every day with her, to see her every day. . .it would have been worth it.

Of course, now he might never see her again. Separated in this kind of world he might never be able to reconnect. . .suddenly it hit him. He didn’t know where Rika’s was, but he knew where they were ultimately heading.

And he knew how to get there. He knew where Takagi lived and he would find Saeko there if nothing else. He was so relieved that he almost didn’t see it. When he did he stopped short in the middle of the street, eyes wide for just a second.

In the middle of the intersection lay a pair of thong panties with a cat’s face on the front. He had given them to her to match the shirt she had ‘stolen’ from him to sleep in. He knew that she had been wearing them today because she had teased him about it before school started.

Of course, it wasn’t as if there was only one pair like that in the world, he knew. But the message left with them, written in what looked like red lipstick, made the odds much better in his favor;

<<<<<<<————-HERE, KHITY KHITY

Laughing as silently as possible, he stuffed her underwear in his pocket and turned left, following the arrow.

HSOTD

“That’s it,” Shizuka pointed up toward Rika’s door. “That’s her car,” she added, pointing to. . .

“What is that?” Saya asked.

“Her car,” Shizuka repeated.

“I meant-”

“Later for that,” Takashi whispered. “There’s already some occupants,” he pointed to where several of Them were bumping around the walkways outside. “We’re going to have to clear it.”

“Saya and I will go,” Saeko said gently, almost a whisper. “You need to stay here with that idiot,” she nodded at Rei, who flushed but knew better than to speak. She was still a little loopy from being whacked in the forehead, but smart enough to know Busujima was looking for an excuse to kill her.

“Please, I’m begging you, be careful,” Takashi whispered. Both nodded and Saya pecked his lips before following her ‘nee-saa’ up the steps.

“Move to the sidewalk,” he told everyone. “I haven’t see any traffic, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be any.” Everyone moved that way, hugging the wall of the small compound.

They could hear but not see as Saeko and Saya cleared the area around Rika’s apartment. The sickening sound of crushed skulls had become more and more familiar as the day wore on until now they hardly even winced when they heard it.

But they noticed when it stopped.

The gate opened again and Saeko held it back, motioning for them to go. Takashi went last, pulling Rei along none too gently. The further they had gone, the madder he had gotten. She had put the most important people in his life at risk.

Saeko waited until they were all inside before leaving one last message for Khota on the wooden wall surrounding the complex. Once done, she followed them up, leaving the gate slightly ajar for her soon to be lover.

Because if Khota made it back to her tonight, she would indeed be a woman when the day dawned tomorrow.

HSOTD

Saya fought a sigh as Shizuka struggled with the keys. The nurse was tired and had been on edge for most of the day. Saya hadn’t considered how hard driving the bus had been for her until she’d had her mini-meltdown. So, she forced herself to be patient as Shizuka finally got the right one and the door swung open. She turned the light on and Saya immediately reached inside and shut it back off.

“Not until we can close the door,” Saya said softly. “There might be someone other than Them around. We don’t want company.”

“Right,” Shizuka nodded and led the rest into the house’s interior. Saya waited for Saeko, sharing an all too brief kiss with Takashi as he drug Rei Miyamoto by and into the house.

Saya was tired too. She had worked hard today, and while most of it was mental, there had been a lot of emotional roller coaster riding, too. So many people that she knew dead. Wonder and worry about her parents, about Takashi’s mother at her school and who even knew where his father might have been when all this started.

She was worried about Khota, too. She knew that he could take care of himself. Hell, other than maybe Saeko he was the best suited of them all for this crazy shit. But. . .she still worried. As she watched Saeko finally come inside the wall, leaving the gate slightly open for him, she worried about her friend, too.

Saeko was an intensely private person. And though few knew it, she was extremely passionate as well. Even emotional. You just had to know her really well before her discipline would allow you to see it. And Saeko loved Khota Hirano’s crazy ass. With a passion that burned brightly for all that few knew it.

What would happen to her friend, strong though she was, if Khota didn’t show up? Or worse if they saw him staggering along like the freaks they had fought all day today? That really would be worse, because as long as he just didn’t show up, there was always the chance he was working to get back to her.

Would Saeko be able to bear losing him? Saya knew she couldn’t stand to lose Takashi. She’d probably go crazy, much as Miyamoto had. Saya hadn’t blamed her for losing it on the bus, and wouldn’t even have blamed her for hitting Khota, or Takashi if he’d been the one to put Hisashi down rather than letting him become one of Them.

But after all this time, knowing the danger they were in, to deliberately endanger all their lives? No, that Saya was having trouble forgiving. She had no idea what kind of world they would wake to in the morning, but she wanted to wake up and see it. See it with Takashi Komuro by her side.

And Miyamoto had endangered that.

“What’s wrong?” Saeko asked and Saya jumped, not having realized her ‘nee-san’ was so close.

“Nothing, just thinking,” Saya admitted. “You okay?” she asked gently.

“That has yet to be determined,” she admitted. “We shall see.” With that the taller girl traced a small heart on the door with what remained of Saya’s lipstick, then walked into the apartment. Saya took one last look around and then followed her, closing and locking the door behind her.

HSOTD

“There are three bedrooms,” Shizuka was saying. “And two baths. We can-” she stopped as Saeko took Khota’s pack from Morita and walked into the nearest bedroom, looked at it, and then walked to the next. That one apparently met with her approval as she deposited the pack on the bed.

“We’ll take this one,” she said simply and waited for anyone to challenge her. No one did.

Saya thought about it for a minute and then carried her own pack to the room that Saeko had skipped over, decided it would do for her, and did the same thing.

“And we’ll take this one,” she declared just as simply. Rei Miyamoto flushed, but remained quiet, still well aware of how thin the ice beneath her was.

“Well then,” Shizuka was grinning. “I guess I’ll take the last one. Or do you guys want it?” she asked Morita. “If you do I don’t mind,” she assured them even as Morita and Hitomi turned four different shades of red.

“We’re not. . .I mean we haven’t. . .I don’t. . . .” there was a chorus until finally they just stopped.

“Then I’ll take it,” Shizuka nodded. “Miss Miyamoto, you can stay with me if you want,” she smiled and Rei nodded jerkily. “You as well, Miss Taguchi,” she added to the newest member of their group.

“Thank you, sensei,” Miyamoto mumbled as Taguchi nodded politely.

“Oh, just call me Shizuka,” the blonde beamed. “Now, I’m going to take a bath. Girls?”

“I’ll wait,” Saeko shook her head. Saya looked at Takashi, clearly considering something, then looked at Saeko. The set of her friend’s face told her more than words might, and she decided that she would hold off on her own plans.

“I’ll come,” she told Shizuka, and then almost face-palmed herself at what she’d said before realizing no one would know any different.

“I think Rika will have something you can wear, Saya,” Shizuka headed for the bedroom she had chosen for herself. “Oh, you don’t mind if I call you Saya do you?” she asked.

“Not at all, Shizuka,” Saya replied, smiling. “I’d prefer it, in fact.”

“Thank you!” the nurse smiled brightly again. “Come on and let’s see what we can find!”

The other women followed her other than Rei, who just sat down on the couch. Morita cleared his throat and started moving, but a glare from Takashi froze him in his tracks.

“I’m going to take a look off the balcony,” Takashi told him. “We have to watch for Khota. Saeko left a sign for him so if he didn’t miss it he should be along. What time is it?”

“Almost five-thirty,” Morita checked his phone. “Still some light,” he noted.

“Just hang out I guess, until we see what they’re gonna do,” he told Morita, then made a hand signal that he should keep an eye on Miyamoto. Morita nodded and took a seat.

HSOTD

Saya found a skirt and blouse she really liked and set them aside. Saeko found a skirt that would show a lot of leg, but would let her move freely and decided to take it, adding a dark tee, wishing it was Khota’s CAT tee instead. She smiled softly as she thought about how Khota would frown at the idea of her wearing something so revealing as that skirt out where anyone but him could see it.

Nanomi looked but everything was too large for her. Hitomi was finally able to find a pair of slacks and a blouse that looked as if it would fit. Shizuka told them they could use the washer since it was very quiet, and everyone agreed they would launder their clothes, especially their underwear, to wear tomorrow. Borrowing skirts and shirts was one thing; underwear, even from someone you knew, was another thing all together.

Shizuka it turned out had clothes of her own already there, including a change of underwear and a bra all the girls were glad to see. No one wanted to imagine the reaction of the male population if Shizuka was walking around with those massive boobs unfettered.

Collecting Miyamoto, Shizuka headed to the bath with the rest, only Saeko opting to remain outside. She would be bathing later, but only with Khota Hirano. And being so close to Rei Miyamoto and a tub full of water was more temptation than she thought she could stand.

She saw Takshi on the balcony and went to join him.

“Anything?” she asked and he shook his head.

“Not yet, but. . .I’ve been checking the time and he hasn’t had long enough to catch up with us. If I’ve got it right from the time we heard the alarm, it’s another ten, fifteen minutes at least. And that’s assuming he could move as quickly as we did and not have to tiptoe through a bunch of Them.”

“And that he saw your sign,” he added, looking at her. She blushed slightly, but smiled every so minutely.

“He saw it,” she assured him. Takashi looked at her quizzically, but she would say nothing else. That was for her and Khota and no one else.

“They’re all in the bath so you can come in now,” she told him finally.

“Am I that obvious?” he grimaced.

“Only to Saya and I probably,” she told him. “Morita possibly, since he knows your history.”

“I just don’t know what to do,” Takashi shook his head. “If Hisashi was still here, she’d be his problem.”

“He isn’t so she’s yours,” Saeko shrugged. “And I don’t mean to over burden you, Takashi, as we seem to have thrust the mantle of leadership upon you, but. . .if she ever touches Khota again, I will end her. There will be no warning, no second chances, and no mercy. She will die by my hand as quickly as I can get to her. And if he doesn’t make it back to me, I will kill her anyway.” Unspoken but just as clear was the warning that it was in his best interest not to interfere.

“I understand,” he nodded. “I’m hoping to find her parents tomorrow, one of them anyway, and give her to them. It’s all I can do. Hisashi asked me to try and do that before. . .well, you know.”

“You’re a better person than I am,” Saeko admitted. “I would have refused.”

“He apologized to me,” Takashi shrugged. “He meant it, too, I could tell. He’s probably been trying to for a while, and I wouldn’t let him. I couldn’t take the chance.”

“Completely understandable, and nothing for you to beat yourself up over,” she nodded. “No one else blames you either. Hisashi made his choice. He had to live with the consequences.”

“I think he knew that, too,” Takashi nodded. “I think it’s why he was so sad when he was apologizing. Because he knew I’d been a good friend to him, and he wronged me. Twice,” he added.

“No,” Saeko smiled softly. “Only once.” He looked at her for a moment, and chuckled.

“It’s funny, but I’ve had that same thought since day one,” he nodded. “The first thing I thought when Miyamoto told me was ‘Hisashi you back stabbing prick, you did me a favor’. He actually did me two favors, since I was late to class the day he attacked me and got paired with Saya for a history paper. That paper led us to you and your father.” He paused.

“You know where your father is?” he asked.

“England,” she told him, shrugging. “For a tournament. As a guest judge and to present a seminar. I’m sure he’s fine, though the odds that I will see him again are. . .heavy. Khota’s parents are in Europe, in separate countries. He does not think much of their chances, especially his mother, assuming They,” she waved toward the street, “are there as They are here.”

“I tried my mom but. . .circuits are busy,” he repeated the message he’d heard a half-dozen times today. “She was at her school, so. . .no way to know and no way to go see. She could be anywhere by now, including being one of Them. Dad is who knows where. I think his last flight out of Japan went to Australia, but from there he could have gone to Europe, Saudi or India either one just as easy as flying back here. My odds are about like yours, there,” he admitted.

“You have Saya,” Saeko said simply. “Khota and I have each other. We will endure.”

“Yeah,” Takashi nodded. “We will.”

The two stepped back inside, leaving the door open.