Stories, comedy, comics, essays, and stuff

12

Mari looked at her hands while she sat on the ground, her back up against the wheel of the blue and white police bus. Could she be infected? She turned her hands over, front to back, and back to front, and over again. Her hands gave no clues, but they gave her a focus as she considered possibilities. It was hard to believe. Everyone else she had seen become infected turned insane in seconds. Maybe she was immune. Growing up, everyone had always said she was exceptionally healthy. She couldn't even remember being sick before. But not catching many colds or fevers seemed insignificant compared to a plague. Still, the nurse and Morioka Sensei seemed to think it mattered that she was on the train around when it seems the infection started.

Beside her, standing with one arm placed against the side of the bus as if it helped him get a literal feel for the surrounding situation, and talking with urgency to other soldiers and the officer in riot gear, was Morioka Sensei. Mari felt a little foolish now, thinking that he was saving her from the hospital because he wanted her to be safe. It wasn't just that she perceived a kind of fatherly, caring quality about him. It was that she had grown up with people who spoke about her as if she was special. It was part of the life she was trying to get away from, but it wasn't enough to have just physically moved. She recognized that she had habitual ways of thinking that she was unwittingly bringing with her. It wouldn't do to think that way now. She no longer lived on the temple grounds, the real world was harsher. Maybe there was something to what they said back at the temple, that people on the outside of their beliefs, the "consumerites", only took care of you so long as they needed something from you. Especially now.

Like Morioka Sensei. What did he want to do with her? Was he going to run tests, keep her against her will in some medical facility? Might going with him just be trading the immediate threat of death for a prolonged captivity? Although Morioka seemed like he only had the best of intentions, there was a pragmatism about him that scared Mari. She had no doubt that if it came down to it, if he had to cut her open on an operating table for the chance to save thousands, if not millions, of lives, then he would. And as much as she understood the greater good of that decision, that anyone rational would make that choice, rationality doesn't sit so well if it's you on the operating table.

She looked around the area, scanning for her options. She no longer felt safe around these men. Safer than she would have been without them, yes, but eventually they were going to take her somewhere she didn't want to go. She resolved that if the chance came up, she would run.

The bus they were hiding behind was parked on a part of the road that went over a small river. The river, like many in Tokyo, had been fortified with concrete on both sides, so it was more like a canal, and the road going over it was flat and had not much to indicate that it bridged over some water. Just beyond the bus was an intersection that had a pedestrian overpass that spanned all four corners, forming a square of walkways. There were a dozen or so soldiers and police, shooting back toward the hospital and monitoring the situation below them.

Inside the intersection there was another blue and white police bus, with metal grates over the windows, and one police SUV that had metal plating all around it. There were also a few police cars, and a motorcycle. There were yellow and black metal barricades, essentially long poles that at intervals had flat bands of metal sticking out in four directions, so that they formed an X shape if viewed from either end. They had been distributed haphazardly, and now had been jostled by everyone so that they were essentially scattered randomly. Mostly on the other side of the police vehicles and barricades was a large crowd of people, held back by two rows of police in full riot gear with clear plastic shields. Up until recently, they only had to try and stop people from getting close to the hospital and overwhelming the efforts of the authorities to establish a base of control. Now that people were coming out of the hospital, it was unclear what line they should be holding, and there was a confused mixing of people and police.

ここから離れなさい!感染者がいます!今すぐこの場所から逃げてください!"Leave the area! There are infected in the area, so you must leave the area immediately!"

One officer up on the pedestrian overpass was screaming into a bullhorn at the people below, but while a handful of people ran, and others tried but got caught in the crowd, the vast majority were locked in a collective indecision. For most, if not all of them, they had escaped from somewhere just as dangerous, so it was unclear where they would go even if one couldn't stay here. At least here, with the police and soldiers in the area, had some semblance of authorities trying to maintain social order. Mari couldn't clearly see the whole crowd from where she was, but she had seen them earlier, and she knew they were like a bomb waiting to go off. If one infected breached the line, then this area would be overwhelmed.

She could see that one of the roads, the one just around the corner from where she was, seemed a little more empty than others. There were a few cars, just regular civilian cars, bunched up near the intersection, one of them turned over on its side. Some kind of hasty barricade had been formed, and there were bodies that had been shot scattered among the vehicles, but it was now abandoned. On the other side, the road seemed mostly clear. If she could get through just one corner of the intersection, she was sure she get past those cars, and then she might be able to get... somewhere. Unlike anyone in the crowd who might have hoped for some kind of sanctuary among the police and soldiers, Mari felt that the only safety was to be as far away as possible from all of it.

横須賀の自衛隊病院に暫定感染症研究所が設置されている。今すぐそこに行かなければなりません。大事なものを運ばなくてはならない。"There's a provisional military disease research centre at the military hospital in Yokosuka. I need to get there right now. I've got something important." Morioka's last sentence caught Mari's attention. Was she the important thing he needed to take somewhere? A research facility?

今、警視正が来ます。"The superintendent is on his way," the officer said back, his tone and demeanour surprisingly calm, given the circumstances. While he spoke to Morioka Sensei, a radio receiver clipped to his body armour, up between his chest and shoulder was constantly squawking with urgent and, to Mari, incomprehensible electronically distorted voices. The officer was keeping one hand near the receiver and his head tilted to it slightly, indicating he was keeping close attention.

待っている時間はない!"We don't have time to wait!" Morioka Sensei shouted, as much to be heard over all the noise as to express his frustration. There seemed to be more noise coming from the crowds near the intersection, a swelling of screams and shouts, coming together to form a sound similar to the crowd at a soccer stadium.

許可がなくては、動かせません!"I can't move this bus without permission," the officer said back. Just as he did, there was the sound of scattered bullets hitting the other side of the bus, making everyone duck instinctively, even though the bullets wouldn't be able to go through the bus. As everyone came up out of their defensive crouch, Morioka looked at the officer with a pointed expression, as if the bullets and their implication made the point of urgency for him.

仲間を置き去りにはできません。"I can't just leave my fellow officers behind," the officer said with a calm finality. Morioka Sensei pursed his lips, clearly frustrated, but the officer's loyalty to his comrades simply could not be negotiated. Morioka stepped to the side for a moment, looking into the intersection. There were other cars there, but they were surrounded by people and would almost certainly be impossible to get free. On top of that, there was more chaos than before, the police seemed to have lost control of the line.

One of the soldiers stepped from the other side of Mari to speak with Morioka. He was one of the soldiers covered in black, and had a radio as part of the gear strapped to his chest. Much like the officer's radio, the voices emerging from the speaker were incomprehensible to Mari, but the soldier clearly was alarmed.

感染者が裏にいるぞ!"The infected have broken through on the other side!"

裏だって?"Other side...?" Morioka asked.

本当です。明治通りに面して、病院にはもう一つ出口があります。そこから感染者がこちらへ向かっているんです!"It's true!" The officer said, looking up from having been listening to his own radio. "There's another entrance to the hospital on Meiji Street. They're coming this way from the other side of the intersection!"

The crowd on the other side of the intersection barricade was going to turn into a mass of infected, trapping everyone in the intersection between that crowd and the ones coming from the hospital.

みんな、バスに乗れ!警察官達を呼べ、バスを回して、できるだけ乗せるんだ!"Everyone, get on the bus!" Morioka Sensei called out. The police bus had doors on both sides, midway down the length of the bus. One of the soldiers immediately opened them and stepped in. The officer took a step as if he might say something about it. Morioka turned to the officer and put a hand on his shoulder to conduct his message in a tone that he hoped acknowledged the officer's concerns, attempting to preclude having to negotiate further. "Call the other officers, we'll take as many as we can while we get the bus turned around." The officer held for just a moment, processing conflicting impulses to continue following his last known orders and adapting to the new circumstances. He reached for his radio while simultaneously getting on the bus indicating he agreed Morioka's plan was the best compromise.

Mari found herself being grabbed by the upper arm by another soldier and pulled along into the bus without regard for her own pace. Inside, it smelled like a locker room, nervous sweat and old musty equipment. It was more barren than Mari would have guessed. Not that she had any idea what else should be there, but it was just rows of hard bench seats like you’d see in a school bus, though everything was in a somber pale grey colour, and chrome metal. Near the back were some large lock boxes, and in racks above the seats were scattered items like helmets and elbow guards and straps for carrying gear. The thin metal bars protecting the windows made it a little hard to see out unless you were close to them. Mari wasn't told where to go, but she headed toward the back of the bus and sat a couple rows away from the rear of the bus.

Two other soldiers got on the truck, and then the officer in riot gear followed. He went to the front of the bus and took the driver's seat, and put the idling engine into drive which caused the whole bus to shudder. The soldiers positioned themselves around the doorways to defend against any possible breaches. Morioka Sensei stayed standing in the middle of the bus, the position that gave him access to address anyone on the bus with equal access.

The bus reversed, and hit something hard like a streetlight or stone wall with an impact that caused everyone to falter. Mari grabbed the seat in front of her to protect herself from being smacked into it. Morioka stumbled a little but managed to stay on his feet, holding onto the edge of some seats for balance. No one on the bus was even remotely wondering what they might have hit. It was understood that the bus was going to have to manoeuvre into a position where they could drive away, and it wasn't going to be easy. The bus moved forward, swinging hard to the left, in a direction that would turn the right side of the bus and the doors everyone had just come through facing toward the intersection. The officer driving stopped, and reversed a little, and then pushed forward just a little more. The constant abrupt stopping and starting made Mari feel a little nauseated.

ドアを開けろ!連中を呼んでくれ!"Open the door! Get my guys in here!" the officer driving yelled back as he jumped out of the driver's seat and came toward the side door.

誰を運転できるやつはいるか?"Can anyone drive the bus?" Morioka called out, addressing the soldiers.

はい!"Yeah!" one of the soldiers in green fatigues near the middle door said. The officer looked at Morioka with concern as he approached the door.

君たちの仲間は待つ、ただ備えるだけだ"We'll wait for your guys, but we need to be ready," Morioka said. The officer thought a moment, then nodded, and went to the door as the soldier who said he could drive the bus headed to the driver's seat. As the officer stood in front of the door, the remaining soldier guarding it readied his rifle against anything that might be on the other side.

Mari shifted across the stiff vinyl of the bench seat so that she could get close to the window and see outside though the protective metal grate on the other side of the glass. Her window was facing the intersection, and she could see that there was now no clear line of police holding back the crowd anymore. There were people, police, police cars, barriers, and the occasional soldier in the intersection all mixed together. Everyone seemed to be pushing at everyone else to go in a different direction than they wanted. The police pushing at people to not come through the intersection, people pushing at the police to be let through, and everyone jostling and pushing just as a reaction to having been pushed by someone else. It didn't seem like anyone inside the intersection was infected yet. The sound was muffled from where Mari was, but she could make out screams and yelling, a panic just beyond what she could see. There were still gunshots going off nearby, but none inside the intersection itself. There were still too many non-infected in the intersection for indiscriminate shooting to be justified.

There was a banging on the door from outside that surprised everyone, but the soldier guarding it didn't fire when he flinched. Morioka Sensei, the officer, and the soldiers looked among themselves. Mari, though, was apart from the group interaction, as no one concerned themselves with her or her reactions. The banging continued again, and it was clear from its rhythm and intensity that it wasn't an infected banging frantically and erratically, it was a person trying to get attention. The soldier opened the door, with a little caution because there was no room to be entirely confident about anything.

砲塔の前を塞ぐな!"You're blocking the gun turret!" A soldier in a green uniform yelled frantically from just outside the door.

君たちが動けないのか"Can't you move it?" Morioka yelled, leaning toward the doorway.

ダメだ!後ろのガード・レールが邪魔している!"We can't! There's a guard rail behind us!"

ちっくしょ!バスを回せ、交差点から離れるぞ!君たちを待っている…でも、速くしてくれ"Goddamn it!" Morioka Sensei said. "Alright, turn the bus around, we've got to move away from the intersection!" he called out to the driver. Then, before the officer could raise any objections, "We'll wait for your guys, but move quickly!" The officer nodded his assent and jumped out of the bus, yelling something Mari couldn't make out, presumably to call his comrades over.

The bus started lurching back and forth, turning as it did, but seemingly not making any progress. On top of not having much space to manoeuvre, and the stress of having to rush or be potentially killed, it also seemed like the soldier driving wasn't too familiar with this kind of vehicle, causing even more awkward motion. There was a confusion near the door, officers and soldiers in and around the bus, yelling directions, trying to convey which way the bus should turn next. At the same time, Morioka Sensei was having to talk to one police officer, and then another, as they came and went, asking why the bus was moving at all, where it was going next, and who gave permission for it to move. Now and again a civilian would make it up to the bus and ask to be let on and one of the soldiers would aim their rifle, telling them they had to leave, which would usually result in everyone screaming at each other. It was chaos, and Mari's confidence in the soldiers and police to keep her safe from the infected was dropping. In the movies, it seemed like military and police did everything with such efficiency and clarity. Watching them struggle to turn a bus around while all around them no one was maintaining any order made them seem less like archetypes and more just like regular people in uniforms. Mari looked around the bus, noting the door near the front, the door on the side midway down the bus, and behind her, above, there was a hatch on the ceiling. Ordinary people couldn't be relied on to save her, she had to keep looking out for herself.

There was loud bang outside, and Mari recognized it as being like the explosion that killed Noriko in the club in Shibuya. A bomb had gone off not too far from the bus. The pressure wave caused the whole bus to vibrate as if a large hand had slapped it on the side. If felt like the air became thick for just a moment in which Mari's ears felt like they were underwater and nothing could be heard except low rumbling echoes. Then, everything changed back just as quickly and Mari could hear a change in the type of screaming outside. Before there was an aggression to it, as everyone was yelling at everyone else to have their way. To be allowed through, to listen to orders, to get control over themselves or others. Now there were more plaintiff cries for help, and because of a primal response to a sense of helplessness. Mari peered out through the metal grates again, and saw that it looked like a hole had been scooped out of the crowd in the intersection. There were limbs and bloodied bodies scattered everywhere, broken survivors screaming, at least one police car on fire, and a grey smokey haze filling the void.

As if the smoke were a curtain being raised to reveal people on the other side, the grey ashy wisps of smoke cleared, and Mari could see what seemed like a wall of people rushing forward. Their dilated pupils and growling faces couldn't be made out clearly from Mari was, but there was no doubt that it was a mass of infected from the way they ran forward. They didn't seem to be interested in stopping to attack anyone too blown apart from the bomb blast, instead running over them in favour of people still uninjured. There were riot police in amongst them, and also uninfected riot police who tried to use their shields and long poles to beat people back, but it wasn't anything like controlling a riot. The relentless mass of people could not be held back, and most riot police found that their gear made it hard to get scratched and bitten, but only so much, so after they were knocked to the ground, the fight before ultimately being ripped apart would just be longer than for other people.

The soldiers near the truck started firing their machine guns indiscriminately into the crowd. There was firing all around. Mari could feel what she assumed was the turret on the military vehicle behind the bus firing, as it caused the whole back of the bus to vibrate. Outside, she could see bodies torn apart by the bullets, but people kept coming.

A riot officer rushed into the bus, stumbling in through the door. Mari couldn't tell if it was the same one as before. His helmet was off, his uniform was dusty, he was much more panicked than the officer before. But maybe that was because he had been transformed by the last couple of minutes.

行け!乗れ!逃げろ!行け、行け、行け!"Go! Drive! Let's get out of here! Go, go, go!"

爆弾は誰が仕掛けたんだ?"Whose bomb was that?" Morioka Sensei yelled, grabbing and holding the officer by both shoulders to focus him.

やつらだった"It was them," the officer said, speaking as if falling away to somewhere else in his mind. Morioka Sensei let the officer go, and the officer stumbled a bit, but then rushed to the front of the bus to take over driving. Morioka Sensei held for a moment, lost in thought about the implications. That a soldier became infected and might have had a grenade of some kind on him, that was believable. But did it just go off by accident? Did an infected soldier use it with intent? Were they more than just panicked, rabid infected lashing out? None of the answers changed the situation for the moment. They had to leave. Now.

行くぞ!もう何も待つな!ドアを閉めろ!"Go! Don't wait for anything!" Morioka Sensei yelled out, though it was largely a redundant command in that everyone on the bus were already committed to that plan. Morioka went for the door to close it, but as he reached it, two more police officers dove in, and then they were quickly followed by another two soldiers, firing their guns as they backed into the bus. Once they were on board, the bus lurched forward. "Close the doors!" Morioka Sensei yelled out, as a wave of infected came at the bus.

The bus lurched forward, and then slammed to a halt that knocked everyone forward, and anyone standing fell to the floor between the rows of seats. The bus had slammed into something, a car or a one of the metal railings that lined the sidewalks.

逆だ!逆に行け!"Reverse! Back it up!" the soldier beside the driver screamed. He was looking at something outside the bus that alarmed him, but Mari couldn't see what it was from where she sat. The bus reversed quickly, banging into something behind it. Everyone was braced this time, it seemed there would be a lot of crashing into things on the way out of the area.

The infected coming from the intersection hit the side of the bus like an ocean wave crashing against rocks. The whole bus tilted to the opposite side, and Mari slid in her seat a little toward the centre of the bus. The bus didn't roll back as much as everyone inside braced for. It shook back and forth a bit, but, it was steadily progressing in one direction.

押し倒されずに行けそうか?"Can they push it over?" Morioka shouted out to anyone who might have an answer.

分からん!"Fuck if I know!" the officer driving yelled back.

やつらにチャンスを与えるな。窓から射てるか?"Let's not give them the chance!" Morioka then turned to the soldiers. "Can you shoot them from the windows?!"

ダメだ!金属ガードがある!"Not with the metal guards in the way!" One of the soldiers yelled back. Mari was sliding into the middle of the bus, so she put her legs out to brace herself against the chairs on the opposite side.

閃光弾を使うのは?"What about a flash-bang?" yelled one of the officers.

やってみよう!ドアから射って、スペースをつくれ!“Try it! Shoot from the door, create some space!" Morioka called out. Some soldiers poked their guns through the middle of the folding doors on the side of the bus, one near the top and one near the bottom on either side, and fired a few rounds. Then they pulled the door a little more open. The infected outside were trying to get in, so it was a matter of not allowing the doors to open more than they needed. The guns, as hoped, had provided a little space. Just as the door got barely open, an officer pushed a black canister the size of a thermos through, quickly followed by another that he took a moment to activate. They hissed with a small amount of smoke before he got them out the doors, and there was no immediate sound. As soon as both canisters were out, he fell back, and the soldiers forced the doors closed.

Two loud bangs in quick succession, with lights like camera flashes outside the windows, slapped against the bus again, though nowhere near as powerful as the bomb that had gone off earlier. Partly they were muffled by all the bodies on the outside of the bus. As soon as the two bangs went off, the bus dropped and everyone was once again thrown in directions they didn't anticipate as the bus suspension rocked in random shudders.

行けるか?"Can you go?" Morioka yelled. As an answer, the driver floored the engine and the bus lurched forward, but didn't pick up speed or slam into anything. It seemed to go only a metre or two and then slow and lurch again as the driver braked.

人だ!人が多すぎる…!"There's people! Too many people...!" The driver called back. The engine revved as he tried to push forward anyway. Then he reversed and the bus did more of the same motion in the opposite direction, then hit something hard behind them. Everyone was knocked backward.

諦めるな!"Keep trying!" Morioka called out, but then there was a loud flash, and another explosion from somewhere near the front of the bus. Unlike the previous explosion, this one rumbled loudly over a few seconds instead of a momentary dull thud, and there was more of a fiery orange light filling the cabin of the bus. The driver screamed as the door near the driver's seat blew open and shards of glass and metal cut through him. A few burning pieces of shrapnel came through and lit the fabric of his uniform. The soldier near the door had managed to duck out of the way behind a metal partition just beside the door and was unaffected. He jumped up and went to the driver to help him put out the small embers of fire.

救急車がバスの隣で爆発した!もう、動けない!"An ambulance exploded beside the bus!" The soldier at the front called back. Then he confirmed what what no one wanted to hear out loud. "We can’t move!"

Image: blog_high_heels

High Heels

Do I fetishize high heels as much as I feel I do?

Image: blog_i_hate_this_feeling

I Hate This Feeling

I turn into a misogynist every time a hot chick walks into the room.

Image: blog_she_cries_beautifully

She Cries Beautifully

What I'm thinking when I stop talking in the middle of a fight.

Image: blog_sansa_and_ramsay

Standup Game of Thrones and Rape Culture

Another reason why so many jokes about rape fail.

Image: blog_following_the_angels

Following the angels

My very specific and personal reasons for moving to Tokyo.

Image: blog_halfway_dead

Halfway dead

I think I fucked up my life.

Image: blog_the_dating_puddle

The dating puddle

Things I've learned about dating twenty years too late.

Image: blog_ymiaft

ymiaft

My book about how I think humour is processed in the human brain.

Image: spark_coffee

Spark

A story about artificial intelligence, love, and authenticity.

Image: blog_mari

Mari

My hack zombie apocalypse novel. Fuck it, it was fun to write. I hope you have fun reading it.

Image: blog_i_eat_my_loneliness

I eat my loneliness

What's a blog for if not to be embarrassingly revealing?

Image: blog_who_his_daughter_dates

Who his daughter dates

Based on a real and random conversation with a guy about his daughter and age and dating and stuff.

Books I've written

My Instagram

I mainly use this to post pictures of random things I come across that amuse me. Maybe if I made a thing and I want you to see it. Anyway, I try to avoid "look how awesome my life is" pictures.

My Twitter

I use this mainly to post links to things like when I've updated my blog, or maybe mentions of me in other places, and that sort of thing.