Re-upoloaded chapters 1 and 7. With chapter 7 it was just a few error corrections that I didn't catch first time around. Chapter 1 I completely edidted, if you've already read it I haven't changed the overall content much. But now it's much better (in my opinion at least) found some areas that didn't really flow and revamped them.
Chapter eight is in the works, but, as I took a hiatus from this story, it'll be a bit until I get back into it.
Children of The DEAD
It was a while before I realized exactly what we were. At first I thought we were the survivors, the last hope of a dying world, the phoenix that would be reborn from the ashes of what once was. But the remnants of that world were consumed at the Takagi Mansion, and when nothing rose in that world's place, my answer lost its standing with reality.
It was only then, speeding down the road away from the last great gasp of civilization, that I realized it.
We are the Children of this world, the Children of the Dead.
"Sunset is coming,"
It was a simple statement of fact, an innocuous declaration of the time of day, yet it was laced with fear.
The night was their time.
Komuro nodded once towards Rei, and she sighed in relief, sending him a grateful wince that, once upon a time, might have been called a smile. Now that Komuro knew, something would be done about it, now that Komuro was working on it, everything would be fine. It was the unspoken mantra of their group, and Komuro knew it as well as anyone else. Crouching down so that he was inside the Humvee, he turned to Marikawa-sensei. "Take the next left," He instructed as they sped away from the flames and burning buildings that, only a scant hour before, composed the ancestral home of the Takagi clan. Without anyone to fight the fire, it spread unfettered through the dead city, lighting it up once more.
As Marikawa-sensei turned the Humvee down the street that Komuro indicated, she saw a horde of them blocking the road ahead. She eased her foot of the gas pedal, letting the Humvee roll quietly to a stop next to a burnt out school bus. "What should I do?" she asked Komuro. His brow creased, another question, another responsibility.
Komuro clenched his teeth, for a moment he was about to tell her to take a detour, take the next left further down the road and then loop around to their destination. But that would take time, and daylight was fading fast. You know what, he thought Screw it. He'd had enough of them. Had enough of tiptoeing around the once-humans which lined the streets of his home. His hand curled into a fist on the dashboard.
"Run them into the ground," He growled out.
She nodded sharply, flooring the gas pedal. "Everyone hang on tight," Komuro whispered. Tires screeched as the Humvee tore down the street. It's engine roared like thunder and the armored fender hit them like a sledge hammer, crushing them beneath its heavy tires with relish. For a brief second, the humvee was completely surrounded by corpses before they burst through the crowd, tires squealing as they sped down the road towards God knows where.
But that was a problem for tomorrow. Tonight the only thing Komuro had to do was get his family to safety. Pointing to a hotel sign that appeared a mile or so down the road he said, "Pull into that parking lot up there." Tomorrow would just have to wait.
"Wow," A sarcastic voice came from behind him, "You actually came up with a good idea," Turning around he saw Saya looking at him. Her face was composed, gaze sharp as ever, yet she seemed fragile, like she might crack under the slightest pressure.
Hearing her talking again, he couldn't help a small smile of relief from crossing his face, "I did my best while our resident genius was taking a break," He replied gently.
A wane smile flickered across Saya's face, and just like that everyone in the car relaxed. A small modicum of happiness spread around the vehicle. Even Saeko, who usually only gave smiles to Komuro, allowed a small smirk to illuminate her face.
Rei jumped down through the hole in the roof. She landed next to Komuro as Shizuka pulled the Humvee into the parking lot. "We made it," She said softly, wrapping her arms around him. Slightly surprised, Komuro hesitated only a second before returning Rei's embrace.
"Yeah," He rumbled, "We made it," His voice was equal parts relief and sadness as he remembered the ones left behind. He could only hope that Saya's father could lead his host of refugees to safety.
But all the same, they were still alive, by the grace of God they had survived another day.
Disentangling himself from Rei, Komuro took a breath, time to get going. "Okay everyone," He said, "We're going in. Saeko takes point, Rei and I on the sides, Hirano brings up the rear, and everyone else in the middle same as always."
"What about our supplies?" Hirano asked.
"We're taking everything with us," Komuro replied, "Marikawa-sensei, take the keys to the Humvee, kudasai." Every pilled out of the Humvee as quickly and quietly as possible, grabbing their packs of supplies as they went.
The parking lot was silent as a grave, empty save for a few of them that wandered aimlessly around the fringes. Quickly crossing the cracked pavement, Saeko and Takashi grabbed the two front doors and yanked them open for everyone to pass through. Once Hirano was inside they closed the doors gently as Rei, Hirano, and Saya, holding her newly acquired Luger, surveyed the entrance hall.
"Anything we can use to barricade the door?" Komuro asked softly, still facing the outside. After a quick visual sweep of the entrance hall Hirano shook his head.
"Nope," He replied, "This is a pretty standard hotel, nothing but the front desk and the gift shop. Our best bet is to just get to a higher floor and use some furniture to block of the stairs."1
Komuro nodded. Living in this neighborhood he'd been past this hotel many times before. Calling the layout to mind he ran over their options, suddenly a small smile appeared on his face. "Hey Saya, think you can get us the keys to the fancy suites on the top floor?"
She smiled as well, instantly picking up on his plan. "Of course, I'm a genius," she replied haughtily as she crossed to the front desk.
"Saeko, Rei," Komuro began, "Check the stairs, make sure none of them are hanging around." A few moments after they disappeared up the stairwell Saya returned with four keys.
"You wanted the keys to all of them right." She said. Komuro nodded.
"Let's go," he said. Without another word the rest of them continued up the stairs. Two flights up they encountered the first body, draped across the railing face down. They gave it a wide birth, Shizuka turning Alice's head away from it as they passed. Even without examining the body Komuro knew it was Saeko's handiwork, and he continued upward the stairs slightly faster than before, hoping she could keep control of herself.
Luckily, the rest of the stairs were clear, and they arrived on the top floor without incident where they met up with Rei and Saeko. The entire group assembled in the center of the hall as Saya gave the room keys to Komuro. "We have four rooms that take up this entire floor" He said, "The two each side of the hallway are connected to each other. So who wants what?"
Saya spoke immediately, "I want that one," pointing towards the south east suite, the only one that wouldn't have a view of her mansion, or what was left of it anyway. Takashi nodded, wordlessly giving her the key.
"Alice and I will stick with you." Shizuka added happily.
Komuro half expected a sarcastic remark on Saya's part, but the only response she gave was a quiet "Thank you." As the three of them entered Saya's suite she turned towards Khota, "Hirano," She said quietly, "Can you take the suite adjoining mine?" Khota, flabbergasted, could only nod disjointedly, a blush coloring his cheeks. Komuro tried in vain to suppress a smile as he handed Khota the room key. A second later the door thudded behind him, leaving Saeko, Rei, and Komuro standing alone in the hall.
Alone for the first time, an air of unease settled over the three of them. Komuro scratched the back of his neck awkwardly, and the other two looked almost as tense as he felt. Not wanting to make the situation any more uncomfortable, he silently held out the last two keys. Grabbing hold of his action like a life line Rei stepped forward, swiping one at random. "Come on Busujima-sempai, we'll share a room." At her words all three of them relaxed, tension evaporating. Both Saeko and Rei favored Komuro with one last smile before disappearing into their suite.
He looked down at the last key and realized that it was the one for the North West suite. Shit. Thinking of nothing he could do to avoid his fate, he opened the door to his suite, the suite with a perfectly unobstructed view of Takagi Manor.
The shades had been wide open, revealing a wall made entirely of glass. The suite had been designed to flaunt its spectacular view of the city. And one must admit that the view beyond was spectacular. Komuro, entranced by what lay beyond the glass, had approached the wall slowly. Now his hand rested lightly on the thin pane. It was cold to the touch, something that seemed impossible considering the sight before him.
On the other side of the window, less than a mile away, the city burned.
Great tongues of flame swathed the entire neighborhood where Saya's house had once stood. After consuming the mansion, the fire had spread with insatiable hunger from building to building until more than three square miles were caught in the blaze. With nothing to keep the fire in check, it had consumed a whole district. Only the wide streets and rivers that separated her community from the rest of the city saved them from the funeral pyre.
So bright it hurt the eyes to look at directly, the burning neighborhoods and buildings did not look like part of a city any more. They were all but submerged in the fire, nearly invisible. Wreathed in flames reaching twenty feet tall and dancing like demons, it appeared as a piece of hell, the capital of the necropolis that used to be their home.
And in the center of it all, atop a hill once covered with vibrant grass and dotted with a rainbow of flowers, sat the blackened remains of Takagi Manor. The fire had long since consumed that part of the city, leaving behind only scorched concrete and ash covered ruins. Even the stonework had crumbled beneath the intense heat.
Like the Phoenix, the world was burning to the ground so it could be reborn. Perhaps this time, whatever took the place of humanity would learn from their predecessors mistakes. Because, seeing the fire before him, Komuro knew that humanity as it once was would not rise from the ashes. Whatever emerged from this fire would be changed. Komuro couldn't help but wonder if he and his hadn't already been irrevocable warped. With no answer, all Komuro could do was watch a third of the city was cleansed with fire.
A light nock on the door broke Komuro out his trance. With a quick jerk, he yanked the wide curtains shut and, using a plastic cigarette lighter that he snagged from downstairs, he lit a few of the candles that sat around his room before opening the door.
On the other side stood Hirano. He eyed the minimal furniture in Komuro's room, namely a two beds, a large leather chair, a desk (which was part of the wall) and a mini-fridge. "Not much here either," He noted, Komuro nodded glad for the distraction from his morbid thoughts. Komuro nodded, remember their earlier conversation.
"Guess we won't be barricading the stairs then, huh"
Khota shrugged, "It's not really worth it, is it? The doors are already pretty thick to begin with. Nothing we could pile up on the other side would really affect how hard it is to force the door open." He said. "Besides, all the beds are bolted to the floor."
"Everyone seems too tired to work right now anyway." Komuro replied, "Here," he said grabbing one side of his desk chair, "We'll wedge this underneath the handle of the stairwell door. It's about all we can do in this situation." Khota nodded. Together they moved the chair out of the room and shoved it underneath the door handle to stop it from turning.
At the far end of the hall from Saya's room Komuro asked in a low voice, "How's Saya holding up?"
Khota replied in kind. "She's dealing. And Shizuka-sensei is really helping her cope. I think she'll make it through." Komuro sighed.
"Good." He said. "We'll have a meeting her suite tomorrow to discuss our next move,"
"Why her suite?" Khota asked. Takashi gave a pointed glance towards the North West corner of the building. "Oh," Khota paused for a second, "were the shades open?" Takashi nodded wordlessly. Khota put his hand on the other man's shoulder, "How are you holding up?" he asked.
"I'll live," was Komuro's reply, then the two of them went back to their respective suites. Sitting down on his bed Komuro could only stare at the drawn shades of his room, unable to forget what lay beyond. But right before the door to his suite swung shut a hand reached out and caught the heavy wood.
Komuro's head snapped up as a voice greeted him. "Komuro-kun," Saeko asked, "May we come in?"
Komuro looked at the door in utter surprise "We?" He asked not sure what to make of it.
"Yeah, 'we' as in us" Rei replied snarkily.
Komuro chuckled, "Sure thing," At this Saeko pushed open the door.
"How are you Komuro-kun?" she asked, somewhat suggestively, as she and Rei walked into the room. A slight brush colored his cheeks at her remark, but he quickly suppressed it. He gave them an amused smile in return.
As the door swung shut, Rei eyed the closed curtains with annoyance. Candle lit hotel rooms would be good for setting the mood if she and Takashi were alone. But for the three of them together- Rei suppressed a slight shutter. "Come on Takashi, open the curtains," She called playfully as she grabbed them. "Let in the moon light."
"Rei wait!" Takashi started, but too late. Unheeding, Rei threw the curtains wide. "What the-" She gasped out as the light of the fire spilled into suite.
Saeko flew to the window, eyes wide, "Impossible," She whispered, pressing her hands to the glass. The two of them stared, unbelieving, at the place they had just fled from, now reduced to a blacked ruin like something from the epicenter of a nuclear detonation.
Sighing sadly, Komuro crossed the room to stand behind them. "Pretty terrible isn't it," Neither of them responded, unable to wrench their eyes away. He put an arm around each of them, drawing the girls into a tight embrace. The two of them turned and clung to him, eyes still locked on the burning city, like they were drowning and he was their lifeline. Komuro should know, he felt exactly the same way. Together, the three children of the dead watched, enraptured by the dancing flame that claimed the center of the city as its own.
The flames taught me something, or perhaps watching them simple reminded me of what I already knew. It was a sight to behold, the fire dancing across the city that had once been my own, a sight more beautiful and terrifying than words can describe.
As the three of us stood there, clinging desperately to one another while we witnessed the death of our world, I remembered something very important.
High School of the Dead
Children of the Dead
1)When Komura asks if there's anything they can use to barricade the front door of the hotel- Modest Japanese hotels don't have a bunch of furniture in the foyer like western hotels do. Like I said in the text, the front rooms are pretty much empty except for the check in desk and a gift shop. The overall size of these foyers (in my limited experience with Japanese hotels) is about the size of your average family room.