Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Our Courage, Chapter One (part c)

While Takeru was being battered by this hopelessness, Yamato also stood on the edge of the abyss.
Finally he’d found Kiichi’s house. But there was no one there. Not Kiichi, nor his father, nor his mother.
Yamato stood inside, unable to bear looking at the terrible sight. The living room, the kitchen, Kiichi’s bedroom - all were abandoned.
What the hell happened here? Where - where had everyone gone?  
Sunset found Yamato at a loss, sitting all alone on the embankment next to the ocean. The exhaustion suddenly flowing through his body made it impossible to stand.
Everything was too incomprehensible - whatever happened to Makuhara? Where were all the adults? And what about Kiichi?
Suddenly a voice said, “Haven’t seen you before.”
Turning around, Yamato saw two boys. They scowled at him. Glaring eyes, filthy clothes. Clearly younger than him.
“Where’d you come from?”
“West. I’m looking for a friend.”
At his answer they smiled derisively.
“A friend? Here?”
“He’s called Hara Kiichi. Do you know him?”
As the boys kept sneering, Yamato started to walk away.
“Wait. Hand over your bag.”
“Give me a break.”
Yamato refused in a low voice. Then one of the boys pulled out a knife.
“What on earth happened here?” Yamato asked.
“Shut up and hand it over.”
As soon as he’d said it, one of the boys grabbed Yamato’s bag.
“You’ll figure it out sooner or later, what happened here. Have fun.”
In an instant, their smiles froze. Looking up the path, a figure could be seen pointing a handgun in their direction. Piercing eyes, head covered with a white bandana, a lovely girl clad head to toe in military clothes. Yamato’s age, or maybe a little older. Behind her stood the boy with the dog.
“It’s fine, isn’t it, Yuuri? He’s from somewhere else.” The boy who’d grabbed Yamato’s shirt smiled charmingly. But the girl called Yuuri kept pointing the gun.
“We get it!” Finally they closed the knife, and threw Yamato’s bag at his feet.
“Thanks. You saved me,” Yamato thanked the girl after the boys had left.
But before his eyes, the boy with the dog instantly took his bag. It seemed Yuuri’s side had also only been after one thing.
Carrying his bag, her face did not change when he called after her.
“Do you know a guy named Kiichi?”
Her expression shifted almost imperceptibly.
“Who the hell are you?”
“You’ve got a dirty mouth for a girl.”
“I’m a boy.”
“I’m not a girl.”
Looking at her face as she spoke flatly, Yamato didn’t understand but said, “I see.”
“You a friend of Kiichi’s?”
Yamato nodded. Yuuri tossed his bag back, and jerked her chin.
“Come on.”
Yamato was brought to a school. No, it’d be better to say it used to be a school. A barricade had been constructed on all sides, and inside the building it was a ruin. Garbage was scattered all over the gym, and in one corner was Kiichi.
Kiichi stood up, beyond surprised. “What are you doing here?”
“What do you think? I was worried about you,” and with glee he threw himself at Kiichi.
After a while of their joyful reunion, Kiichi handed Yamato a bottle of water.
“Drink this. Water’s not something I’d think about, but they’ve shut off the water supply so it’s precious.”
“Shut off?”
“Yeah, I don’t get it either.”
“What are you doing? In a school?”
“I live here now. Go ahead, laugh. I’d always be the one playing hooky and now I’m sleeping in a classroom.”
But Kiichi wouldn’t answer that question.
“Is everyone healthy? How’s Suzuko?”
“They’re fine. Everyone’s worried about you. But more importantly, Kiichi, where is your mom and dad?”
A dark shadow crossed Kiichi’s face in an instant, and his tone changed to something intense.
“Why did you come here? Why’d you have to come to a place like this!”
“What’s wrong with that? I travelled for a week because of you!”
“Stupid... You’re really an idiot.”
At that moment, Yuuri - who had been sitting in a corner listening closely to their conversation - opened her mouth.
“Why don’t you talk properly? You’re friends, right?”
“That is...!?”
Looking out over the view spread out below, Yamato’s breath was taken away. They were on the roof of the school. Dusk was falling. Yamato, Kiichi, and Yuuri were surrounded by the same total silence.
“What is that?”
Far below their eyes, at the corner of a group of buildings, was a huge crater-like hole.
“It’s a meteorite,” Kiichi murmured.
“A meteorite?”
“About ten days ago, it fell over there.”
“OK, but what’s that got to do with anything? A meteorite fell and?”
Yuuri opened her mouth. “It’s no ordinary meteorite. We think it carried microbes.”
“From outer space. That’s what killed all the adults.”
Yamato’s expression froze at Yuuri’s words.
“These microbes isn’t airborne. But when it enters the human body, it will take your life.”
“That’s what the bunch outside told us.” Kiichi gave a small sigh.
“I heard there was an earthquake here...”
“Yeah? They must be saying everyone died in an earthquake. The dirty bastards,” Yuuri spat out.
Yamato asked, “But how is it only the children are still living?”
“Maybe... it’s only until we become adults?”
“What are you saying?”
“I don’t really know,” Kiichi shook his head slightly. “The facts are, only children survive, and all of the adults died. Mori - the boy with the dog - his father and mother both died in agony. And not just him, all of the survivors here are the same. Their parents have died before their eyes, and all they could do was watch silently. This is a town of just kids!”
Spitting out the words, Kiichi’s face contorted in sorrow.
“So what you’re saying is, the microbe from that meteorite is in my body...?”
“That’s why I said, why did you have to come to a place like this?” Kiichi yelled.
“You two have a seriously messed-up friendship,” Yuuri muttered, but Yamato only heard her as if from a great distance.
There was the sound of small footsteps running, and the three turned, startled. It was Mori, out of breath.
“He died. Takeshi’s father.”
In the plaza, there was the figure of Takeshi clinging to his father’s remains. Yamato and the group of children watched the scene wordlessly. Unable to bear it, Yamato walked away, pushing Suzuko’s number on the cell phone. It didn’t work.
“It won’t connect.”
He turned to see Takeru.
“Inside here, cell phones and public phones won’t connect to the outside. They’ve all been shut off.”
“Why would they do that?”
Saying that, Takeru shouldered his own backpack. He was clearly upset.
“I’m going home. This is a joke.”
Everyone watched while Takeru, having declared this, started to walk in the direction of Tokyo on the highway.
But the way was barricaded by a solid gate of iron boards. A glaring spotlight turned, and guards on top of the gate holding guns cast ominous shadows.
“Open up! I said open!” Takeru pounded on the gate.
“Be quiet. Quiet!” A guard’s angry shout came from a loudspeaker.
Takeru continued hitting the gate.
“Open it! Let me out! I’m not from here. I don’t belong in this city!”
“Don’t make a fuss. Do as you’re told!”
Without paying attention, Takeru kicked and threw his body against the gate.
“Stop kidding! Hurry up and let us out!”
“Step away from the gate. Stay back!”
“Don’t you know people are alive? There’s a huge group of survivors in here!”
Suddenly, there was a dry sound, and bullets hailed down around Takeru’s feet. Takeru fell on his butt, and Yamato quickly ran to help him up.
The gate opened, and armed guards came out alongside an armored vehicle equipped with a monitor. A man appeared there, middle-aged with a bold, cool-headed expression.
“People of the Makuhara area, today I received a report of three people breaking in, including one adult. I do not know what their purpose was in trying to enter, but please ignore whatever they say and continue to follow our instructions.”
Takeru yelled, “Stop screwing around! You do something like spread information to manipulate the mass media with your lies, it’s filthy!”
“To the people who have come here today, are you listening? I am Director of Countermeasures Shibazaki. Since you have set foot in this area, you will not be able to leave again.”
“Why!? You think a microbe has already gotten into our bodies?”
But Shibazaki continued talking over Takeru’s words.
“If even one person should exit the barricade, there is not only the danger of the microbe spreading. If the fact of how many people have died in Makuhara should become known, Japan - no, the world - would descend into panic.
“That...” Yamato and Takeru were at a loss for words.
“At present, there is a research force analyzing the microbe we believe to be in your bodies as fast as they can. Believe us - if you flee, you will cause a disturbance. If you try something like that, you will be shot immediately.”
Looking up at Shibazaki's face as he coldly asserted this, the two just stood there. They weren’t able to do anything anymore. They could only take in that man’s words silently, biting their lips.
“However, our duty is also to protect you. Until all of you have been rescued, we will continue to provide food and supplies. It’s late now. Please rest. That’s all.”
And with that the monitor went black. Only the silence was left. That silence that had kept on since morning. Yamato was beginning to understand. The meaning of the silence, of Makuhara, and of the deep despair that surrounded all of the surviving children.
Right now, we can do nothing but wait to die.
Right now, we have no future.
Right now, we are silently enveloped in despair... just waiting for death.


erika-katori said...

Oh my~!!! Reading is even much sadder than watching the drama~!!! :(
The way they described the emotions is so good that it makes me myself feel breathless~!!!
Thanks for your hard-working~!!! ^^
Please continue this work and I'll try my best to keep track with you~!!! ^^

Emily said...

Thank you for reading!