Banchou of the Dead

In the Dead School

Chapter 2: In the Dead School

As pandemonium broke out in the school area, a group of three was having a stand-off with a zombie. The dead Wakisaka-sensei was limping towards them as he smelled something. Though more athletic, Komuro Takashi was used to being cautious. After all, one does not survive in the violent world of juvenile delinquent being careless.

"Rei, Hisashi," he addressed. "Don't walk too fast. We don't know what we're dealing with."

They did as were told and walked slowly to the decaying man until the distance between them was no more than 1 meter. However, for some reason this particular undead was drawn towards Rei and slowly approached her.

In the most inopportune moment, however the young woman was stunned. Due to the unwillingness to comprehend that this figure in front of her who was once a respected teacher was now an enemy.

"What are you doing? Rei!" Takashi yelled in anger.

"Don't underestimate the soujutsu club." She yelled loudly.

Having finally came to her senses, she readied her mop-spear and in a single movement struck the zombified teacher on his knee, head, and finished with a stab to the heart.

However, to her horror, Wakisaka didn't stop and now her make-shift weapon was stuck in the zombie's torso.

"What? But I stabbed him in the heart!" Rei yelled in shock.

Fearing for his girlfriend's safety, Hisashi ran forward and grabbed Wakisaka in a chokehold and called out, "Now, Rei, pull it out!"

While she complied, Takashi angrily yelled, "Hisashi, what the hell are you doing?"

"I'll be fine." He replied off-handedly. "I had a good grip on him."

Without warning, Wakisaka's head turned 180 degrees. Surprised by this inhuman feat, he loosened his hold on the undead teacher.

Hisashi tried to regain control by choking the undead teacher's head, but it was futile. Wakisaka opened his mouth so wide that they thought he had actually unhinged his jaw.

Takashi saw that Rei was still dazed and tried to step in to save his friend's life. However, he was too late and Wakisaka bit into Hisashi's left arm.

The young man screamed in pain as the undead's teeth pierced through skin and muscle. Wasting no time, Takashi ran forward and readied his bat.

With a heavy swing, the bat crushed Wakisaka's head and turned it into a mess of blood, bone, rotting flesh, and brain matter.

"You ok?" Takashi asked.

"Yeah. That bite just broke my arm's skin." Hisashi replied after panting a bit.

"Can you run if we need to?"

"Ye..."

"Wait a minute!" Rei interrupted. "You saw what happened. There's no way he's fine after that... that THING bit him."

"I'm ok, Rei." Hisashi tiredly answered her. However, for some reason he didn't look at his own girlfriend, but his best friend.

This wasn't missed by the girl and in an attempt to not feel left out, she screamed. "No, we should go to the infirmary and get help!"

"We can't." Takashi answered.

"What? What are you..."

"Takashi's right." Hisashi started. "We don't have the time or opportunity to go to the infirmary. Others will most certainly have thought of the same thing to help their friend. And if the situation is as bad as I think, around the infirmary might be the worst place to get help."

"Then... What should we do?"

"Get to safety."

Xxxx

Roof

"There." Takashi said as he ran towards the door on the edge of the stairs.

As they got closer, a bad feeling formed in Takashi's gut. It was a feeling like nothing will ever be the same and the days ahead will be drearier. Yet at the same time, he felt an odd sense of excitement, like he usually had whenever he was waiting for a new videogame to be released.

After the door was opened, they were greeted by a scene that foretold despair. All around the city, pillars of black smoke were rising from places dear to their hearts and places they were unfamiliar with. The noise of police sirens and car horns filled their ears, showing whoever was alive that hope is thinning as time goes. The smell of spilt blood and excrement from whatever victims the living dead tore apart filled the air, completing the vision of despair and hopelessness.

"No way... " Rei gasped in shock.

Takashi's eyes widened for a second, taking in the sights of the ruined city. For a moment, his mind wandered to his lover, worried whether she was alright. But he quickly stopped that train of thought. 'Wouldn't wanna jinx it.' He said in his mind. Rather than worrying, his time would be better spent rallying for the charge to freedom, he thought.

"Hey, Hisashi, Takashi," Rei called out, nearly in tears. "Until this morning, no, until we got here, do you ever think how we take every day for granted?"

Before she was answered, however a squad of helicopters flew by, surprising her and her 2 companions.

"What the? Were those blackhawks?"

"Is it the US? No... they must be the SDF..."

"But where are they from? There are no bases around here."

"Heeey!" she called out. "Help us!"

"It's useless." Her boyfriend said. "The SDF only mobilized when there are missions to be carried out.

"And besides," he continued as he pointed below. "They weren't doing anything to those."

The scene Hisashi pointed out was a scene befitting a horror movie. There in the field, one of their own schoolmates was screaming in pain as all around her, people who were once friends devoured her. Mindless of her scream, they bit onto her, tearing her flesh like rabid animals.

"With that going on, we won't be saved. Outside, people are trying to escape. While inside, those things are multiplying by eating people. One bite from Them and you're turned."

"Them?" Takashi asked in confusion.

"They look and act like zombies, but at the same time they're not. I don't know why, but for some reason I think the only way to kill them is by crushing their heads."

Their moment of peace was broken when they heard a loud noise from the rooftop door.

"I think they're gonna break in." Takashi said calmly.

"Then we should get to the observatory and block the stairs. It might not hold long, but it'll be enough."

Xxxx

School infirmary

"Sensei, hurry up!" A short haired student called out while barricading the windows of the infirmary by moving chairs, occasionally glancing back to the restrained remains of his once-friend.

However, the teacher in question didn't even look at the struggling student. Her attention was drawn to a struggling corpse that was motionless mere moments ago.

"Hmmm... This is really weird." The buxom blond said.

"Sensei!" The student, Ishii Kazu urged as he approached her.

"Urgh, dammit. I'm sorry, Okada." The young student yelled out as he struck his friend with an IV hanger.

The school nurse, Marikawa Shizuka didn't notice the urgency in Ishii's voice as she paced around while mumbling out loud. "I was sure that he died... I mean I checked the pulse and there was nothing. The skin was cold too, so it couldn't have been a false death. But even if he was dead, the temperature decrease is..."

"Sensei, they're breaking through!"

Instead of answering the poor lad however, the busty nurse sighed in annoyance. "Man, this is like a low budget horror movie."

"Is this really the time to be worried about that?" the desperate student yelled.

"Okay, fine. Let's go. But there's something I have to take with me."

Just as she ran to pick up her bag, however, the undead broke through the makeshift barricade Ishii Kazu prepared.

"AAAAARRGGH! HELP ME!" the captured, and currently consumed Ishii Kazu screamed in pain and fright.

It was very regretful that no-one was ever prepped for a zombie apocalypse. As so, the school nurse could only freeze in shock as she helplessly watched the student that helped her before get torn by a group of zombies.

Xxxx

Hallway near infirmary

Fujimi High 3rd year, Busujima Saeko was at a conundrum. She agreed to meeting Komuro Takashi at their 'usual place', which meant the inner gate of the highschool, yet due to poor choice in her route she was stuck with quite a number of zombies in her way.

However, she did not care much about the details of these zombies. To her, the arrival of these things was nothing more than obstacles that delayed her from her rendezvous.

But, she added as an afterthought, dealing with the undead may be better than dealing with the living. After all, if she were to accidentally swing harder than usual, she might be charged with murder or manslaughter. Luckily, such a problem is nowhere near a second thought with the undead and she was free to pursue her sadistic urges.

It was purely by chance that she heard a loud scream of pain made by one Ishii Kazu. Driven more by curiosity rather than concern, she approached the infirmary.

Xxxx

Infirmary

As a normal person would say, broken doors and cracked windows were never good signs. However, the sight Busujima Saeko saw was more than just something bad. Right in front of her, a 2nd year student whose name eluded her was being torn apart by the undead. If she were a lesser person, she might throw up at the macabre sight. Yet, she calmly approached the rows of the undead while dispatching them one by one. After all, she realized a solid strike to the head was all she needed to kill one of those things.

As the last zombie's skull was cracked, she approached the quickly dying Ishii Kazu.

With the charisma of a military leader, she spoke. "I am the the captain of the kendo club, Busujima Saeko. 3rd year student, what is your name?"

"I-It's Ishii Kazu, senpai."

"Ishii-kun then. You did well in protecting Marikawa-sensei. I admire your courage."

With a softer tone, like a mother talking to her child, she continued. "Do you know what happens to those bitten? Do you want your parents and friends to see you like that? I have never killed anyone before, but if you want me to I can help you."

The young man smiled softly for the last time in his life as he resigned himself to his fate and said with acceptance. "P-please, do it."

Marikawa Shizuka approached the two, trying to stop the senior from doing what she thought she would do. "Huh? Wait! What are you..."

"Marikawa-sensei," the martial artist interrupted as she held up her hand to stop the nurse. "Please do not interfere. This is a matter of protecting a man's dignity."

She readied her wooden sword and continued. "To sit idly by like a woman is not something I'd rather do."

With probably the strongest strike she had done in her life, Busujima Saeko ended a person life for the first time that day.

Xxxx

Rooftop, astronomy club's observatory

The group of three managed to barricade the stairs in time, before any of the newly christened enemy 'Them' appeared on the rooftop. Everything seemed fine after they searched through the astronomy club's inventory which was enough to last them a day or more. Just as They showed up, a problem arose in the form of Hisashi who was coughing out blood.

"Takashi, help! Hisashi's..." Rei called out in panic.

The spiky haired boy approached the two of them with a grimly calm aura. "You okay?"

"It's just like in the movies." Hisashi said in between coughs as he looked at the blood on his hands. "Even a single bite is fatal."

"NO! YOU'RE WRONG!" his girlfriend yelled out. "YOU'LL BE OKAY!"

"This... is just like a scene... from the movies." He said weakly, ignoring Rei completely.

"Hey... Takashi..."

"Yeah?"

"I'm sorry..., but... I'll... have to... ask you for... another... favor."

"Name it." Takashi said solemnly.

"Will... you... kill me?"

"NO! DON'T SAY THAT!" Rei yelled again.

"I... don't... want... to be... one of Them." Hisashi continued his dying wish as he coughed up more blood.

"Yeah."

"TAKASHI! DON'T! Hisahi's... HISASHI WON'T TURN INTO THEM. HE WON'T!"

"Sorry... Rei. I guess... my time's... up."

"Any last words, Hisashi?"

"Even... the blossoming flowers will scatter. Who in our world is unchanging? The deep mountains of vanity, we cross them today. And we shall not see superficial dreams... nor be deluded." He recited perfectly with a smile of acceptance on his face.

In a single move, Takashi pulled Rei away from her dying boyfriend and unsheathed the knife on his waist. With a sharp thrust, he stabbed his best friend's left temple, piercing his skull and through to the brain.

All was calm for a moment, before Miyamoto Rei screamed in fright, anger, and sorrow with tears flowing from her eyes. "WHY? WHY DID YOU DO THAT?"

"I fulfilled my friend's last wish. Because he didn't want to be one of 'Them'..."

"But he might not change after all! He could have just been fine after all that!"

Takashi gave her no response. In his experience, it was always better to just ignore the outbursts of people in highs stress. But he would admit that her words made sense, even if just a little.

"I wanted all of us to be okay! I didn't want to see Hisashi like this!" she cried out in anguish. "If Hisashi's going to leave me because he got bit, then I don't care if I became one of 'Them' too."

"I don't think he'd want that." He responded.

"And what do you know?" she asked in contempt.

"I get it... I get it now. You... you actually hated Hisashi because were together, weren't you?"

If she said that to him a year ago, the answer would definitely be yes. A girl he had loved since childhood suddenly going out with his best friend would definitely fill him with hate. However, she didn't even know the truth about her 'boyfriend'. So he didn't have an answer really. Besides, he already gave his heart to another, so answering her or thinking about that statement would have no merit whatsoever. He realized that replying to her would only cause more harm than good, he ignored her and walked towards the makeshift barrier.

"Hey, Takashi, what are you doing? Where do you think you're going?"

"I have a promise to keep. Staying here will only waste time and going together with you might be problematic. So this is where we part ways."

As he proceeded to climb through the mountain of chairs and desks, his leg was suddenly pulled by a teary-eyed girl.

"Wait, Takashi. I'm sorry... I didn't mean what I said." She sobbed out. "I'm sorry... so please, let's go together... please?"

Sighing in acceptance, the boy relented and went down. In an attempt to calm her down, he hugged her while cursing in his mind. 'If she knew about this, I am so dead.'

Xxxx

2nd year classroom

Takagi Saya and Hirano Kouta were hiding in the corner of their classroom, waiting until the common rabble stormed out of the classroom in panic. 'Well,' she thought to herself. 'I was just waiting. Fatty over there was the one hiding.'

Finally after the shouts of panic died down, the pink haired girl approached her counterpart called out to him. "Hey, Hirano."

"T-Takagi-san." He shyly acknowledged.

"You wanna get out of here?"

"I... I do, but..."

"Then shut up and follow my lead. If we're lucky, that idiot will be where I hoped he would."

"Who do you mean?" the long haired student asked while jogging to match Saya's longer strides.

"Komuro." Saya replied quickly.

"What about the staffs and teachers?"

"Chances are, they're dead or halfway there. Any other ideas?"

"Well, the police and SDF comes to mind..."

"Forget it." She replied with finality. "They won't be around to help anyone of us."

"Why would you say that? I thought their job is to..."

"To protect important people, that's what. You think they'll care about a bunch of high school kids like us? No way. We might have a better chance asking the yakuza for help.

"Besides, are you an idiot? Even in movies the military's job is to secure people in power. If a bunch of nobodies like us die, it's just another sob story. If one of the politicians dies, it's a tragedy."

"So you mean..."

"If we're gonna survive, we can only depend on ourselves." She cut in while rummaging around a locker. "Now, you're a military otaku, right?"

"I don't really like the term, but I guess you could say I am. Why?" Kouta asked back while Saya walked to the teacher's table with a bag in her hands.

"You've seen the movie Lethal Weapon 2, right? Can you use these to make something useful?" she asked as she spilled the bags contents.

As it turned out, the bag contained what might be a gun rigging kit: a wireless electronic drill, a monkey wrench, a set of pliers, screwdrivers, a box cutter, and a gas powered nail gun.

Without talking, the long haired boy approached the table and hefted the nail gun. "It's a gas powered nail gun, huh? It's slightly heavier than the rifle I used to use..."

"I tried finding the air powered one like the one in the movies, but there's no point in bringing one, is it?."

"Do you like movies, Takagi-san?"

"Stop talking like an idiot, okay! I'm a genius, so I know everyth..."

"One spare canister, lots of nails..." Kouta mumbled. "Looks like there won't be a problem."

"Hey! What are you mumbling about? They're already crowding the hallway!" Saya half-yelled.

"Hmm... considering the weight, stability might be an issue..."

"Hey, fatty, are you even listening to me?"

Ignoring Takagi Saya's urging, Hirano Kouta was rigging up a stock for his nailgun. A duct tape here, a broken off chair leg there, an eraser for sight and presto! A rigged gun with a stock and a sight. With a grin, the boy raised his new gun to the advancing horde and fired a shot straight to the middle of the closest one's head.

"Yes." He cheered in success.

"Takagi-san, put that drill, the spare gas canister, and the toolbox in a suitable bag." He continued while thinning the number of zombies one by one. Each of the rotting creatures removed by a clean headshot.

"Wait, what? What's wrong with you? Are you ordering me around?"

"If you don't mind, Takagi-san." He said with a smile.

Finally realizing her survival depended on him until she met with more people, Takagi Saya did as she was asked to.

Xxxx

Rooftop

Komuro Takashi and Miyamoto Rei were currently sitting near the observatory's entrance to catch a breath before they have to face the horde of zombies between them and freedom. If this happened a year ago, he would be very happy, being alone with the girl he had loved alone in a place no one else could reach.

But now, it just made him uneasy. Not many people knew, but his girlfriend had very good instincts. If she were to find out he held a girl who was not her, he might have to face some dire consequences.

"Hey Takashi, can I borrow your phone? I want to try calling my dad again." Rei suddenly said.

"I thought the line was busy?"

"That was the 110 emergency line. He gave an emergency only number."

Without protest, he handed her his cellphone and waited with baited breath. It took a while, but finally the line connected.

"Hello, otou-san?" Rei called.

"Hello? This number... Takashi-kun?" her father asked.

"Otou-san, it's Rei..."

"Takashi-kun... did Rei give you this number? Anyway, listen to me. The city's in a big panic. If you could, go home quickly so you don't worry your parents and..."

The call was disrupted. Either way it didn't really matter because the conversation was only 1 way and Rei couldn't really say what she wanted to. She looked at the phone in disbelief and looked at the screen.

"Out... out of range? But it just got through!" she sobbed out. "Takashi... tou-san... he didn't know it was me."

"Rei..."

Xxxx

"Are you ok?" Takashi asked.

"I... yeah." Rei sniffled.

"Then if you don't mind, can you give me your mop handle?"

"Huh? What for?"

"I found a knife in the observatory. It's just a kitchen knife, but this way you'll have a better spear, right?"

"Yeah... you're right."

"I'll make the adjustments. In the meantime, can you find anything useful and put it in here?" the young man asked as he gave her a cloth sack bag from his bag.

"Got it."

As she took the bag and went inside, he chopped the tip of the mop handle with his machete and shaved the wood a bit. Afterwards he fitted it with the kitchen knife, adjusted the shaved part, and after he was satisfied with the fit he bound the two items with a roll of cellophane tape.

"Here. I put the water, bottled water, and any food I could find." Rei said as she handed him the bag.

"Materials?"

"In there too. Duct tape, box cutter, screwdrivers, to name a few. I basically looted the whole room."

"Ok. Any idea how we're going to break out of here?"

"Why don't we use the fire hydrant? The water pressure should be strong enough."

"Good idea. You sure we got everything we could take?"

"I double checked it already."

"Good. Then we won't miss anyth..."

"Takashi?"

Instead of answering, Takashi looked at the hydrant box near the observatory and smiled. Apparently getting to the observatory was a better idea than he originally thought. With a jab of his bat, he shattered the protective glass cover and took out a fire axe put inside.

"This'll be useful." He said as he checked the axe for any damages. Finding none, he tightened the strap to his bag so it didn't swing around and put the bat inside.

"Let's go." He grinned as he hefted the axe.

Xxxx

Hallway, near infirmary, same time

"The staff room? That's quite a difficult request." Busujima Saeko said as she walked quickly.

"Well, everyone keeps their car keys in there."

"So you suggest we secure an escape vehicle then? Very well."

"Ummm... Busujima-san, where are we originally going?" the school nurse Marikawa Shizuka asked.

"I promised a... friend to meet near the shoe lockers, but given the circumstances... I'm sure he's held up at the moment." Busujima Saeko calmly answered while slapping away a zombie's arm.

"Aaah... I see. Why didn't you kill them?" she asked again, watching the kendo club captain push a zombie away with her wooden sword. "It should be easy for you, right?"

"Stopping to kill everyone we meet may slow us down. In this kind of situation, being slowed down could get us surrounded. When that happens, getting free will be difficult if not possible both for me and you... but maybe not for him."

"Hey, Busujima-san, who are you talking about? Is it the same person you made a promise with?"

"Yes. He is... a very dear friend."

"Hee... Whoa!" just at that moment, the blonde nurse fell down as she tripped at a carpet nearby.

"Jeez! What was that?" she cried out.

"Hmm? Wearing that will make it difficult for you to run." Unceremoniously, the 3rd year student tore the nurse's skirt, making a long tear on her left thigh.

"Hey! This is Prada!"

"Which is more important? Your clothes or your life?"

"BOTH!"

Finding no way of seeing eye to eye with nurse Marikawa, Busujima Saeko sighed and kept on walking.

Xxxx

Rooftop

"It's just like practice. Steady feet, steady arms, focused mind." Takashi muttered to himself while holding the end of a fire hose. Although he wouldn't argue with Rei about using the fire hose, he knew the current was strong.

It was because of this that he was quite worried about how things may play out. But, he knew that worrying about it won't help any and he decided to just get this obstacle over and done with quickly.

"Ready?"

"Yeah! Go for it."

At that instant a strong jet of water gushed out of the nozzle and it took the young man a few seconds to control the lashing hose. As he managed to focus the water blast to the center of the table and chair barricade, it exploded outwards, turning ordinary school furniture into heavy projectile.

Several moments later, the front of the stair was clear of Them and they were ready to move out. Maybe, just maybe, this kind of world wasn't so bad after all.

Xxxx

Hallway, near staff's office

"Takagi-san, what are you doing?" Kouta asked while watching Saya throw wet rags at one of Them.

She shushed him and continued looking at him. As the rag hit his head, he didn't turn his head towards them.

Satisfied, she nodded and spoke to him. "Don't worry about it and shut up."

This time, she threw the wet rag to a locker near the zombie and it made a loud clanging sound. The undead limped towards the locker and hit his head on the metallic surface, but he didn't stop and continued walking forwards.

"Did you see that?" she asked. "They don't respond to physical impulses, yet when it heard the noise, he approached the source of the voice. This means that they don't respond to pain or touch, only noise.

"And maybe heat." She added as she grit her teeth. "Dammit, this experiment only makes me hate them even more. Let's go."

"Umm, Takagi-san, we are trying to get outside, right?"

"What are you implying?"

"Well, things could get bad if we continue this slowly..."

"Then hurry up, fatty!" She commanded.

Xxxx

Outside of the staff room

"Dammit! How the hell did it get to this?" Saya cursed.

"Well, we had to make a retreat and unfortunately this was the only plausible route."

"You think I don't know that? I..."

"Takagi-san, could you please help me fight them?"

"Why should I?"

"Because I'm almost out of ammo!"

"So what? When you're completely out I'll help you."

"But... they're right behind you..."

Turning around, Takagi Saya saw a zombie with bleeding eyes and as anyone would do, screamed in terror and surprise. "Get away... Get away..."

Fumbling around the contents of the spilled bag, she grabbed onto a portable drill and recollected her wits. "I said, get away you piece of shit!"

She powered up the drill and stabbed it into the zombie's head. All the while cursing out loud "Die, you little shit! Die! Die! Die!"

The scream from before attracted more zombies into the fray and they would be overwhelmed as the main attacker was out of ammo and the support was in hysterics. Luckily for them, the same scream also attracted the attention of 2 separate groups: Komuro Takashi and Miyamoto Rei; and Busujima Saeko and Marikawa Shizuka.

Although Takashi would like nothing more than to calm his childhood friend down, he realized that there were other things to worry about. He calmly looked around and realized that there were 6 more zombies in the vicinity. After a brief calculation in his head, he called out to his companion. "I'll handle the front. Rei..."

"I'll handle the left." She replied as she leapt into action with far less hesitation than before. She swung her makeshift spear in a diagonal angle from the center of the zombie's body downwards to its right, severing his grasping arm.

With an upward swing, she nicked his neck, but the finisher was yet to come. She swung her spear downwards and pulled it back, then with all her strength, she stabbed her enemy right in the middle of his forehead. The blade sunk 2 inches deep and after a moment of stillness, it too joined the ranks of the truly dead.

Takashi approached his quarry quickly. As he ran, he ducked under a zombie's grasp to the left. After he stood up, he chopped the first zombie's right arm diagonally and slammed the other sharp end of the axe to the zombie's nose. The force of his swing brought the axe through its brain and cleaved its head open.

As another zombie approached, Takashi readied his axe and swung horizontally. But he miscalculated the zombie's height and only grazed its neck. He stopped the axe mid-swing and this time his blow hit its mark and took a little of the top of the zombie's head, splitting and spilling its rotting brain all over the floor.

Meanwhile, Saeko was using one of her common techniques in a fight. With the tip of her wooden sword, she pushed the 3 zombies back. The first to fall was the one directly in front of her as she swung her bokken down and crushed his skull.

Quickly afterwards, she changed her stance to facing her left and swung the wooden sword's broader side to a zombie's head. Then, with a loud swish, she broke the last zombie's head with a horizontal swing to the left temple. In an instant, 3 zombies were dead with crushed skulls.

After the melee ended, Saya came off her battle high and sat down in depressed silence. Seeing a fellow student in distress, Rei focused rushed towards her, followed by Shizuka. "Takagi-san, are you okay?" the brown haired girl asked.

"Eh? Miyamoto?"

Xxxx

Seeing the zombies near the staff room cleared gave Takashi a slight moment of calm as he closed and locked a door nearby. With a tired sigh, he dropped his bag and rolled his stiff shoulders.

"It's good to see you unharmed, Takashi." Saeko greeted.

"Yeah... I... I'm glad you're okay, Saeko." He replied.

"Eh? Takashi, you knew Busujima-senpai?" Rei asked.

"Yeah, you could say we're well acquainted." Takashi replied.

"I'm from the Soujutsu club, Miyamoto Rei."

"I... I'm Hirano Kouta from class 2-B."

"It's a pleasure." Saeko replied with a smile.

"You're all too soft." Saya suddenly said.

As everyone looked at her in confusion, she continued her speech. "'Senpai?' Seriously? You two are at the same age. Just because you were held back a year doesn't change that fact."

"Saya..." Takashi called.

"Don't treat me like I'm an idiot! I'm a genius! I can do anything I put my mind to! I'm... I'm..."

Without saying anything, Takashi took off his gakuran and draped it over the distraught girl while Saeko held her in her arms. As the wall around her broke down, she cried her heart out at the older girl's chest.

Xxxx

Staff room

"That should do it." Takashi said as he stacked another box of copy paper as weight for the makeshift barricade in front of the staff room.

Looking around, he noticed that each member of his 'group' had gotten slightly less high-strung. He saw Rei handing out everyone a bottle of water, Shizuka-sensei was slumping forwards, Kouta was sitting in one of the teacher's seat while looking at a bunch of the files on top, Saeko was changing the TV channels, and apparently Saya was missing. But the sound of running water told him she was probably washing up.

After he received a water bottle, he suddenly remembered of a particular item of his that was confiscated by a teacher. It was a cho-ran (long school jacket) he got from Saeko and that asswipe Teshima took it just at the first day he wore it too.

Mentally cursing the meathead, he rummaged through a couple of lockers until he finally found what he was looking for. He set the thick jacket (with a small surprise in it) on a table nearby and called out. "Hirano, you know many things about military stuff, right?"

"I do. Why?"

"Do you know what this is?" he asked as he pulled out an array of belts and pouches.

With a barely restrained squeal, the chubby boy explained vigorously. "That is an ALICE, short for All Purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment. It was used by the US Armed Forces from 1965. The one you have in your hand there has a pouch for ammunition, one for a water canteen, several small pockets. It's a set of belts and a backpack. If that's the belt and suspender, the backpack should be around here somewhere."

Surprised by his knowledge, Takashi paused for a while before he complimented him. "Wow, you sure know a lot. You wanna take this?"

"Can I?" he asked with glee as he clasped his hands in front of Takashi.

"Sure... why not?"

He handed the item to Kouta who was holding and dancing around with it. Not wanting to miss anything, the delinquent quickly looked for other things inside the staff room and indeed, he found a matching backpack. He carefully put it to the floor and found a handgun with a box of ammunition and two spare magazines.

Looking at the out of place object, the chubby boy asked. "Do you know whose it is, Komuro?"

"My guess is Kobayakawa-sensei. He said he felt a lot safer with a gun at hand."

"How do you know that?"

"He asked me to introduce him to a gun shop owner I know."

"You sure are connected, Komuro."

"Huh? I thought knowing a gun shop owner is a usual thing."

"In Japan where weapons are strictly controlled? It is a big thing. What's more, this gun is an H&K Mark 23. Do you know that this gun is used by many different armed forces around the world? Including the US Special Operations Command? This one even has a flashlight attachment! Aaahh, this makes my heart soar..."

"You wanna take this too?" Takashi asked, weirded out again by his friend's over enthusiasm.

"I do!" he replied quickly before he sat on one of the chairs and began inspecting the weapon.

Ignoring the currently very happy boy, he found a weapon for him. It was a moroha tanto, 30 cm long with red lacquered scabbard and hilt. Carefully, he unsheathed the blade and found that it didn't reflect light even though it was sharp. Along with that, his other loots were: 2 pocket knives, 1 collapsible baton, a camping backpack, 2 bokken, 4 flashlights, 2 spools of climbing rope, 5 carabiners, and a toolbox.

After he laid them down on a cleared table, he stood near Saeko and waited until Saya came out of the washroom with his gakuran on.

"All right. Now that everyone's here, we can start thinking of our escape plan and destination." He addressed them.

"Shouldn't we go as fast as possible?" Rei asked.

"No. with our enemies being the undead, I don't think going near sundown will be a good idea." Saya countered.

"I agree." Saeko said. "With so little information about them, we should wait here until sunrise before we depart."

"But what about our families? Every second we don't go to their rescue, their chances of surviving drops." The brown haired girl retorted.

"While that is true..." Takashi said. "Without proper preparations, the only thing we will be is a batch of casualties. Waiting for one night can increase our chances of survival."

"So, it's decided?"

"Yeah. We will wait here until sunrise. In the meantime, gather anything you think will be necessary or might help. We can't be over prepared."

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