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No further prompting was needed, as Mari, Ryouji, and Yuusuke immediately ran to the door and started pulling at the tables and chairs to dismantle the barricade. For a moment Yuusuke tried to hold his phone up so that they could see a little of what they were doing, but with his other arm he was pulling at tables and chairs hard and fast, causing the light to move erratically. It wasn't lighting enough to be helpful so he dropped it on the ground in favour of getting both hands involved. They were in pitch black darkness, but there was a clarity in their purpose and action. They just needed to move forward, to throw the tables and chairs anywhere out of the way.

Mari lost track of Yuusuke and Ryouji, though she knew they were to her left. One time she picked up a chair and threw it over to her left and she thought she might have hit Yuusuke, but if he was hurt or obstructed, he didn't say anything. She realized she was closest to the door, so she fumbled around, reaching for the handle. She found it and turned it downward, but, when pulling at it, it wouldn't budge.

ロック!ロックを外せ!"The deadbolt! Unlock it!" Yuusuke yelled. He put a hand on her arm, indicating he might step over toward her to get a more advantageous position to help her or push the tables and chairs back from where she was. Just as he did, though, there was another sound, that of bodies and furniture colliding, and the remaining tables and chairs were pushed back toward the door again. Ryouji screamed a guttural scream. One of the infected was on top of him, growling. There were tearing sounds, with a sickening wet quality too them. Ryouji's screams went hoarse and began to fade.

クソッ!"Shit!" Yuusuke yelled, realizing that the attack on Ryouji was pushing Ryouji forward into the door and could possibly make it harder to open. His hand left Mari's arm, and she briefly panicked, waving her arm into the darkness in an attempt to keep her connection to him. She then turned back to trying to open the door, realizing that was the most help she could give Yuusuke, and herself. Sliding her hand up the door, she found the deadbolt and turned it, feeling the distinct short vibration from the bolt letting her know she had opened it. She immediately slid her hand back down to the handle and, using her other to brace against the door frame, pulled the door open. It only opened part way, the tables and chairs and whoever was fighting Ryouji holding it back. Mari had just barely enough room to squeeze through. The air from outside poured in, carrying a smell of concrete and cooked meat, but it was still cooler and felt fresher than the air inside. There was only a little light from above, just barely enough to make out the stairs covered in small chunks of rubble.

佑介!行こう!"Yuusuke! Let's go!" Mari squeezed sideways through the door, reaching out with one arm back into the inside the bar, as if she might be able to find Yuusuke and grab him to pull him along. A hand suddenly grabbed her wrist, and she screamed, realizing that it was just as likely that it could be one of the infected.

行け!行け!"Go! Go!" Yuusuke yelled. Much to Mari's relief, she could just barely make out Yuusuke in the limited light. He held her arm and tried to make it through the door. It was a little harder for him to push through the tight space, so she pulled on his arm to help him as much as she could. Suddenly he screamed. She couldn't see what was happening, but he reflexively turned to look inside, into the darkness behind him. Mari could hear the growling and commotion just behind Yuusuke. He was being attacked. He would die or turn. In a matter of seconds.

ダメ!来て!佑介、来て!"No! Come on! Yuusuke, come on!" Mari screamed with a desperate high pitch. She pulled on his arm as if somehow she could pull him out of being infected. Yuusuke looked back, his eyes wide and sad.

いいから。マリ、行け。"Go. Mari, go," Yuusuke said. His voice was calm, knowing that there was nothing else to do. His arm lost tension, which more than his words communicated to Mari that she should let go. She felt his arm slide away between her hands that were frozen in position. He fell back into the darkness and disappeared, maybe he was trying to push back the infected to give Mari more of a head start. Or maybe he was simply pulled away.

ごめん!ごめん、佑介!"I'm sorry! Yuusuke, I'm sorry!" Mari said. Tears welled up in her eyes, but she was determined to not lose control. Quickly wiping her wrist across her eyes, she turned to head up the steps. They were covered in dust and rubble, which made them slippery, and her over sized bathroom slippers didn't provide much traction, as her feet slid around inside them. She had to use her hands to balance, keeping them ahead of her, half crawling up the stairs.

At the top, she stood up to survey the scene. It was darker than Shibuya had ever been. Down a ways and across a road was the large Labi electronics store, it's mostly glass covered walls broken and shattered. The top floors were entirely gone, the remaining top level engulfed in flames, providing the main source of light in the area. In most directions, Mari could see the night sky in patches that were not possible before, as most buildings had been devastated. There were columns of black smoke blotting out the sky as fire burned here and there. In the buildings that had at least some structure still standing, every window was smashed. Most lights were out, though an occasional streetlight, random store sign, or store interior glowed in isolation, some of them flickering. The streets were covered in debris, a metre deep or more, in an almost impassible collection of rebar, concrete, broken glass, wood, and random goods like clothing or kitchen products or whatever might have been found for sale before.

Amongst all the destruction were the bodies. Most bodies were buried under the grey and brown dust that covered everything, making the blood and injury less distinct. But there was a body or body part every few steps. Some of them smouldered, and the air smelled like the meat cooking on a grill at a yakinikku restaurant as much as it smelled like a construction site.

Off in the distance there was the firecracker like sounds of guns going off. The deep and heavy sounds of a large helicopter, maybe two, came from the skies, but Mari couldn't figure out where they were because their sound echoed in every direction. There was the sound of fire, and the occasional crashing noise as a piece of a building somewhere gave way and fell down into the rubble below. Mari couldn't see anyone around, and wasn't even sure if she wanted to, but she didn't have long enough to really be sure about whether or not she was alone. She heard the door at the bottom of the stairs behind her banging. She glanced back, and couldn't see anything, now that her eyes had adjusted to the light level outside, but the noise alone made it clear one of the infected was trying to get out. Mari turned back to her surroundings. She had to start moving quickly.

She slipped and stumbled as she moved forward, and again resorted to crawling half the time, fearing that at any moment she might put her hand into a pocket of shattered glass, or slip and impale herself on a rod of iron jutting out from a concrete block. Panic rose in her, knowing that the infected behind her would not be as cautious. The tension caused her to move more erratically, which made her more afraid of stumbling and hurting herself, in a cycle of fear and response that made it harder and harder to progress. What if she got her foot caught in some crevasse between two concrete blocks? She made it only a few meters away from the top of the stairs, heading back in the direction toward the station, when she could sense that at least one of the infected was at the top of the stairs. She didn't know if it was because she heard it, or if she had caught movement in the corner of her eye as she furtively looked around for each and every step to take, but she knew it was there. She stood more upright to run more, her adrenalin causing her to instinctively give up caution in exchange for speed.

She heard a growl, and in response, she let out a scream, stifled slightly by being focused on getting away.

She heard a loud popping, similar to an air compressor but with louder and more insistent pulses, and had no idea what it meant. It was loud and close enough that it was clearly something to do with her, not just some random noise off in the distance. It happened again, and she dropped into a crouched position, the closest she could get to a fetal position without laying down on the ground. She covered her head, putting her arms up by her ears and her hands behind her head, to create a little world of her own, for a make believe sense of safety. She realized someone was shooting, and for all she knew they were shooting at her. How would anyone know she wasn't infected? It could even be possible that she was already shot, and maybe it was just shock keeping her from the pain. She froze, and listened for more shots. If bullets went through her skull, would she hear it first, or would she be dead before she knew the next round was coming?

動くな!"Don't move!" A man's voice, hoarse from yelling, and with the rough edges of anger. It was also muffled, and a little hard to make out, but Mari understood clearly, partly because the words connected with her own desire to be perfectly still.

立つんだ!"Stand up!"

Mari slowly stood, coming to stand straight up, her arms still up to protect her face. She held her eyes closed because whatever happened next, she had no say in it, and would rather it just carry her away than make her participate. She heard footsteps approaching her, crunching authoritatively through the rubble.

腕を横に伸ばせ!"Put your arms straight out!"

Mari reluctantly extended her arms out to each side, not wanting to give up on hiding under them, even though she was fully aware it wasn't any real kind of safety. She opened her eyes, but the voice was behind her. She was facing mostly down the street toward the burning electronics store. Suddenly she felt a gloved hand grabbing at her, starting at her waist, and moving down her leg. Then between her legs, up and down. Up the other side, up her waist, and along her arm. The grabbing was rough, there was a sense of violation about it, but it wasn't sexual at all. She felt like she was just a sack of something to be inspected. The pushing was aggressive enough that a couple times she almost lost her balance.

怪我をしているのか?"Any cuts or injuries?"

いえ。なっ...してないです。"No, I do..." She was about to say that she didn't think so, but cut herself off, feeling this was no time for uncertainty. "I don't."

回われ!"Turn around!"

The voice grabbed her and pulled her around even as she was trying to turn around herself. She found herself face to face with the voice, a man in full combat gear, his black and dark grey combat suit covering his entire body, a connected hood over his head, and with gloves tightly strapped around his wrists, so that no part of him was exposed. She could barely make out his eyes behind the narrow shield of glass above circular vents like a gas mask. He looked angry. One of his hands was on her, grabbing her shoulder firmly, to let her know that every move she made would be his to decide. The other arm held a large gun made of black metal, the kind that Mari had seen in movies, what she understood was a machine gun or assault rifle. It was pointed directly at her. Behind this soldier were two other soldiers in identical gear, about twenty steps behind, both with their guns aimed at Mari. She could feel the hollowness of the barrel closest to her.

The gloved hand grabbed her by the chin, taking control of her head, and moved her a little side to side, as the angry eyes looked into hers for some sign that she might be infected. Suddenly, the soldier pulled back, taking his hand off her, and putting it up near his shoulder where there was some kind of button on a little square electronic device that Mari guessed was a radio. As he listened to something Mari couldn't hear, he lowered his gun a little, but it remained in a position that it would still mean her death if he squeezed the trigger.

The men at a distance started firing and Mari felt that it might have been the gun in front of her. She flinched, and the man grabbed her again. She caught his eyes again and felt a primal reaction, a feeling like he hated her. She wondered what were the odds of his gun going off by accident, if he makes a mistake or twitches? She felt like he wasn't in a state where he cared too much if that might happen.

Mari only dared to move her eyes, keeping her head perfectly still. Looking over the shoulder of the man in front of her, she could see that it was Yuusuke who had chased after her, and was now lying in a pool of blood and dust, having been shot multiple times. Her stomach felt hollowed out seeing him sprawled on the ground, his good intentions and heroism lost among the anonymous chaos of the infected. Near the top of the stairs to the bar, the two soldiers were shooting what looked like one of the the women from the bank, Mari couldn't tell which one. Then the two soldiers stepped closer to the stairwell and were shooting down into it.

まだいるのか?"Are there more?!"

The man yelled at Mari, making her feel like he was telling her it was her fault that there were infected emerging from where she had been. She tried to do some quick thinking to remember who was killed after the bomb Noriko found went off, and who might still be standing, but she couldn't do it quick enough to satisfy the insistence she felt coming from him.

分からない!"I don't know!" she said, her voice a desperate high pitched whine. One of the two soldiers turned on a light attached to his rifle and went down the stairs, the other one remaining at the top. There was more shooting. A few moments later, the soldier returned. Mari could hear electronically distorted voices from the suit of the man in front of her, some kind of transmission between the soldiers. The one in front of her tilted his head slightly. He listened to the others reporting, but didn't say anything into his microphone.

こっちに来い!"Come this way!"

The soldier in front of her turned and started walking back the way they had come from. That he was willing to turn his back to her gave Mari some relief in that it meant they didn't think she was infected. She started walking to follow, stumbling and trying to manage as best she could with her plastic slippers over the rough terrain. After the soldier in front of her made a few steps, she could see the two further ahead pointing at her. She heard more electronic voices. The soldier in front of her turned back, and saw her trying to make her way, and not getting very far. She couldn't see his eyes, but she felt his frustration.

He came back and grabbed her, moving with such certainty that Mari didn't have a moment to wonder what exactly he was intending. She found herself thrown over his shoulders, across his back, the way that firemen carry people. Some clasps and seams of his backpack and vest pressed into her sharply, but with a few adjustments, she was balanced so that he could proceed. With her weight, his steps were more cautious, but it was faster than she was capable of on her own. One of her slippers fell off in the process of being picked up, but he didn't notice and she was sure he didn't care. There was no doubt that there was no chivalry in this, his task was to eliminate infected and gather survivors, and carrying her was just faster for everyone. She let her other slipper fall. What good was one slipper anyway? She just hoped that when he put her down, it would be somewhere where two bare feet would be as safe as one.

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High Heels

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

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I Hate This Feeling

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

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She Cries Beautifully

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

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Standup Game of Thrones and Rape Culture

Another reason why so many jokes about rape fail.

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Following the angels

My very specific and personal reasons for moving to Tokyo.

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Halfway dead

I think I fucked up my life.

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The dating puddle

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

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ymiaft

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

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Spark

A story about artificial intelligence, love, and authenticity.

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Mari

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

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I eat my loneliness

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

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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.