Yu Yu Hakusho Fan Fiction ❯ Invasion ( Chapter 5 )
Hakumei would have talked to Kuwabara about Keiko and Goro’s offer, but he didn’t show up to class. She spent the day worrying, anxiety at low tide and licking at the shore of her consciousness. She worried about Mr. Fujiwara and her job, about Goro, about Kuwabara not being there. She worried about the redhead and the shadow from earlier, as well as the insects she kept seeing. She could hear everything just fine now, which kept her from panicking, but without a distraction she couldn’t help but feel something was still off.
Club ran a little longer than usual, with everyone trying to figure out what order the acts would go in and who was in charge of handling what equipment. One group had taken it upon themselves to introduce other acts rather than coming up with their own, and was hounding down everyone who had something concrete planned, but Hakumei had nothing to tell them. With Keiko making flyers for the student council and Kuwabara absent, she was stuck alone with Goro, making no progress to speak of.
Apparently Mr. Fujiwara had given the go ahead to join their groups together, and Goro was more than happy to follow Hakumei around and give her suggestions on how to sing his finished lyrics.
“So, how much do you know about music exactly…?” Hakumei asked after a long stream of disastrous ideas.
“You’re holding the evidence of my greatness as we speak. This song is going to reach the hearts of hundreds. There won’t be a dry eye in the audience if you do exactly what I say. Now, when you get to this line,” he pointed at the paper, “You should get really loud and shake your voice a lot…”
It was one of the beginning phrases, second verse. If walls break down, I will comfort you. If anything it should be soft.
“Do you mean a crescendo or a rinforzando?” She sighed. “Because I honestly think it would sound better piano. Vibrato will come naturally either way.”
“Unh huh,” he waved her off and continued to ramble. She huffed, blowing her bangs out of her face. Never mind that she had been practicing music two hours a day, every day since she was eight. Considering the fact that she’d turn fifteen in June, she figured that made her pretty experienced. Apparently it didn’t matter, though. She was in the presence of a genius.
Eventually she suggested that he go find some other people to add to their group. A song this wonderful didn’t deserve to be a capella, and wouldn’t it be a shame to just have a recital when they could go grander? Why not include some of the chorus kids in the background?
She tucked the lyrics into her skirt pocket and snuck away while Goro was questioning the other club members. She’d never be able to conduct an entire group of people to perform an unfinished song, and just because she could sight-read didn’t mean she could compose. Her plan of action was to sing random notes until she heard something she liked, and then memorize it.
No one in their right mind would want to work with Goro anyway. Stupid, conceited… “When you get to this line you should get really loud and shake your voice a lot.” She made a face as she mimicked Goro’s voice, embellishing his self-importance. She sounded just like him.
It was already five when she had packed up to go home, which is why she was surprised that there were still so many people on campus when she went to change her shoes. Immediately her hearing began to dim out. The students around her were as dull and lifeless as the commuters she passed on her way to school. Hakumei took deep, even breaths as she tied the laces of her boots, trying to ignore the upright hair on her neck. She thought logical thoughts.
A sharp buzzing cut through the silence and Hakumei turned to see one of the insects flit to Karin Kamiya’s shoulder. How was it that no one else seemed to notice them? It groomed its stinger before crawling into her ear. Karin stiffened for a moment and then slumped over. Disgust swelled up through Hakumei’s stomach. The color shrank away from Karin like pepper from a magnet. She was gray. Gray. Screaming red eyes scanned over Hakumei as she passed with a muted grunt. Hakumei sat in quiet wonder, blinking.
Surely she hadn’t just seen that happen. This couldn’t be real. It had to be some kind of dream, a silent horror movie, anything but reality…but her classmates were still sallow-skinned, eyes still bloodshot, mouths still gaping. Everyone had been infected with this strange, otherworldly parasite. They moved, lethargic, as a unit, out into the courtyard as if she wasn’t there.
Hakumei stood and followed the others outside in a surreal, soundless haze. The campus was filled with people, and not just students, but teachers too, and businessmen and house wives and homeless people, shopkeepers. All kinds were pouring in from the streets. They were mumbling something, but she couldn’t quite make out what it was.
She saw a woman she recognized as a clerk at the convenience store, Chiaki, near school and walked alongside her. Chiaki didn’t seem to notice Hakumei’s presence as she was examined with morbid curiosity. Her mouth moved with a lazy motion of the jaw that let drool flow like a river down her chin, but Hakumei still couldn’t understand what she was saying. With a gulp, Hakumei leaned in. Her heart was beating against her lungs. What was going on?
With her ear in front of Chiaki’s mouth, Hakumei could feel her breath against her cheek. It was cold. She closed her eyes, straining to hear.
“Yukimura,” Chiaki whispered, and a scream cut through the void.
Hakumei jumped away from Chiaki with a scream of her own just as Keiko ran out into the courtyard, skidding to a halt when she saw the mass of zombies waiting for her. She turned and ran the opposite direction.
“Keiko!” Hakumei called out, clutching her ears. She blinked away tears as she ran after Keiko, leaving Chiaki and the others lumbering behind her. “Keiko, wait!” she yelled as she caught up to her. She took Keiko’s hand and pulled her around the corner of the building, ducking just in time to avoid getting slapped in the face. “Hey! Stop! It’s me.”
Keiko pulled her hand back and leaned forward, hands on her knees. “Oh god, I thought you were one of them,” she panted, “What happened to your hands?”
“What?” Hakumei looked down. The palms of her hands were bloody.
“And your ears!”
Keiko’s fingers brushed against Hakumei’s skin and the sting erupted across her skull and down into her jaw bone. She gasped and jerked away.
“Don’t,” she said, dizzy with pain. “What’s going on?”
“They must be the fanatics they were talking about in the newspaper,” Keiko said.
Hakumei didn’t know anything about fanatics, but she didn’t want to share her theory about why they were currently running from half the city either. Keiko had a logical explanation. Hakumei didn’t want to take that from her.
“But why are they after you?”
“Your guess is as good as mine. Mr. Iwamoto, he…he attacked me in the copy room. He kept raving about how I shouldn’t associate with Yusuke,” Keiko said. “None of it makes any sense. What does Yusuke have to do with this? He wasn’t even in class today.”
Hakumei’s head was reeling. What had Yusuke gotten himself into? Were they after people he was close to? Bile climbed up the back of her throat. “Neither was Kuwabara,” she whispered.
Keiko gasped. “You don’t think…”
“No,” Keiko said, “No no no. I’ve seen Kuwabara fight before. He defended me against some thugs from another school. He can take care of himself, just like Yusuke can.”
Hakumei peered out around the corner of the building. She couldn’t begin to count the number of zombies out there, and they were getting closer. “Against all of them?” she whispered before she saw Keiko’s face, near tears. Hakumei pressed the palms of her hands into her eyes and took a deep breath. Her ears were throbbing and her hair felt tight were the blood had dried in it. “They had a better chance against them than we do,” she said finally, “What the plan?”
“Yukimura!” Mr. Iwamoto’s massive hand curled around the wall behind Hakumei, beefy fingers crushing small dents into the corner. She could hear the concrete crumble to the sidewalk. That could have easily been her face. “You’ve been a bad girl!”
“Run!” Keiko screamed and grabbed Hakumei’s hand, pulling her away from the wall as Mr. Iwamoto swiped at the air behind her. They were getting faster.
They ran all the way around to the back of the building only to be pulled into the hedges by a woman with blue hair and head-to-toe leather. Hakumei could hear the others approaching their hiding spot. She fought to control her breath, to quiet her heartbeat so it wouldn’t give her away. Keiko was still struggling against their savior, despite the harsh whispers trying to calm her down.
It was too much noise. They were going to be found out. They would be caught and killed. Didn’t they understand? Why couldn’t everyone just keep quiet? Anxiety attacks were supposed to be irrational states. What was she supposed to do now that the danger was literally hunting her down? Where was her logic now? Hakumei covered her face with her hands. This was just too much.
The bushes around them grew silent as the zombies ran passed them. The blue-haired woman holding Keiko stared at her until Keiko broke free. With a gasp their volume returned to normal. Hakumei flinched at the sudden increase in sound.
“You’re that girl Yusuke hangs out with on the roof,” Keiko said, struggling to remember the name. “Botan… What’s going on?”
“Have they hurt you?” she asked, ignoring Keiko’s question. Hakumei whipped around as Botan pulled out a pink compact from her jacket pocket. Her voice… it reminded her of Yusuke’s under that accent.
“Not me, but Hakumei’s bleeding,” Keiko said.
“I’m fine,” Hakumei said.
With a worried glance back to Hakumei ears, Botan opened the compact. Hakumei heard static. “Yusuke. Yusuke, come in.” She sounded like death.
Hakumei swallowed and scooted closer, leaning in to see Yusuke on a little screen where the mirror should be. She was pretty sure Mr. Watanabe had a mobile phone, but she had never seen a one up close before. She had always figured they were bigger, though, and not shaped like make-up. They definitely didn’t have video capabilities. Who was Botan that she’d have this kind of technology?
Yusuke stuttered. “Keiko? And Issei, what the hell?”
“What happened to your ears, Hakumei?” Kuwabara leaned in behind Yusuke and Hakumei let out an audible sigh of relief. He was alive, but there were two others with them, a boy in black and… She froze. The redheaded stranger from yesterday. He leaned closer to Yusuke when he saw her, but his expression betrayed nothing.
“It’s nothing. What happened to your shirt?” Kuwabara was half-naked and covered in scratches and bruises, but they looked like they were in some sort of war zone. The sky behind them was smoky and red. He blushed and scratched the back of his head. “Oh, well, you know… Like what you see?” he asked, suddenly flexing.
Yusuke pushed him out of view, “Knock it off.”
“I had to pick them up from school,” Botan said. “Every infected person in the area is looking for them, and I’m almost certain they mean to kill.” Infected… So the insects… They could see them too?
“Did you say kill?” Yusuke said.
Kuwabara leaned in. “So that’s what my premonition was…” Premonition… She was putting pieces together, but she still didn’t have enough information.
Hakumei shook her head. “It’s just Keiko,” she said. “They’re only after Keiko.”
“The beasts must be using the Makai whistle to—”
Iwamoto ripped the bushes apart, showering them with leaves and broken twigs. Botan pushed Keiko and Hakumei out of the way as he sent his fist flying into the wall behind them. The concrete cracked on impact. Hakumei barely had time to catch her breath before Botan was pulling them up, “Come on!” and running to the other side of the building.
She collapsed against the wall after they turned a corner. Keiko was interrogating Botan about her relationship with Yusuke. How did she still have the energy to bring up her love life after all this?
“Why don’t we work out those details after we escape the hundreds of infected humans who want to kill you?” Botan had said infected humans. Hakumei could already guess what the infection was, but why would Botan refer to them as humans… unless she wasn’t one…
The invisible insects, Yusuke and Kuwabara’s voices, Kuwabara’s premonition, the redheaded stranger, the zombies, Botan, the beasts and their stupid whistle…all of them were connected. Could the boy in black have been the shadow on the roof as well?
Hakumei leaned her head back against the wall and tried to breathe, but Keiko hauled her up and they were on the move again. The phones were cut. The teacher’s lounge had no aid to offer. She was beginning to feel like they were in a horror film, constantly running, turning corners, racing to get ahead, and just when she felt like her legs were going to give out they found themselves trapped in a dead end. Zombies filling in, blocking any hope of escape.
She was breathing hard, so hard. Her throat hurt, her chest was tight and dry. Her shirt was sticky with sweat. Keiko was the same, panting with harsh determination fierce on her face, hair sticking to her forehead and neck. Hakumei clung to her well-practiced logic. If this was actually happening, which it appeared to be, then whatever irregularity it was followed its own set of rules. She just wished she knew what they all were.
“I’m the person these sickos are following. Let me lead them to one side so you can get away,” Keiko said.
That’s right. She could run. She could just walk away from this. They weren’t after her. They would just let her go. It was one of the rules, she realized. They’d ignore her completely and she could go back to the way things were, studying, singing, watching the kids… Why should she die for a girl she barely even knew? She owed her nothing.
Her hands tightened into fists. “We haven’t been running all this time just to abandon you now,” Hakumei said. “You’re my only friend. I can’t just let you get eaten by zombies.”
Botan had her fists up, feet apart, coiled to pounce. “Yes, I’m sure you’d make a wonderful distraction, but it’s much more important that you survive…”
Important to who? This Botan person, she seemed nice enough, but then, people weren’t always what they seemed. End of the line, Botan wasn’t like Hakumei. She wasn’t like Keiko. She wasn’t clueless. She knew the whole story. She knew the logic behind this, and Hakumei intended to find out what it was.
“There has to be something…” Botan continued, eyes resting on a fire extinguisher hanging on the hallway shelf under the window, just passed the first line of zombies. It was a long-shot hope, but it was the only hope left. “Are you—?”
“We’ll separate on three,” Keiko said.
“Why wait?” Hakumei grabbed Keiko’s wrist and bolted to the side, attempting to squeeze passed the mob along the wall.