Good news everyone! I’m not dead!
So… not much I can say for myself. I want to blame it on the holidays, but the fact of the matter is I’m a lazy, good-for-nothing, bastard.
After Yusuke had left to investigate the fire…
On the 3rd floor of the super market, Mizuki and her brothers were preparing to leave.
Mizuki makes her brothers wear jumpers to ward off the cold. Placing a battery powered lantern on the desk, they quickly gather everything necessary for their departure.
She had divided food and clothing up and placed them in her brothers ruk-sacks, along with bottled water. With this it would raised the likeliness of them surviving if they every got separated.
They could grab another one along the way, so Mizuki didn’t pack the rice cooker. Besides, the generator couldn’t run very many appliances at once. Yusuke had found some solar powered equipment, but was unsuccessful in installing it and it was left untouched. In any case, they would have little power.
Mizuki packs various documents and self-made notes in a bag, as well as tightly wrapped food into a cardboard box.
The bulkiest items were clothing. So that their luggage wouldn’t become cluttered, they just brought their winter clothes (snow suits) and underwear. Mizuki packed what her brothers couldn’t carry with their rucksacks in her bag. She also used the field backpack Yusuke had left behind to pack towels and other cleaning supplies.
(It’s like I’m preparing to travel.) (TL: She means go on a trip/vacation)
This thought runs across Mizuki’s mind.
About to leave the now familiar office, she felt uneasy.
However, she was looking forward to leaving this cooped up environment. She had expectations for her life in the mountains.
Mizuki was absorbed in learning about agriculture as instructed by Yusuke.
She wasn’t all that familiar with potteries, but the thought of growing something lit a fire in her chest.
It was hope.
Right now, Mizuki and her brothers were just survivors of a broken civilization.
However, growing the food they needed in order to survive through the soil and her own power; with that action befitting humans, it would feel like things were getting back on track.
Living as a human, she felt it was something to be proud of.
(Anyway… if I follow Takemura-san, it’ll all work out, no matter where we go.)
Mizuki was smiling happily.
It was a strange sense of trust.
She carries the stuffed bag into the hall.
Rays of sunlight shine through the windows along the wall in the corridor, signalling the breaking of dawn.
At that moment, she notices the elevator display flash. The elevator was raising to her floor.
(I wonder if the fire was nothing?)
Thinking that he arrived quicker than she expected, she stops her movements.
She sets down her bags and waits for the elevator to open.
With a ding, the elevator arrives, and the doors slowly open.
Mizuki steps back.
What appeared in the elevator doors was not Yusuke.
It was a ragged, dirty, grimy, thin homeless looking person. (TL: Laughing so hard.)
Thick beard hair was growing out of his jaw, extending all the way to his shoulders. Scraps of vegetable waste were tangled the man’s hair. His clothes looked like something that was thrown away. Stains were scattered all over them. A terrible stench escaped into the hallway.
She remembers seeing him before somewhere.
The man looks at her and slightly opens his eyes.
The man places his hand on the door to keep it from shutting, and with his feet trailing behind, he walks out of the elevator.
As if pushed, Mizuki takes another step back.
“A…..no……” (TL: Searching for something to say.)
Leaking out a puzzled voice, the man’s right hand enters Mizuki’s line of sight.
In his hand was a dirty hammer. (TL: Have you come to fix the generator?)
Remaining silent, she slowly steps backwards towards the office.
She has the feeling she has seen this man before.
However, she is unable to recall when they have met.
Suppressing the shaking in her voice, she speaks,
“Are you a…… survivor? If it’s food, we have some. We have a bunch, so help yourself……”
She removes some food from her bag and places it on the floor. While the man’s attention is drawn to the food, Mizuki quietly falls back.
The man approaches the food and crouches down in front of it. At that moment, Mizuki turns and flees to the office, shutting the door behind her.
She would need a barricade as there was no lock on the door to the office.
If she had fled to the locker room, she would have been able to lock herself inside; but she escaped to the office thinking of her brothers.
Then, she remembers the identity of the man.
(……It was him……)
It was the lean looking man that was the last to leave the 3rd floor.
The man who’s gaze stuck to her, and who had banged on the locker room door late at night, trying to get her to open it.
Why was he still alive?
Where had he been until now?
At first Mizuki had been confused with his sudden appearance, but he was not the kind of opponent you could take a friendly approach with.
“Tak-kun, Ma-kun! Get to the back of the office!”
She yells at her brothers in the office. Surprised by her strong (threatening) attitude, they take their rucksacks and run to the back room of the office.
(If I can’t protect them…..!)
Thinking she could use a desk as a barricade, she goes to move it, but is unable to with her strength. It was the same with a nearby cabinet. During this time, the man could enter at any moment. Unable to compose herself, she panics.
With a confused face, she thinks,
(This won’t work! What should I…… How can I……)
The hot water supply room was outside across the hallway, so she couldn’t get the kitchen knife. However, there should be unused knives packed away in the office. So that her brothers couldn’t get to them, she had packed them in a locked cabinet along with other tools.
Pulling open the desk drawer and searching inside using the dim light from the lantern, she was finally able to find the key.
Unlocking the cabinet with trembling hands, she shoots a look at the door to the office, confirming that the man has yet to enter.
What was inside the cabinet consisted of a gas torch, a portable stove, and cutlery. Taking out the package containing the knives, she tears it open and grabs one.
At that moment, the door to the office opened.
Slowly, the mans face appears from the crack. He is still holding a hammer in his right hand.
The man silently observes Mizuki as if appraising her.
With trembling breaths, she stands from the cabinet and grips the knife in both of her hands.
She was surprised at her own killing intent.
“Don’t come any closer than that.”
The man remained silent.
“If you’re looking for food, I can give you everything we have. Once you have received everything, go back to where ever you were before. We will not be here tomorrow. You can come back then and use this place as you wish.”
If the man was listening to her, he didn’t show any signs of it. He just silently looked around the office.
(Is it no good?)
Mizuki bites her lip.
The previous time she was attacked, she could do nothing but tremble at the situation.
However, this time is different.
The current her had a goal, a purpose. The four of them would build a life together in the mountains. Someday, they would be living their days quietly in the mountains.
It was her reason to live.
Seeing the man take a step forward, Mizuki points her knife at him.
“…..I’m not… bluffing.”
The man stops.
Dropping his gaze to the hammer in his right hand, he pats it with his left hand, then looks back up.
He begins coughing.
While saying this, his hand loosens on the hammer and it falls.
Careful not to let her guard down, Mizuki keeps her stance and waits for the man to speak.
The man opens his mouth.
“……..Are the only other people here those two?”
At those words, Mizuki unintentionally looked back. Her brothers were peeking out from a door within the office, looking at them with worried expressions.
“Don’t! Go bac…..”
With a body crashing into something, Mizuki’s words were interrupted. A desk had been pushed over and pens, scissors, and other office supplies were scattered all over the floor. At the center of the mess was the man rushing towards her while holding a hammer.
Twisting her body, she swings the knife blindly. She feels the knife cut through something, and at the same time, feels a dull pain in her side.
Falling to the floor, she grips herself in pain.
While holding her side, she crawls away from the man, trying to put distance between them. Her transceiver had been knocked from her neck and was lying on the ground nearby.
She could feel something wet with her right hand holding the knife. The lantern was far away and she couldn’t see very well in the darkness, but it seemed to be blood.
If she looked intently, she could see the man holding his arm, staring at them. There was a lot of liquid dripping down from were he was holding. With that amount of blood, the cut appeared to be deep.
The man’s eyes were lit with anger.
Gripping his hammer, the man drew close with great strides.
Still gripping her side, Mizuki gets on her feet and turns to yell at her brothers.
“Close the door! It’s dangerous to come out!”
Saying what she needed, as if leaving the room her brothers were in behind, she presses forward into the desk’s surroundings.
Her forehead was wet with sweat, and the pain in her side was getting worse. The hammer seemed to have hit her in the ribs. Holding her side with her left hand, she grips the knife tightly with her right.
She was afraid.
However, she was dominated by an anger even stronger than her fear.
(By this kind of person…..!)
A despicable kind of person that preys on the weak.
Were they just toys to him?
Waiting for the right moment to strike, they glare at each other.
“…….hear…. me? ……………there……….”
Suddenly something could be heard at the man’s feet. It was the receiving sound of the transceiver. Surprised, the man comes to a stop and drops his gaze.
Not letting that opening pass, Mizuki runs towards the entrance.
Yusuke would be there soon.
With that encouragement, she is able to run through the mess of supplies around the desk despite her clumsy footing. Just when she was about to enter the hallway, an intense pain ran through her calf. Her posture breaks and she crashes into the cabinets next to her, collapsing on the floor.
Gripping her shoulder that hit the cabinet, she sits up from lying on her back.
The hammer was lying next to her. It had been thrown, and hit her leg.
She had let go of her knife at some point during the fall and it had disappeared.
Suddenly she feels a presence at her back and before she is able to turn around, she is kicked.
With the wind knocked out of her, Mizuki twists her body in pain. Writhing in pain on the floor, her thoughts start to scatter. She is unable to think straight.
Grabbed by her hair, she is pulled up from the floor.
Above her was the man, breathing like a beast. The stench of his breath hit her in the face. Assaulted by the smell of rot, the black silhouette of the man comes over her.
Mortified, tears begin forming in her eyes.
The man’s hand stretches out and hits her in the face. Her mind goes blank for a moment, and then she sees the man’s silhouette standing over her, holding the hammer.
Yuu’s crying voice called out. A small figure rushed over and crashes into the man’s back. The man staggers, but doesn’t fall; and directs his attention towards the younger brother. Behind him, Takeshi could be seen as well. While frightened, they had jumped out to help their sister. The man shakes them off with one arm and swings his hammer.
“Damee!!” (TL: “Don’t!!”)
Mizuki grabs onto the man’s legs, but is unable to stop his movements. The weapon swings, and blood flies through the air.