The Lie that Destroys
Don’t think that I forgot. You are probably wondering why would I raise the issue of killing my best friend only to drop the subject. Well, a couple of things. I couldn't actually talk about it until after the fact, and well, also because it’s not something I feel comfortable talking about.
After Kevin decided to stay in San Francisco to help Alyssa and the Gunslinger regain control of the city and re-open the ports so that a new supply trade between Vancouver and Hawaii could be re-established, I returned to Japan on the first cargo ship to set sail since the outbreak.
While on board I met a young man named Takahiro Suzuki. He was thirty four and good looking. One of those well-built athletic type. I later learned that he was an avid swimmer. Which probably explains why the sex was so damn amazing. His stamina was oh-my-fucking-god-I-can’t-believe-this-is-my-third-orgasm kind of good.
Needless to say being penned up on a boat for two weeks wasn't a total waste of time.
After returning to my motherland, Takahiro introduced me to his sister Mizuki Suzuki. Mizuki and I hit it off instantly and we stayed friends even after her brother and I broke it off. What can I say, the only thing Takahiro and I had in common was the boat. After that, things went cold fast. But his sister was something else. Mizuki was everything I ever wanted in a friend. A lover. And a partner.
And yesterday I had no choice but to…
It’s so damn hard to say what I did. But I was left no choice. You see, Mizuki had lied to me. It was an unforgivable lie. A lie so dark and twisted that I could hardly believe my beloved Mizuki would be the type to…
I mean, it’s not like I’m an idiot. One of the things that comes with being the leader of a crime organization is that you learn how to read people. And I got damn good at it. It became an instinct to me. Reading people was second nature, and I still beat myself up over the fact that Mizuki, wonderful, happy, bubbly and bright Mizuki turned out to be my goddamn Moriarty.
She blinded me with love. Love used, in this case, as a horrible weapon. My ability to read her through the blind-struck love I felt for her caused me to make one of the greatest mistakes in my new positions as Princess Gangster.
Mizuki was an assassin. She came into my room one night and, as per usual, we made love. After I fell asleep I awoke to hear her having a conversation on the phone. As I aroused myself I made an attempt to reach over for a cigarette but found that I had been zip tied to the bed.
At first I thought it was some sort of prank. I called out her name, but Mizuki simply ignored me. After her conversation she turned toward me and stared at me with cold, unfeeling eyes. Those were not the eyes of Mizuki, but the eyes of a heartless killer.
Then she came over to me, opened a small pouch, and pulled out a syringe with tainted blood. She informed me that it was quite deadly, and that it contained a fast acting strain of the Resurrection virus. I would be sure to turn in a matter of minutes and then she would kill me, untie me, then claim she acted in self-defense.
Her plan was simply to position herself high up in the ranks of the Yakuza and act as an informant for a rival gang of loyalists who simply called themselves the “Banjin” which means “People from the North.”
Their goal is simple enough. They want to re-establish a limited government, so they can vote on distributing food, rebuild communities, and begin living like normal people again. The problem is, they want to include the zombies as “citizens” in this new model. So ideally, some of the distributed food would be going to them. Namely, living people.
That’s right—the Banjin think zombies have rights. And they want to allow for their existence. What’s more, they want to feed you to them. Of course, this I cannot abide. Anyone who views the monsters as anything other than a plague which needs to be eradicated is, in my mind, no better than the monsters themselves.
Unbeknownst to me at the time the Banjin were setting themselves up to infiltrate my organization and then, little by little, dismantle it from the inside.
All this I could have forgiven Mizuki. In fact, I would have gladly run off with her, left Japan, and found some small corner of the globe where the infection had not spread yet and we could have lived happily in a state of solitude.
Of course, now I know it was just all a pipe dream. But my dear Mizuki went ahead and followed out her orders like a good little saboteur and gained my trust only to betray me. Having trapped me, she plunged the syringe full of infected blood into my mother-fucking neck and had to gull to laugh at me—like she had one upped me. As if she had gotten away with it. But there is a distinct difference between gaining advantage and taking advantage.
What Mizuki didn’t know however, was that I was one of the ten percent—one of the ten percent who have a natural immunity to the Resurrection virus. When nothing happened she freaked. When I snapped my bonds as if they were made of paper, she tried to run.
She ran straight to the roof of our forty story condominium that we were living in at the time, and before I had come to she had called in back up. Soon enough the Banjin sent in an S-64 Skycrane helicopter—a weird dragonfly looking machine—which carried a massive intermodal container under its steel belly. The kind that cargo ships carry.
Dashing out of the way, I jumped, tucked, and rolled and narrowly avoided the steel crate as it came crashing down onto the roof. Lodged partway into the rooftop of the building, sweet little Mizuki clambered onto the container and opened its doors. A flood of agitated zombies spewed out of the container and made their way toward me. There were at least a dozen of them.
And they weren't the nice kind either.
They were what we have come to call D-biters. The “D” stands for “dash” because, well, they can fucking run. They’re terrifyingly fast.
As far as we know the undead have evolved into three distinct categories. First there are the zoms, or alternatively called dead-heads, which consist of your classic bumbling, stumbling, nomadic biters. Second are the D-biters, who can chase you down like a cheetah chasing down a gazelle. Deadly as they are terrifying, but they’re easy to detect and so easy enough to avoid. Third are the Alpha-strain. If you run into an alpha, you’re most likely dead. They have the ability to regenerate, or heal, a lot like those of us who are immune to the Resurrection virus. They also morph into a de-evolved lizard like form. Grow wings. And their bites burn like acid.
Don’t ask me how it works. I don’t know. I’m not a scientist. All I know is that it has something to do with the Omega gene.
Immunity from the contagion depends exclusively on whether or not you have the Omega gene in your DNA. As for the Alphas, there seems to be a small fraction of people, less than 3%, whose Omega gene contains a bizarre mutation that still allows for zombification, but also prompts a retrograde evolution where vestigial traits come back. They look less like zombies than monsters, but the fact which remains is that they can spread the virus.
If the phrase Living Nightmare comes to mind, you’re not alone in that assessment. Even for people like me, immune to the virus, I can guarantee that the things earn the name Living Nightmare, because they are.
If you ever hear somebody boasting they've survived an encounter with a Living Nightmare, you can be certain about one of two things. Either they are a major bad-ass and someone you want on your side, or they are a mother-fucking liar who thinks that big-headed bragging about non-existent feats will give them street cred.
But if there’s one thing I hater almost more than zombies its goddamn liars. Which brings me back to our lovely little Mizuki—a lying snake in the grass.
As her ambush of D-biters came streaming out of the metal container, I set to task slashing the skulls of their undead faces in half. However, this distraction gave Mizuki the time she needed to make her escape.
Betrayed by my best friend and with a broken heart, I set out on a vendetta to find Mizuki and repay her the favor.
It took two months but I finally tracked her down. I discovered where she was hiding by rekindling my relationship with her brother, who—although wasn’t part of the Banjin—still kept in touch with Mizuki. It was only a matter of time before I found out where her base of operations was.
Looks can be deceiving. I learned that the hard way. Sweet innocent Mizuki turned out to be a venomous viper. But she picked the wrong girl to strike at. After all, if I lost my entire empire to such a charlatan, then I wouldn't have the reputation I do. As such, I can’t afford anything other than a razor sharp image and an attitude tougher than steel. Cross me, and I don’t take it lightly.
So like I said, I repaid Mizuki in kind. But instead of dropping one cargo container on her secret lair, I dropped twenty.
Hey, like I said, being the head of my own empire comes with its perks. I have nearly unlimited access to all the technology that remains, and the manpower to dole out tenfold what I receive. In this case, twenty-fold After all, I also pride myself on a certain amount of flair. You can’t be a princess in this day and age without a modicum of style. Because that would be sacrilege.
Needless to say the D-biters decimated the Banjin’s secret base. It was an old bomb bunker in Hokkaido, built as a safeguard for important dignitaries if North Korea ever decided to bomb the hell out of Japan.
But I blew open their concrete doors and let swarms of the undead inside. After that I stood outside and waited for the screams to subside. After silence overcame the facility, I waited for her.
When she stepped out, bloody and bruised, I had my men seal up the doors to contain the monsters. Then it was just me and her.
I remember it well, because it was cold as hell. The snow began to snow just as the sun started to set and there, standing in the twilight hour amid twinkling snowflakes was my precious Mizuki. I’ll never forget the sadness in her eyes.
But I could tell her tears weren’t because of any kind of regret for what she had done. She didn't regret her betrayal. The only thing she regretted was her failure. I would have gladly embraced her in my arms if she had shown even the slightest sign of remorse for her immense betrayal. Would I have ever forgiven her? Probably not. But I would have let her live.
But instead—she mocked me—by crying for her failure instead of saying sorry for breaking my heart.
Bitten in the escape, she stood before me and pleaded for me to put her out of her misery before she turned. Before she lost her mind. Before she became her true self. So I obliged her dying wish.
Sliding my blade through her chest, she gurgled, and as blood began to trickle down her lips we both sank to our knees. Perched upon the newly strewn blanket of snow, I kissed her blood stained lips and then whispered into her ears an emotionless “Goodbye.”
It was the least I could do for a liar and a lover.
My name is Saeko Sakaguchi. I don’t always like having to do the things I do, but I think you’ll find it’s a necessary evil. I wish it wasn't I wish things like love and kindness were still options, but in a fallen world where undead monsters reign supreme, fear is the new Lord. Fear is legion. And you can either cower in subservience before it or rebel against it.
So I choose to continue the fight. If you’re reading this now, count yourself among the lucky. And whatever you do, don’t give into fear. If you do, you may just find yourself on the other end of my blade.
August 23, 2019 (Z.E.)
Blood. Guts. And Death.
How did it happen? That’s what everybody wanted to know after the Resurrection virus consumed over half of the planet. Where did it come from. Who was responsible?
The truth is that it was a combination of events that daisy-chained into an explosive situation, and once the fuse was lit it was just a matter of time before it all went to hell in a handbasket--goodbye world and hello death and destruction.
Having been one of the lucky few to read Alyssa Brigg’s diary, I have pieced together the things I learned about the Omega gene with what I was able to find out on my own. It goes something like this…
At the beginning of the 21st century, in order to feed the world’s booming population, meat production was increased tenfold. Subsequently this put a huge strain on the environment, and as virologists dumped more and more antibiotics into the animals, the more viruses became immune to them. Now as I understood it, 70% of all antibiotics produced were used on farmed animals, not humans, and these antibiotics were practically pumped into the animals which were to be slaughtered for meat production. The exact sort of meat you would buy at our local supermarket. A steak. Some minced hamburger. You name it. If it was a meat product, it had been saturated with antibiotics.
Needless to say it was only a matter of time before the antibiotics failed. After all, the viruses simply were quicker than the scientists at adapting. Once they realized antibiotics were a lost cause, scientists started messing with gene therapy. After all, instead of doing the sensible thing and using the millions of acres of land to grow produce for human consumption instead of corn for animal feed, scientists just started manipulating the genes of the animals themselves. The created super-animals with super-immune systems. And everything was good. At least for a time.
Meanwhile, in China, the unthinkable happened. The Chinese government was tinkering with two of the most deadly strains of viruses ever discovered by man. The bird flu and swine flu. They successfully combined the two, just to show that creating a super-virus in the lab was possible.
Never mind how it happened. But it happened. The super-virus got out. Then, as you can imagine, eventually this super-virus found its way to the aforementioned super-animals. And well, then the rest, as they say, is history.
By the time they had the Omega gene ready to inoculate against the viral epidemic, things took a sudden turn for the worst. The super-virus had hybridized with common rabies, and had grown into an uncontrollable chimera. One which could be spread from animal to animal as well as animal to human.
Soon enough the animal clinics were overflowing. Hospitals were unable to keep up with the number of cases coming in. Then… well… then it was already too late.
The animals had all gone mad. Everyone was biting everything in sight. People. Other animals. Even the birds turned on each other, like hungry piranhas, they devoured each other and ate each other alive.
At first the news called it a new strain of rabies. But the truth is that it was much, much worse. It was a super-virus that could infect every single living thing on the planet.
Flash forward to ten months later and meat farms were incinerating all of their livestock. Pillars of black smoke raised high into the sky all across the U.S., China, Australia, and much of Europe. But burning the poor animals didn’t help. The virus was already unleashed.
Jump ahead six months, and then people started getting sick. But unlike the genocide of animals, governments weren’t willing to start sending entire populations of humans into the furnaces. So back to the gene-therapy. The final attempt to give humans super-immune systems to fend off the super-viruses.
Goddamn them. They succeeded. But it was already too late.
People had already begun to eat each other. Ironic, considering the whole things started to satiate the carnivorous appetite of the human race.
But the horror of people tearing each other to shreds was just the beginning. After a couple of bloody weeks which seemed to endlessly drag on, as the virus decimated entire populations, as cities crumbled and it was every man, woman, and child for themselves… something unprecedented occurred. Those who had died began to resurrect.
Nobody knows exactly how the virus functions. But once the person, regardless of their physical condition, the virus has a way of calling a person back from the dead—which is why we call them the living dead. Once the infected person reawakens they are little more than a mindless monster with one simple desire—to eat meat.
Governments sent their militaries in to cleanse entire cities in the hopes of cutting off the viral contagion before it had a chance to spread. Quarantine zones were set up to try and get as many of the uninfected out before “The Cleansing” was initiated.
As cities burned to the ground, bands of hardy survivors grouped together to better survive the surrounding chaos, and they did the only thing they could do—try not to get bit.
I was a high school girl student in Japan when the initial outbreak occurred. I remember it well, because it was the day I was almost raped. If it wasn’t for a nice American boy named Kevin Benjamin Russell who helped me escape, I would have surely been another statistic, another victim of man’s unbridled, unthinking cruelty.
But Benjamin put up a fight. At least he tried to.
As it happened, he got the shit kicked out of him, and was knocked unconscious trying to fend off my attackers.
While Kevin lay unconscious on the pavement at my feet, I was tied up, sucker-punched in the gut, gagged, and stripped of all my clothes. I was humiliated in front of my attackers who could only view me as a piece of meat. But then … there he was. The most unlikeliest of saviors.
A dark figure silhouetted by the setting sun atop the hill at the end of the street. His moan penetrated the jeers of my attackers and distracted them enough that they turned to confront this rude intruder. That’s when the first zombie I had ever seen stepped forth and proceeded to eat my attackers alive.
Luckily Kevin regained consciousness just in time to untie me and we got the hell out of there. Looking back, we saw the tattered salary man perched atop of his prey, tearing my attacker’s eye out of his socket as he screamed for us to save him.
What a joke. The dickwad tries to rape me and then asks for my help? Let’s just say he got what he deserved.
The next day the news was reporting that Tokyo was in full lock-down. No one in or out. Every airport in Japan had been frozen, and the shipyards were jammed packed with freighter vessels double parked. At first we thought it might be terrorists. North Korea perhaps. But then we soon realized what was really happening, and it was far worse than we expected.
People turned on each other. I remember Kevin and I running past a preschool only to see a swarm of children tear down one of the female teachers like a swarm of damned locusts descending upon their next meal. She reached her hand out toward us as she tried to tear herself from their meat claws. It was as if she was beckoning for us to save her, as if I would only take a chance and reach my hand out and clasp hers. But she was overpowered by the mass which just pulled her back. As she fell backward into the swarm I will never forget the horrible sense of fear which came over me as I watched those petrified eyes of hers slowly disappear. All I could do was watch. And then she was gone.
I felt horrible just leaving her like that. But I was too scared to do anything. Besides, if I had tried to save her one of two things would have happened. Either I would have wound up exactly like her, overpowered by the hungry swarm, or else, I would have succeeded. Saved her, and then hours later, she would have unexpectedly turned on me and killed me anyway.
Tears streaming out of my eyes, Kevin and I did the only thing we could, and fled. We ran and ran, and we didn’t dare look back.
And that’s how it all began.
This is Saeko Sakaguchi. My nickname is Princess Gangster, Warlord of the island nation of Japan—an inherited title I can assure you. You may call me Sae. Most of my friends do. You may have heard about me, but if not, I lead the resistance here in Tokyo. And I am writing to warn you: Avoid Tokyo at all costs. It’s a lost cause. The city is fallen. Nothing remains here but twelve million hungry souls. None of them friendly. I repeat, do not come to Tokyo. It’s a deathtrap.
If you hear from me again, then count yourself among the lucky. Until then, stay vigilant, stay safe, and whatever you do—don’t get bit.
August 15, 2019 (Z.E.)
Sex. Killing. Cigarettes.
Sex. Killing. And cigarettes. Those are the things I'm good at. The things I'm bad at? Well, relationships for starters. I would tell you to ask my ex-boyfriend, but that would sort of be, like, impossible considering I killed him. But don't think I'm a psychopath or anything. It was a valid kill. He turned into a zombie... and well... goodbye sweetheart.
Like I said, I'm bad at relationships. Good at killing. My name's Saeko Sakaguchi and to the rest of the world I'm known better as Princess Gangster, leader of the Yakuza, victor over the Blood Queen, sovereign ruler of a fallen city, and world renowned monster slayer.
But that's not why I'm writing this damn journal. What I really needed to say ... what I really need to tell you... well, it can wait until I finish my cigarette. But when I do, I promise you, the creepy whacked out $#!t I'm about to tell you will have your skin crawling and you locking your doors. But first things first.
Shit. I singed another hole in my favorite skirt. The navy blue with green plaid stripes. I may have to take smoking off the list of things I do well. Shit, shit, shit. But hell, I still can blow a goddamn magnificent smoke ring.
At any rate, the reason I am writing this diary is because my friend Alyssa Briggs, yes that Alyssa Briggs, the same Alyssa Briggs who helped reclaim Hawaii and is currently hunting down the dead-heads of the great northern territories in what used to be the Western United States. She too keeps a diary. Diaries are important. Perhaps more now than ever. She reminded me as much before I left the scorched wasteland of the Northwestern frontier after we defeated the Blood Queen together. After all, everything you could ever wish to know about the devastating effects of the Resurrection virus and the subsequent zombie plague was written down in her diary, and well, that’s a bit of history right there.
History. Stories. That’s what diaries are about. People's stories. Personal ones. Some of them good. Some bad. Some of them painful. Every so often some of it meaningful. Inspiring. But mostly, mostly its meaningless drivel. Irrelevant trivialities which all detail the banal existence of a stranger whose life is so unimportant that we would never consider it special if it weren't for the surrounding events which make life so unpredictable. That's the best part of diaries, after all, the twists and turns, the shock of unfortunate events, and the surprise of unforeseen revelations.
Writing a diary is just one small way of making yourself immortal. Once you've shuffled off this mortal coil and are long gone, it will remain. It will always be there, waiting to be cracked open by some curious soul. Someday, some wanderer will chance upon it perched on some unassuming shelf in some rundown home collecting dust. In that following moment in which they dust off the cover and turn to that first page, you are reborn.
That's the power of stories--and don't you dare forget it.
You see, that’s the thing I wanted to tell you. We’re all just stories in the end. And this is mine. This is the story of how I became the head of the Yakuza, Princess to an entire Island, and leader of the zombie resistance of Tokyo.
It's hot. Forty degrees in Tokyo. Hell, you can see my underwear through my sweat soaked white shirt, but that doesn't matter. I'm currently perched high above the city on a maintenance catwalk high up on the Tokyo Tower. Bellow me are a dozen moaning zoms with their pallid fingers clawing desperately up at me. They smell my perspiration They smell dinner. Luckily I'm high enough up that their moans are faint and barely perceptible. No threat to me now. For now I can relax. Which is why I'm smoking another cigarette while writing.
Honestly I don't know what to write. So I'll just start off with your typical small chitchat. Today was a stereotypical slash and bash exercise. The goal is to use the strength of the clan to isolate pockets of the monsters and, using spiked baseball bats, chainsaws, and choke wire, bind them, blitzkrieg attack them, and then, well, you guessed it: slash and bash. It's a good way to let the boys blow off some steam. Some of them still seem a little bit bitter toward me regarding the fact that I overthrew their warlord and now they have to answer to a girl. But they learned quick enough not to ever question my authority. The first and last person who did that, well, let's just say he won't be walking anytime soon.
Oh, you thought I was going to be all sweet and innocent, didn't you? Don't let my being 21 years old or the fact that I look amazing in a skirt fool you. I don't take shit from anyone. Especially barbarians with low level I.Q.s and a penchant for violence. Give them an inch and they'll take everything you got--including your life. But rule them with an iron fist and they'll be eating out of the palm of your hand. Here in Japan it's about honor and respect. And what trained killers respect most is authority. Without it, they'd devolve into mad animals and kill each other off in petty territorial disputes. It's in their best interest that they find a leader--someone to guide them--rule over them. Keep them from devouring themselves.
You may be wondering how a teenage girl like me got promoted to the top ranks of the Yakuza? Well, it's like this, they had a real evil son-of-a-bitch master known as Ijin Gen. He was gunning for control of all of Tokyo after the outbreak of the Resurrection virus. But he was defeated by a warrior known throughout the land as 'The Dark Angel.' Yes, I've met her. Don't act shocked. She's real.
After his humiliation, he came to me with a proposition of a partnership. But you see, this sick, twisted, son-of-a-bitch had my boyfriend killed, and so of course, in my mind ... when your lover's killer offers you a spot by his side you don't say no. You say yes, and then you kill the mother fracker. So as you probably expected, I gladly accepted his proposition, then at the first chance I got, I cut his mother frakking head off with my sword.
As a consequence of my brash decision I had the unfortunate happenstance to inherit the title of Japan's new warlord, and as my bonus I received an entire army of cold blooded killers who were honor bound--by their own sacred rules--to bend their knees to me. But I'm making the best of it. After all, when you're a second class citizen to the zombie scourge, it never hurts to have an army of ruthless killers on your side.
Tomorrow I’m meeting a dear old friend of mine. Someone who helped change my life forever. Someone I’ll be eternally indebted to. A person I have loved more than life itself. And the worst part of it all is, tomorrow I will be forced to kill them. But that’s tomorrow.
My name is Saeko Sakaguchi, and I am writing to you from the ruins of Tokyo. If you don’t hear from me again, it’s because I’m dead. If you do hear from me again, then I can honestly say that it’s been a good day— for the both of us.
August 13, 2019 Zombie Era (Z.E.)
"Sex. Killing. And cigarettes. Those are the things I'm good at. The things I'm bad at? Well, relationships for starters. I would tell you to ask my ex-boyfriend, but that would sort of be, like, impossible considering I killed him. But don't think I'm a psychopath or anything. It was a valid kill. He turned into a zombie... and well... goodbye sweetheart. Like I said, I'm bad at relationships. Good at killing. My name's Saeko Sakaguchi and to the rest of the world I'm known better as Princess Gangster, leader of the Yakuza, victor over the Blood Queen, and world renowned monster slayer. But that's not why I'm writing this damn journal. What I really need to say... what I really need to tell you... well, it can wait until I finish my cigarette. But when I do, I promise you, the creepy whacked out $#!t I'm about to tell you will have your skin crawling and you locking your doors. But first things first."
(Princess Gangster, A BITTEN universe web series spin-off. Coming soon!)
Tristan Vick is the author of the Bitten Resurrection virus saga as well as the quirky pulp novel The Scarecrow & Lady Kingston: Rough Justice. Princess Gangster is his Resurrection virus spin-off webserial based on the lead character from Bitten 2: Land of the Rising Dead.