The Art of War
Yesterday was a bloodbath. The thing you need to keep in mind about the living dead is that after a while they stop rotting. About two months to be precise. As if there is a limit to the amount they can decay. Nobody knows why they stop rotting. Whatever the Resurrection virus does to them, it preserves them indefinitely as a living corpse.
Some have gone as far as to begin calling them Lazarus’s children, as if it’s some kind of divine miracle which prevents them from wasting away into nothingness. But I guarantee you this much, it’s not a miracle. It’s a goddamn curse.
Yesterday I realized my greatest fear. For as long as I can remember it has been the fear of getting overwhelmed, and fighting until I can’t raise my sword any longer, and then crumpling under the weight of the chomping teeth and cracked fingernails of clawing hands of the living dead.
And I’ll spare you the gory details, but let’s just say it wasn’t pretty. Imagine this nightmare; imagine being overwhelmed, succumbing to the biting mouths filled with jagged bloody teeth and the realization that it’s your own blood they maws are red with. Imagine the sheering pain as they tear away your flesh from your very bones only for them to stop feeding on you when your body finally goes cold.
Now imagine being aware of everything that’s going on the whole time without the hope of release. Because unlike everybody else, you’re special. You can’t die.
Imagine waking up several hours later and the horde has moved on, and your body, my body, completely mended—as if nothing had ever happened.
Except the emotional scars tearing through your psyche, from having been awake for every bloody minute of getting eaten alive, is trapped in your memory—and this damage is lasting. It’s not the sort of thing you just walk off and shake out of your head. It closer to a rape—of being defiled—of being powerless to prevent your ruin. But even though you come out alive, the trauma is everlasting. So then you wake up, and every moment after that amounts to you coping with it. Trying not to let the scar tear open again and let all the pain come flooding back.
That’s the nightmare I have to live with.
Even if you get bit, gods forbid, you’re still luckier than those poor sobs who can’t fucking die. Not dying in a world of living dead—that’s the real curse.
And the fact that they can hurt you—again and again—well, some days it just makes you want to rage against the world. It makes you want to douse yourself and everything around you in gasoline an light up. It makes you want to scorch every corner of the Earth and burn the whole bloody thing down to the ground so all that remains is a cinder orbiting a star in the cold part of the galaxy—and only then would you be satisfied.
You’re probably wondering how I found myself in such a situation. Well, as embarrassing as it is to say this, chock it up to carelessness. It all came about when I happened to run into Mizuki’s older brother, Takahiro. Let’s just say he wasn’t keen on seeing me again after what I did to his little sister. Payback is a bitch, as they say.
But I get it. Family is family, even if they are psychotic lunatics without a shred of humanity left. And to be honest, I expected Takahiro to make an attempt sooner. What I wasn’t expecting was that he had the stones to ambush me. In the few months since I killed his sister, it’s almost as if, as if he had studied her notebook on how to be a vindictive asshole. I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Or the other bad apples, for that matter.
As it turns out, Mizuki’s sweet, big brother Takahiro proved himself to be a tyrant in his own right. I always pegged him as a dimwit. Sure, he had the looks, but the brains—that was Mizuki’s department. Now I see that I should have given him more credit.
It was the end of the week, and so I had taken three of my men to Chiba ward to a raid one of the local warehouses. It was no big deal, since it was a warehouse we’ve been to before, and we knew just what to expect. But seeing as how it’s the end times and all, I felt it was probably better to be safe than sorry. So my men were heavily armed. Sub machine guns, swords, knives, I even made sure they had body armor on.
None of this does shit against good old fashioned C4 explosives however. Or so I found out the hard way.
My men were instantly blown into mince meat pie. I only fared slightly better and came out a living charcoal husk. Rising off the floor, I saw two things that unnerved me. First was my men dripping from the walls in wet meaty chunks. Second was seeing the grinning face of Takahiro looking down at me from the second story service entrance. He was standing there with his clan of Banjin rebels—laughing at the fact that they had finally done in the infamous Princess Gangster.
But what really torqued my chain was that goddamn smile of his. He knew he had outwitted me, and he was reveling in the victory. But I didn’t have time to curse or swear I’d get revenge, because at that very instant, when he smiled, that’s when they flooded the main storage area with at least six or seven hundred of relentless living dead.
I did my best to fight them off, but in my condition, I was quickly overrun by the swarm—and it was feeding time.
I guess it is true what they say, revenge is a dish best served cold. But the way I see it, this whole an eye for an eye business gets old real fast. If I go after Takahiro, his people will just come after me, and this endless chain of senseless stupidity will go on for as long as it takes someone to grow some sense or until everyone has killed everyone else off.
There are more important things worth fighting for than one’s honor. Besides, honor isn’t something that is earned. Respect is. Honor amounts to little more than being raised to a lofty position through praise and adoration, and all the hot steam that’s been blown up your ass, regardless of whether it has been earned. Respect on the other hand is harder to come by. You have to work for it. It requires building trust—and that means keeping your word.
So the way I see it, I either have to track and hunt down every single Banjin in this goddamn city and, for good measure, kill the whole lot of them—or I have to let bygones be.
As hard as it is, I’ve chosen to allow Takahiro and his band of rebels to go free. For now, at any rate. And to be honest, it’s not like I had to really think about it that long and hard. I mean, I don’t’ want to kill people over stupid things like territorial spats and silly blood vendettas. Not when human life is as endangered as it is. But at the same time, I know I have to send a clear message, so I’ll do the next best thing. In fact, I already have.
This very morning I gave the word to have all our storage units, including every major warehouse we keep our food stockpiles in, fortified with my army of loyal Yakuza.
Hell, I’m trying to rebuild the biggest city on the planet one block at a time, and I don’t have the time or energy to run off on silly revenge missions. Revenge takes time, energy, and resources. It’s a hard business. And I have better things to do.
So this is what I have in play. I’ve placed twelve armed guards at nine food storage facilities and have effectively locked out all Banjin from our local trade routes, effectively cutting them off from doing business with anyone inside the city. This trade embargo will send a strong message that I mean business. You’re either with me or you’re against me.
Now Takahiro and his band of Banjin have to make a decision. Either surrender to my demands of surrender or starve to death. Of course, there’s a third option. They could simply leave the city altogether and never show their faces here again, which would be fine by me. Somehow I doubt that will be Takahiro’s next move—especially after he hears that I survived.
The bottom line is, the next move is theirs.
I’m Saeko Sakaguchi, but everyone just calls me Princess Gangster. If you’re reading this, count yourself among the lucky ones. You’ve survived this long. That’s no small feat. In the meantime, I welcome you to my humble, zombie infested, city. The most dangerous place on Earth: Tokyo—Land of the Living Dead.
***September 18, 2019 (Z.E.)
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.