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The Glow

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Keiji didn’t expect the world to turn to chaos. Well, he knew it was inevitable but he didn’t know it was going to happen while he was still alive. Maybe in the year 2230 or 3000s--was that even a year? He definitely didn’t expect it to happen in the year 2019. Neither did he expect it to make him so untrusting of others. Though, the only reason why he was like that was because of a promise he made.

And he remembered the day he made the promise like it was yesterday.

 

“Keiji,” Keiji quickly looked over at the voice hushing his name. They were crouched behind a counter in a store they found while walking down a long road. It was the only thing for miles, and everything else around them was plains. They hadn’t expected so many of them to be around, but they were. The infected were banging on the door trying to get their hands on them to attack them. Keiji honestly didn’t know if they were going to kill them, eat them, turn them, or all of those. “Take the stuff and go.”

“Mom, what--”

“Go.” Keiji’s mother shoved her backpack filled with newly grabbed goods they raided in the store they found. He stared down at it not moving an inch. “Keiji, leave me behind.” Teary-eyed, Keiji made eye contact with his mother. He really did take after her with the dark blue eyes to the black, curly hair.

“You’ll die here.” Keiji quickly peeked over the counter. The infected were almost in. The chains on the door handle were slipping off, one end of the chains loosely hanging. “Mom, I can’t leave you here. There’s too many--” Keiji’s mother cut him off by grabbing ahold of his cheeks and pulling them to look at her.

“Keiji, listen to me. I’ll distract them. You run, and you run far. Get out of here. Get someplace safe. Promise me that you’ll get out of this town, promise me you’ll be as safe as you can given the circumstances, promise me you’ll never trust another soul again. You need to be on your own.”

“M-Mom--” The door banged from the infected, and it gave a loud echo through the store. The two of them jumped. Keiji’s mother shoved the bag further into Keiji’s arms.

“Promise me.” Keiji was standing now. His eyes moved back and forth between his mother and the door with the raving lunatics. He choked back a sob and nodded quickly, heading straight toward the back door leaving his mother behind.

His throat felt dry while running away from that store. The backpack on his back bounced up and down, and the friction of the moving bag warmed his back up a bit. He ended up finding another house on the way of that long stretch of road and hid there. 

As Keiji stayed warm by a fire while eating a can of cold food, tears rolled down his cheeks. He curled up in a blanket he found while raiding the house and had his back to a wall. The one person he could ever trust in the whole world was gone that easily. It made him realize how fragile life really was and how that, at all cost, it needed to be protected.

 

Even though that event was still fresh in his mind--the look in his mother’s eyes never left him for a second, it wasn't something that had happened a few weeks ago. That was years ago. Three years ago. Keiji had been 16 when he had to let his mother go. Through those three years, Keiji had never broken the three promises he made to his mother. Keiji got out of that town, Keiji stayed as safe as he could, Keiji didn’t trust anybody. Actually, he was pretty sure he forgot how to speak. 

Normally, you would probably forget how to speak if you hadn’t for three years. However, Keiji knew he needed to keep his sanity, so he would sing from time to time. It wasn’t just to keep him from going insane, but it also helped him so he knew he hadn’t lost his voice, memories, or knowledge of the English language. 

 

Actually, in present time, that’s exactly what Keiji was doing. He sang to himself some tune, and he couldn’t remember, but he was pretty sure it was the last thing he heard on the radio, but hell, that was five years ago. How in the world would he remember?

Keiji was walking in a small town. There were houses lined up on the street, and at the end of the street, there was a small convenience store. Most likely, probably, most definitely, it was already raided, but Keiji was always able to find something. He really was a pro scavenger at this point.

As he entered the convenience store, the smell of rotting food hit him. Great, now he really wanted to get out of there, though, if there was something here, Keiji had to find it. At this point, he needed anything he could get. He began to carefully look around making sure to look in every crack and space where there could possibly be a supply of anything.

He walked around and opened an office door. Looking in, Keiji froze. In the room to the far wall was a man crouched over a body.

Eating him.

God, Keiji would never get used to seeing that, and he was glad, honestly. It made him know for sure he was still sane. 

Keiji’s hand moved to his belt where he had his weapon of choice hanging from it. A machete. He pulled it out with a sigh. The infected backed up to the wall as if he were scared, however, Keiji knew the look in the eyes by now. Even if there was a cure, this guy was far too gone to save.

“I’m sorry for this,” Keiji said. His voice was always quiet when he apologized which he did every time he would kill an infected--only if they weren’t attacking him. Keiji stepped forward to the man, machete straight out in front of him. He didn’t know what to say, but to be honest, he never really did. Keiji bit his lip while raising the blade then quickly swung it. Decapitation was always a permanent solution. 

As Keiji was about to kneel down next to the guy, something knocked him to his feet. Keiji was knocked on his back, his machete tossed to the side. As Keiji was hitting the ground, the feeling of a sharp pain stung heavily in his shoulder. A knife piercing straight through the flesh. Keiji opened his eyes and made eye contact with the infected that was now straddling him. He gritted his teeth, his head hitting the hard floor as he hit the ground. As it attacked him, Keiji grabbed his wrists to hold him back as it moved to claw at his throat.

‘Please don’t bite me, please don’t bite me, please don’t bite me--’ 

And the machete swung, but it wasn’t Keiji’s machete. The head of the infected thankfully fell off to the side and rolled away, and Keiji pushed the body off. Quickly, he scampered up to his feet and backed up to the wall, eyes looking to whoever killed the infected that attacked him. Keiji was quick to grab another knife from his belt--a second weapon he was unable to grab while getting attacked.

“Woah, woah! I just saved you, man! What’s with the hostility?” The man asked while holding up his hands, a bloodied, rusty ax in one hand. Keiji didn’t say anything. He still held up the knife in protection. He’s been in a situation where an infected saved him from another and then attacked him right after. They’re ruthless, and some aren’t too far gone where they can still act to be human to trick you. “I’m not--” The man paused and looked at the headless body on the ground. A pool of blood started to form around it. “One of those.”

“Bokuto! Is everything alright in there?! You gotta learn to stop talking to your--” Another guy walked in the doorway, but he stopped when he met eyes with Keiji, “--self. Hello.” The guy leaned toward Keiji’s ‘hero’. “Yo, is he--” The man slowly lowered his ax.

“I dunno,” he shrugged. “He’s not talking. You think he can hear us?”

“Like a deaf--”

“I can hear you,” Keiji finally said, and his voice was a little rough since he hadn't talked this loudly in years. These people really had the guts to just stand right in front of Keiji and talk about him.

“Oh, sweet. Why not uh--” the guy turned his head and pointed to Keiji’s knife, “put that down please?” Keiji’s eyes looked between the two. The one who saved him had this crazy-ass hair. It was spiked up like two horns, and the roots of his hair were black while the rest of it was white. He was pretty tall--definitely taller than Keiji. Though, the tallest one there, by maybe an inch, was the other friend who had walked in on them. His black hair was straight up, however, bangs covered over his eyes on the right side of his face.

“No.”

“What can we do to get you to put that down?” Keiji thought for a moment. His eyes kept looking around the room. He was honestly thinking if there was any way he could grab something, push the two of them down and run. Keiji didn’t kill people, he killed infected, and out of his five years with dealing with these things, he could tell these two weren’t one of them. “That! Your shoulder! It’s bleeding.” Keiji’s eyes glanced over at his shoulder then quickly back at the other two. The knife the infected had stabbed him with was tossed to the ground with Keiji’s blood on it. His own wound was just dripping, the blood running down his arm and soaking into his shirt as it went.

Keiji shrugged.

“Damn, you’re tough.” The guy in the doorway mumbled.

“Let me patch you up!”

“What?” Keiji asked. “No. How about you let me leave and you make it out alive for however much longer you last?”

“Come on! I only want to help!” There was this smile on the guy’s face as he raised his eyebrows high. A gleam in his eyes that Keiji hadn’t seen in years. There was--Shit, was that hope? Hope? Really? After five years of this and this guy really was this hopeful.

Keiji had run out of medical equipment a while back. He went out for a trip from his base to get more stuff, and he didn’t exactly pack everything he needed. Shit, Keiji didn’t expect to get hurt so much during a simple week-long milk run.

With a sigh, Keiji lowered his knife back into the sleeve on his belt. “You have ten minutes.”

“That’s all the time I need! Promise!”

 

Keiji sat on the counter in the convenience store next to the broken, tipped-over register. The guy was right next to him, his tongue sticking out as he used a needle and thread to connect back the torn flesh of Keiji’s wound. 

His name was Koutarou Bokuto, twenty years old. He grew up in this town, and apparently, he had come back to see if there was anyone here. Yes, he was checking his hometown after five years. According to him, this day was special to his town. It was a day that everyone gathered and celebrated the birth of the town. He said that if anyone were to come back, it would be today.

Meanwhile, his friend was Tetsurou Kuroo, twenty years old as well. They knew each other when they were kids, but Tetsurou ended up moving away, however, the two stayed in contact through elementary, middle, and high school. So, when this shit started happening, Tetsurou went off to meet up with Koutarou while the phones were still working. 

Keiji felt the quick prick of pain every time Koutarou would stab through his skin, and each time, Keiji would bite his lip and look off at the ground. He hated looking into Koutarou’s eyes. What were they so damn bright and happy and cheerful and hopeful and positive for? 

“I’m almost done, Akaashi.”

“Three minutes.”

“Okay, okay!” Koutarou said quickly. He picked up a knife and cut the string. “Let me clean it or it’ll get infected.” Keiji just nodded, and with that, Koutarou was quick to grab a towel and bottled water. He poured some water on the towel and wiped it down the side of Keiji’s bare arm. Keiji let out a wince in pain and bit his tongue. “Sorry,” Koutarou mumbled. He lifted Keiji’s arm a little, and he was really careful about it. Lightly grabbing ahold of Keiji’s arm and slowly lifting it. His arm grabbed some bandages he pulled from his bag and wrapped it around his shoulder. 

“There!” Koutarou said while putting his hands up. “All done, Akaashi.”

“Thanks,” Keiji said as he jumped down from the counter. He tapped the tip of his shoe on the ground as his hand moved to touch his machete. After he made sure he had those, Keiji turned and grabbed his bag off the ground and slung that on his shoulder. “I’ll be leaving now.”

“Hey, hey, hey,” Koutarou grabbed Keiji’s arm and stopped him from making his way out the door. “Well, uh don’t you think we should stick together?” Keiji shook his head. “Man, you’re so stubborn.”

“I don’t trust people, Bokuto. It’s not you, it’s me,” Keiji said. He slipped his grip from Koutarou and started to head out again. At the door, Keiji stopped before heading out. He turned his head and looked back at Koutarou. “Promise me you won’t get infected.” They finally locked eyes for the first time--if you didn't count the time Keiji was checking his eyes to see if he had that infected look in them. “I’m sick of seeing good people turned bad.”

“Of course, ‘Kaashi! You too.” Keiji nodded and finally left the convenience store leaving the only shred of life he knew of in years behind.