Alex here. I’m currently sitting on a couch in Taro’s brothers house. They have well water rather than city water, which means… we can take showers and flush toilets and do all of the amazing things we took for granted every day. They even have food, though some of it had gone bad. Everything seemed wonderful with the exception of one fairly serious detail: They’re all dead.
We were all exhausted and uncomfortable in the tiny Japanese car by the time Taro told us that we were close. That perked us up. With our long drive coming to an end, Risa and her mother began finally smiling and giggling for the first time in… well… since I’ve met them. Even Taro, ever vigilant, seemed to be relaxing a bit. The winding road to their family compound was set off from the main road, meaning our risk of running into infected had dropped significantly. After watching the house from a distance for almost an hour, we finally decided it was safe to approach. We went past one of the cars that was parked out front, and up to the gate. Dark stains covered it, with smears and hand prints abound. The giggling stopped. Taro tensed up again and I subconsciously began to hold my breath. Charlie looked ahead with disappointment rather than shock.

Taro told his wife and daughter to stay in the car with the engine running. If any infected were to approach the vehicle, they were to drive back down to the fisherman’s house and wait for him. I got out with him, with Charlie behind me. I grabbed my bat. Taro grabbed the tire iron we’d found in the trunk while loading our bags. He walked up to the entrance and rapped the doors firmly with his weapon. The echoes subsided and left us in silence. No footsteps, no shrieks, no shouting… nothing. Taro turned to me briefly to make sure I was ready to enter. His eyes welled. Charlie stayed near the gate to guard the car and the two girls inside.

We stepped through the gates slowly and made our way up the path. The doors and windows all seemed to be closed. To the right was a smaller storage shed or garage. The doors were open, and it was then that we first heard our first sound. Lumber falling – the unmistakable, hollow sound of wood bouncing from being dropped. Taro increased his pace and made his way towards the entrance, leaving enough space to react should his fears be confirmed. He suddenly stopped and stared intensely. I joined him.

There he was: Taro’s brother. He was skinny, almost emaciated from lack of nutrition. Though he had his back to us and was rummaging around in a wood pile, his shaking was visible. He looked frail. Weak. As if he hadn’t eaten in days, perhaps longer. Taro called out to him. He slowly rose, his bones cracking. His head turned to meet us. His eyes were hollow and his face gaunt. His expression turned from vacant to desperate. He rasped something unintelligible. He didn’t scream or run at us to attack, causing Taro to put out his arm to hold me away as he approached slowly. His brother took a slow step forward and reached out with one arm, his hand shaking violently. Taro reached out and took his hand, the tears running down his face. He turned to me.

“He’s alive!” were Taro’s last words as his brother sank his teeth into his neck.

I was too slow to save him. The bite was deep and blood spurted out profusely. Shigeyuki ripped a chunk of flesh from his brother’s neck and Taro fell to the floor. My bat cracked over Shigeyuki’s head, but it was too late for Taro. He was already turning pale. Before I could think about it emotionally, I brought the bat down on Taro’s head, although in retrospect, the damage was probably done and it wasn’t necessary.

I turned towards the house with no clue as to how many remained. As it turned out, none of them remained. We found his parents’ bones and tattered remains in what Ayako would later confirm as their bedroom. His sister-in-law in pieces in the garden out back. The children….

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