Back in November 2018, I was nominated for a Real Neat Blog Award by A Winter’s Reverie. It was my first tag post so I decided to turn the questions into prompts for a short story all about the time I met Saeko Busujima!
I have put the full set of questions after the story so you can see how I managed to piece it together and where the inspiration comes from. If you want to, you can make a story out of anything and hopefully, this will show that. I had a lot of fun writing this piece of quasi-fanfiction. Enjoy!
Isekai of the Dead (Short Story)
I leaned back and rested my head on the couch cushion, staring at the ceiling. Damn it! How can it end like that? I looked down, peering beyond my nose at the ending sequence for the last ever episode of Highschool of the Dead. It didn’t seem to matter how many times I watched the anime or read the manga, there still wasn’t enough.
“This is bullshit!” I stood up and took a step towards the screen. “Show me more. I need to know how it ends.”
The image on the screen froze, a grainy line creeping across the horizontal. That’s odd. I took another step forward and then glanced back at the remote. It wasn’t there. Neither was my couch or the coffee table. I turned back to the frozen image to find it had expanded beyond the screen, wrapping around me.
“No way!” I turned again, taking in the sights and sounds of my surroundings. Tall garden walls lined the street. Darkness hung over every house. The only light in the entire street was from the moon, glistening on the wet pavement.
A dank smell rushed along the narrow street as the wind whipped through the neighbourhood. I covered my face and turned. Nothing moved. Not at first anyhow. A deep guttural groan pierced the deathly silence. Then another and another.
I stepped back as a wall of shambling silhouettes emerged from a side street. More and more followed behind them. All turning to face me. Eyes glazed. Mouths gaping.
“Could this be real?” I grabbed a clump of hairs on my arm and twisted, growling as they pulled free. It wasn’t a dream. That was for sure.
The silhouettes shuffled forward, bumping against one another. One tripped and stumbled. The others moved on, trampling it into the pavement. Teeth glistened in the moonlight as they drew closer, the stench of death becoming more potent with every step.
What was I going to do? Somehow, I appeared to be in the anime. Could I get back home? The zombies staggered toward me. Guess this isn’t the time to get into it. I turned to run, but something made me stop. I chuckled to myself as a sly smile appeared on my face. I had spotted an abandoned shovel.
If I really was in the middle of a zombie apocalypse, I should at least make the most of it. Seriously, this was what I had been waiting for. I grabbed the shovel and swung it through the air, testing its weight. This will do nicely. I rolled my shoulder and moved into the middle of the street.
The first zombie dropped to the ground, but the attack did nothing to deter the others. I stepped into the next hit, slamming my shovel into one zombie’s chest and knocking it back. Four or five toppled over, but instantly rolled towards me, dragging themselves on.
My smile widened as I brought the shovel down hard, turning one zombie’s head to mush. I know this shouldn’t be this much fun, but it is an anime. Hang on. Does that mean I’m an anime character too now?
I leaned over a puddle and stared at my reflection. Dark spikey hair swayed in the breeze. I recognized my eyes, but they were different. “Shit yeah! I am an anime character.”
The zombies closed in around me, arms reaching, hands grasping, and teeth chomping. There were too many of them. As much fun as I was having, it would all be for nothing if they got a hold of me. I stepped back and let out a sigh. The rest of them would have to wait for another time.
I turned and ran. I had no idea where I was going, but I could work that out later. For now, I just needed to put some distance between us. The buildings rose up around me, getting taller as I moved away from the zombie horde.
A park appeared ahead, the road splitting and moving around the edge. I decided to stick to the road. The trees created too many shadows to navigate with confidence.
I skidded to a halt beside a wooden board, sitting beside a doorway, shards of glass littering the floor. Inside the cafe, a light flickered. Another survivor. I rested my shovel on my shoulder and climbed through the window, stepping over the broken glass.
A chair shifted, sliding across the tiled floor. I stopped and stared. Frozen with disbelief. It made sense, but at the same time, I couldn’t quite react appropriately.
“Are you just going to stand there and stare?” A pair of large blue eyes looked up at me. She gestured to the chair she had just slid away from the table. “You should probably sit.”
I nodded and dropped onto the chair. “Is it really you, Saeko?”
She nodded and then placed her katana on the table between us. “Would you like a drink?” She looked around and chuckled. “This is a coffee shop after all.”
“Uh!” My mouth hung open, but no words would come out. I took a deep breath. “No, uh, thanks. Do you mind if I ask you some questions?”
Saeko grinned. A hint of excitement in her eyes. “I assumed that was why you were here.” She swept back her purple hair, revealing a white apron and her bare shoulders.
I gulped. She’s wearing the apron! Was this really happening? I composed myself. “Why am I here?”
“You want to know how it ends, don’t you?” Saeko sat back folding her arms across her chest.
“Well, yes, but how?”
“That’s a different question altogether, and sadly I don’t know.” She glanced toward the broken window. “Anyhow, We don’t have much time.”
“All right.” I leant forward. “Let me just clarify, because my mind is having a hard time processing this. You are Saeko Busujima, right?”
She smiled. “Yes.”
“What have you been doing since the manga ended?” I had to stop myself from laughing. What an absurd question!
“Surviving.” She reached forward and grabbed her katana. “Question time is over. We have company.”
Broken glass crunched and cracked beneath the horde’s feet as they staggered into the coffee shop. I jumped up grabbing my shovel, swinging it at the nearest one. Its head spun independently from its body.
Saeko rushed past me slashing a zombie in two. She glanced back at me, mischief and joy plastering her face. I followed slamming my shovel into zombie after zombie.
We burst through the horde and raced across the street. Fog gathered beneath the trees, making it hard to see where we were going.
Saeko grabbed my hand. “This way. Follow me.”
We weaved between the trees and past a large fountain. A set of stone stairs led us to another street, high above the park.
“That was fun.” Saeko turned to me and smiled. “Do you want to stick around? We could use an extra set of hands.” She straightened down her white apron and then stared along the street.
Before I could answer, a zombie burst out from a side alley and charged into Saeko, knocking her to the floor. She rolled onto her back, holding her katana between her and its chomping mouth.
I charged in, holding my shovel low to the ground as I ran. I swung hard. It struck the side of the zombie’s head and sent it flying across the street, arms and legs flailing as it rolled across the pavement. I stepped between it and Saeko, waiting for a second attack.
It rolled over and climbed to its feet. I lowered my shovel again and charged. It lumbered towards us. The blade swept above the ground, whipping the zombie’s feet out from beneath it. Before it could hit the ground, I had leapt into the air, spinning the shovel overhead. The blade came crashing down as I landed.
The zombie’s head rolled away. Its body, still and lifeless.
“Thank you. You saved me.” Saeko wrapped her arms around me, squeezing me from behind. “That was quite the move. Does it have a name?”
I stared at the decapitated zombie, and then my shovel. “Yeah.” I chuckled to myself before glancing over my shoulder at Saeko. “Can you dig it?”
And there you have it. I hope you enjoyed this moment of madness and as I promised, these are the questions from A Winter’s Reverie that inspired this story. Maybe, it’ll all make sense now…
- If you could Blue-Skidoo into your television or monitor, what show would you choose and why?
- Once inside your show, what would you do?
- If you could meet one fictional character for a date at a coffee shop, who would you choose?
- What are some of the questions you would ask?
- You have been placed in a fighting game and you’re about to do your signature move. What is the name of your move and what do you do?
- Your opponent’s life bar just depleted and you won your match. What is your winning phrase?
- Can you dig it?
Thanks for reading. See you next time.
Other posts in the series
- Introduction – A Killer Opening!
- Season One
- Fan Fiction