And that's how I ended up here. We just had to be curious, had to find out what
was going on. And no, I'm not whining. See how happy you are when you just a few
moments - at best - from death, more rotting zombies than even Treeboy can count
(makes me glad for mortal vision, because if there are more beyond the thirty or so
I spotted earlier, I don't want to see them) all trying to get in here for a snack,
and oh yeah, stuck in here with Treeboy, of all people! My night just keeps getting
better and better.
I think the sight is going to be burned into my eyes for the rest of my life... however short that might be at this point. Another ten, twenty minutes? Half an hour, if I'm really lucky? I'm not sure if that implies good luck or bad. If it's good, then given how my life tends to go the exact opposite, we're screwed and they'll tear their way in here any minute; but if it's bad, then we may have a few minutes' breathing room to formulate something like an escape plan. Well, a few minutes' breathing room for the one of us who breathes.
//You will call me.// It sounds so damn certain that I can almost resist it. It makes resisting it a little easier, anyway. //Call my name. Summon my power, and I will destroy all that stands against you.//
I thump the back of my head against the door I'm pressed against, trying my best to block it out while I'm still breathing and can. I can't hit it as hard as I'd like, hard enough to knock me out: for one, I stand a pretty good chance of being eaten alive if I'm unconscious; for a second point, there's no guarantee that would help; thirdly, Treeboy might eat me if I'm not helping with this door; and finally, the wood would probably splinter if I hit my head any harder. It wasn't exactly sturdy even before the legions of the undead... dead... how does one describe zombies anyway? Or would they be ghouls? Not that I'm going to stop and ask, of course.
For that matter, what were the odds that Treeboy would get called out to the one cemetery in Domino with enough people in the ground for someone to attempt a half-decent -- okay, very decent and completely effective -- zombie raising. I may not be able to raise a zombie myself, but I've read up on it, mostly so I could answer any and all the questions Treeboy and the other Kaibas kept pestering me with, and I've been working on a theory on what we're doing stuck with this many (and I'm not asking how many) zombies.
If anyone ever gets a chance to investigate this, if there's anyone left in Domino after this (and I'm not being frantic or anything -- it's just that there are so many of them!), they're going to find someone made a heavy-duty sacrifice to make this cemetery sit up. Someone planned this out to the exact detail: they knew how to get Treeboy here, they knew what to say to get me here as well, and they knew what to do to raise an entire cemetery.
//Call me, and I will change it.//
"Doesn't work like that." Holy fuck, now I'm talking back to it out loud. Now there's a sign of insanity. I've stepped over the deep end. With the look Treeboy's giving me, though, either he thinks it wasn't a far jump to begin with or he knows what's happening. Why the hell did I tell him anyway? Not my brightest move.
"It's talking to you?" And how the hell does he sound so cool and collected? I mean, Halloween was bad enough, but this is about a million times worse, and he sounds like this is no more troubling than a misfiled paper. Hell, maybe less so. I've seen some major Treeboy wigging from things being out of place. Hence is why I have a little fun rearranging during the day sometimes. Keeps him on his toes.
"Nah, they're singing the latest pop hits out there. Yes, it's talking to me!" Never said I'm graceful under pressure... or nice when I'm in pain. In fact, I think I've made a point of telling it like it is: that I'm a little bastard when I'm stressed or hurting, and I'm both right now.
Wood from the wall near me splinters in time to the demand. Tiny slivers hit me like miniature daggers of pain. On their own, they probably wouldn't even really sting, but with the headache I'm rapidly developing, the wrenched muscles from running to get the hell away from those things outside, the bruises from diving in what I'm guessing is a gardener's shed, the black eye and swollen cheek Yami gave me, and the cuts I'm still finding where sharp, dead fingernails managed to score on me, it's all adding up to be a world of hurt.
Heads are going to roll.
I swear to God, I'm going to find responsible parties -- or even people who look vaguely responsible -- and rip them limb from limb. Whoops, bad analogy, given my current situation.
You know, it wasn't too many nights ago that Yami, the brat, Mini-Me, and I were on a couch, laughing uncontrollably at a bootleg horror movie with characters caught in a situation very much like what I find myself in. And, somehow, the only thing that keeps circling through my mind is, oddly enough, I didn't think it would smell like this. Weird. I'm probably not too far from being torn limb from limb myself, and I'm more concerned about how the things about to kill me smell.
"Somehow this is all your fault."
I hold back a growl but only barely -- and badly. "I hate you. This is not my fault. You were the one who got the invitation. I just tagged along to be nice."
"You don't know what that word means, Bakura."
"Like you do?"
Is this really how I'm going to die? Snarking it out with Treeboy? I guess I'd been hoping for maybe something a little less... typical for how my life tends to be. Maybe even with Yami...
I'm not thinking of Yami. I'm pissed at Yami. Being pissed might get me through this. It's a little hard to concentrate, but just out of habit, I reach again for a ghost, any ghost, anything close enough to be of some help. Because of course, the cell phones don't work. Not a single bit of reception out here, and even if there was, this doesn't strike me as something we can get the wolves to come save our asses from. Magnum can come rolling in and kick all the ass he wants, but I don't see where it would be a huge help.
And damn it, I can't think how to kill ghouls. Or zombies. Well, zombies, if we could get a pretty powerful animator, we might be able to put them back in their graves, even with the sacrifice that woke them up, but these things, they seem to be people-hungry. And we don't have an animator anyway, not on staff, not on call, and the only wizard I can think of who might know how to help...
Again, my best glare rolls right off him. For now I'm going to attribute that to the fact a lot of his concentration is going into keeping the door closed to our uninvited guests outside, because I know I'm not the one with preternatural strength working wonders on it. I am doing my part, though, sitting on the dirt-packed floor and bracing my entire weight against it.
With a growl that's a little hard to hear over all the other, more impressive ones from outside, I answer, "Not on how to stop them, but I know how they're awake."
He turns so that his back is to the door as well (Surely, there's a 'Kaibas are better than and above everyone else' metaphor here that I'm just missing) and calmly continues, "It couldn't hurt to know."
I will not rabbit punch him in the leg. I will not. I have much better restraint than that. Flip him off, on the other hand... "You saw what happened just before we got here."
He nods. "Mahaado." One word saying a million things, perfect description of a Kaiba.
"They sacrificed him -- and I guess all those other people we picked up on -- to raise them. Using a wizard's blood... I guess they either got ghouls or flesh-eating zombies."
"Not a lot, unless you're an animator." Or unless you're going outside to check. I'm not. In fact, at the moment, I'm very fond of this little shed, for as long as it holds up. Another five to fifteen, at best -- and when I say 'at best', I do mean at the very best, the most generous amount of time that I possibly can give these walls. The Ice Prince here probably isn't even giving them that long. "Fact is," I pause to rebrace myself, since the door's starting to give, "I know raising an animator as a zombie makes ghouls. I have no idea what using a wizard as the 'white goat' would do. This, I guess."
"'White goat'?" Haha, Kaiba Frown Number Three: confused and not happy to be. Check another point in the Bakura column. One more small victory for me, again. "Tell me there's something lost in the translation, or you're not pronouncing it right, or it's a euphemism, or something."
"It's a euphemism," I answer with an eyeroll. Really, just sometimes he gets on my nerves bad enough to consider breaking in a new Master of the City. But only sometimes, because who knows who we might get next. Maybe Noa, and that'd be terrifying. "It means human sacrifice. Someone used his death, and all those other deaths, to raise these guys."
"What kills zombies?" And wow, he doesn't know. He really doesn't know. There is something Treeboy doesn't know. Amazing.
"Not a lot. Fire. They don't like being out in the sunlight. Sounds like someone else we know, doesn't it? It doesn't kill them though, unlike someone we know."
"Now is not the best time for sarcasm, Bakura--"
"It's always the best time for sarcasm, Treeboy."
"--not when we're running quickly out of options, and my gods, don't you come with an off switch?!"
So... do I get double points for making him lose his cool in the face of imminent death? "What were you just saying about sarcasm?"
//Say it, now.//
"Fuck!" I'm not crying. My eyes may be watering from the pain (one head isn't supposed to have to contain a voice like that) and I may be almost ready to beg Treeboy for a whammy so I can at least semi-block it out, but I am most certainly not crying. I don't cry, never have. And it's only this... thing in my head that ever makes me feel like it.
//Say it and this will end.//
"Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck!" Great, I'm repeating myself. And I didn't notice it till now, but apparently, my head is keeping a beat with my mouth, because I'm banging it on the door in time to the words. Come on, unconsciousness. I don't even care if I get eaten, though I will be hoping for Treeboy to eat me and not those things outside; he'll probably make it hurt less. I'm not seriously considering this, am I? "Get out of my head!"
A hand clamps down on my shoulder. For half a second, I think they've managed to get through the door at last, before it sinks in that, while it's cooler than a human's would be, even through my shirt, it's not grave cold. In fact, it's vampire cold. Have they ever figured out the relative temperature difference between vampires and humans? Why am I wondering about this now?!
I let my eyes follow it up an arm, and wow, it's attached to Treeboy. I'll be damned. Go figure. Now isn't that just a tad on the odd side? Okay, forget 'a tad'; this is extremely strange. What? Does imminent dismemberment make him actually sentimental or something? Doesn't do a thing for me, except piss me off. I rather like all my limbs exactly where they are, with no new holes or additional injuries on them.
Okay, weirdly, I can concentrate a little better now. Just a little. The voice has retreated somewhat, and all I can figure is that's thanks to the first mark. So that adds another choice for making the voice retreat, in addition to, one, Yami and two, me knocking myself unconscious. If we live through this, it means I have options. Not that hanging out with Treeboy is always an appealing one, but sometimes, like now, when Yami and I are fighting... It starts looking a bit better. I wonder what that says about Yami's and my relationship, such that it is.
Still, he's not going to be able to hold this for long, not with those things trying so hard to get in. Not to say I don't appreciate the effort, but I'd rather live another two minutes, even if I'm being driven out of my head. And frankly, I'm not used to altruism, if that's what one could call this, and I never would have pictured it coming from the Ice Prince of all people. Furthermore, it makes me nervous; what exactly is he up to? If this is more of that 'I have a mark on you so I get a say in your life' bullshit, I'm staking him, plain and simple. One mark isn't enough to take me down with him, is it? I can still kill him without suiciding myself, right? Might still have to do it either way.
Either way, it deserves something. "Thanks," I say shortly. Because the brat has succeeded a bit on driving some manners into me. Why am I always practicing them on the Ice Prince, I wonder?
He nods once in return, and that's that on the subject. "We're running short on time." I half-glance at his arm and try to read his watch upside-down, with little luck. "It'll be dawn in an hour, and it doesn't appear as though they've left the structure enough intact for me to stay here during the day."
Not a word about how they're going to get in here any minute. That's refreshing. Not that I'm going to quit worrying about--
A voice outside screams something very much like "Get them", and the door lurches forward. Despite every bit of my body weight, such that it is, being pressed hard against the door, I feel myself slide a few inches. The Ice Prince lets go of me to offer up a bit more of his own strength, and it slams back into place. Not that it matters too much: they'll be through the walls soon enough. They're making a new door on the wall a few feet to my right on the opposite wall. They get through that last bit of wood, and the fat lady will be striking up an aria, prima donna that she is.
Right beside me, the wood completely shatters in a fist-sized hole, and the smell quadruples. And if that's not bad enough, the hand that comes through grabs a chunk of my hair, and it apparently decides to pull me through its tiny hole by the hair, rather than wait to get in the regular way. Fuck! And I cut it after Halloween, from the small of my back up to above my shoulders. I guess that wasn't enough. I reach behind me and grab the fingers holding me in place -- and do my best to keep my stomach from rolling as they snap beneath mine. Human fingers shouldn't break that easily. Ugh, I hate zombies. I really, really do.
I jump back up to my feet the second I'm free and put my weight back on the door. Blue eyes glance at me. It's only through living with various Kaibas for two years that I recognize that faint expression of worry hiding well behind them. Great, the Ice Prince is worried; we're doomed. We are so fucking doomed. Focus on something else, Bakura. "Sounds like a woman out there bossing them around," I note absentmindedly. "Did we forget to leave someone a tip sometime?"
Even with both of us putting our full weight on it, the door tries to move again. "Bit of an extreme reaction for that, don't you think?" Was that...? I think that was a bad attempt at humor from the Ice Prince. Amazing. Will the wonders never cease?
"I don't know. There was this one time, back in Tokyo, when some guy stiffed me for something I stole for him, and I--"
My head explodes. That's how it feels at least. I'm actually a little surprised not to see brain bits on Kaiba. I might have even screamed, but I'm not sure. A cold hand latches on to my forearm, right over where I got bitten last year. Vampire cold again, not dead cold. Doesn't make any difference. This time I know I scream, and even though it's Kaiba and I know he's trying to work the mark between us, nothing happens, and that thing's screaming in what remains of my head. I'm screaming back, and Kaiba -- Treeboy -- the Ice Prince is yelling at me as well. None of it's making any sense through the pain, but I think I know one word coming from somewhere -- nowhere -- everywhere: "Zork".
It's only when I feel what can only be spirits start to pass through me, familiar ones -- there goes Kaiba, and Mokuba, and the other vampires, Ryou, the leopards, Jounouchi, Yuugi... Yami -- belonging to people who aren't dead, not in the strictest sense of the word, and the world begins to spin into blackness, that I realize one very important thing.
I'm the one who said it.
15 June 2007
So sorry for how long this has taken, but I think it's worth it for how well it turned out. To be completely honest, I was going to just drop the series when I decided to quit writing YGO... but I couldn't do it. I love it too much. However, this does mean that Season Two will be coming up sooner than anticipated and previously announced. Route 666 will probably end up being a one-shot, instead of a series, and the stories that come after it will be condensed a bit as well.
All that's left on Automatic Paranoia, though, is the fallout... I mean, the epilogue.
And remember: your reviews are what convinced me not to leave this lying. They've kept this story and this series going, when all my other YGO has stopped. If you want it to keep going, keep sharing the feedback. Believe me: it does help.