Chapter 4:

A Threat

The Time Capsule - Part 1

  I swiftly gathered plenty of dry wood, small and larger fallen branches, some dry leaves, a bit of semi-decayed paper from the toilets and a few paper remains from what used to a be a newspaper that I found in a room inhabited by a human skeleton. For a moment I thought about siphoning some petrol from some cars that were parked close; I already had a collectible Zippo lighter, which was a gift from a far uncle of mine from USA, though it was completely dry, but then I realized all the petrol ('gasoline' if you prefer the US variant) would have long evaporated by now. 

  The diesel fuel of trucks and lorries might have survived (not intact, at best it would be semi-spoiled), but diesel is not as flammable; it does not ignite with the sparks of Zippo's flint, unlike petrol and natural gas. I took a mental note to collect some diesel at a later time. Even if it was no longer suitable to run an engine it might be still viable as a heating fuel.

  Since I lacked gas my Zippo's sparks would be useless to ignite the shreds of paper and the dry leaves, so I needed to do it the old (pre-stone age old..)-fashioned  way. I found a straight stick of thin cylindrical wood that looked suitable as a 'guide' and a flatter wood that I was going to use as a 'base', slowly adding my driest leaves and some paper to it. After some persistent 'drilling' of the cylindrical wood on the flat one, depending on how dry the woods and leaves were and the humidity of the air, the starting smoke should begin emerging and then, with a bit of air... "Let there be fire!" 

  It sounds simple but it took me ~2 hours to master it back in the day, and at the time I used pine cones as a starter, which are quite flammable. Hideo-sensei -who unfortunately also passed from the pollen- was a very patient man, but after an hour or so of observing me even he started losing patience with me. Eventually I managed to do it, but my sensei had me replicate it two more times "to make sure it was not beginner's lack", as he said with a hint of humor. He was a very honorable man of high integrity, I miss him dearly. He could be funny too when in the right mood... usually after quite a bit of good sake.

  In less than 10 minutes after splitting from Fumiko-chan I was at the cafe-restaurant of the dormitory setting up the fire. Fumiko-chan was already there, waiting with crossed hands.

  "You are late", she complained. "They do not sell these things at the market you know, I had to collect them one by one. And they need to be dry", I countered. 

  "Anyway, get on with it, I'm hungry. Sex always makes me hungry as you well know", she said with a playful wink and a half of pirouette-like turn of her body.

  So I got on with it. The cafe was dustier but airier than the rooms. I tried turning on the gas of the stove in case by some miracle some natural gas had survived. No such lack of course. The main natural gas supply was naturally dead, and even two spare butane bottles that I found were completely empty. The primitive way then..

  I employed everything Hideo-sensei taught me and the fire was on in about 5 minutes, quite quicker than I expected.

  "Finally!", Fumiko-chan exclaimed, "I am famished! Now let's prepare the water and see if these dried chilly and noodle cups are still worth their salt". She opened one of them and smelled it.

  "It smells a bit stale-ish but I see no mold or anything. It also looks like it was kept dry somehow", she opened two more, "the same with them. So I guess dried food lasts very long, as long as it's dry, doesn't it?"

  The fire was now strong and stable, and I poured a liter of water into a kettle (after spending some of it to rinse away the dust), carefully placed a grill above the fire and started boiling the water on top of it. 

  "Hey, let's gossip a little bit", she looked like she was going to say something mischievous. "When I entered my room to get my stuff it looked like Akira-senpai's tongue had reached all the way into Yuki-chan's tonsils. He was also feeling her.. er.. 'not insignificant' titties with his hand. Do you think he was trying to measure her bra size?", she laughed.

  "That horny old dog.. Do you think it's OK to take advantage of a girl in a vulnerable state? No wait, he doesn't know about it right? I mean, unless Yuki-chan herself told him he is unaware that she was almost raped last night. As for their age difference, well it's 5 years. He's a little bit old for her but who are we to judge?", I said while gently airing the fire with a bento tray.

  "I strongly doubt Yuki-chan told him about it. This is not something girls normally say to their prospective boyfriends. You know, they don't want to look like victims. In time, when she feels she can trust him, she will tell him herself. So we should keep our mouths shut for now, not a word about it to Akira-senpai", Fumiko-chan said in her serious mode. 

  The water started to boil, so I took some with a ladle and poured it into a noodles, beef & chili paper cup. We waited for a couple of minutes, stirred it a bit with a pair of chopsticks and then Fumiko-chan had me taste it first - naturally. It tasted only a little bit stale, much less stale than I expected. It was clearly quite more edible than the tin cans. After tasting a little bit more to make sure, I nodded and made a thumb up gesture to Fumiko-chan. She took some hot water and poured it in another cup and left the first one for me to eat. 

  We both started eating when Haru-kun showed up. He looked like he had just woken up; he was attracted by the nice smell, he said. He had his own paper cups and chopsticks, so he just needed a little hot water. 

  "This is quite good", he said, "much better than I expected!". "Yes it is, Haru-kun. Thank the gods of dried food!", I said.

  "Eat. Both of you, it will get cold", Fumiko-chan scolded us. "Yes mom", I teased. 

  After a while our two love birds also showed up. Fumiko-chan somehow managed to invite them while they were making out it seemed; or their nose dragged them here. 

  "Hey guys, are you eating? Chili ha? It smells nice", Akira-kun said as he was tucking his light blue shirt inside his pants. Yuki-chan looked even shier than usual, as she was buttoning up her white shirt. 

  "You both look like you had quite a bit fun", I couldn't resist teasing them while winking. Akira-kun smiled and blushed only lightly but Yuki-chan blushed like a red beet, which she felt and turned around in shame! How adorable she is! I don't think I can blush anymore, not in public anyway (Fumiko-chan can still make me blush, but.. privately).

  "Leave the two love birds alone Asahi-senpai and finish your food. You will need the energy for.. later", Fumiko-chan was in part scolding part teasing mode. 

  "Yes mommy, I'm almost done!", I said as I sipped the last bits of the soup. It turned out that I did need the energy for later, but not for the reason Fumiko-chan implied. 

  After we finished our food and tidied up a bit we heard voices from outside. We went to the balcony to get a look, carefully, and we saw four older guys who did not look like they were students. Their ages were between 28 and 35 or so. 

  They looked like they were looking... for something. We took care not to be spotted, but suddenly one of them looked up, straight at us. "Crap!", I uttered slowly.

  The guy who spotted us, who looked like he was the oldest of the bunch, whispered something to the others and pointed toward our direction. We were already hidden but it was too late.

  "May I ask you something?" one of them shouted, "how many of you are up there?".
I hesitated for a few seconds then asked "Why do you want to know?"

  "To see if we can take you in battle aho. We are here to kill you boys and then take your sluts and have our fun with them. Why kill you? Because you are the competition; for the remaining resources I mean. As you surely know the food will soon start to dry up and we would prefer to survive, not starve to death right after surviving the Apocalypse. Your girls are just a bonus, and when we get bored with them we will kill them too and look for others".

  "I see", I said, "your words kind of make sense, in a... very twisted way. There is just one problem though. We do not intend to die for you to survive. And we are very fond and protective of our girls. We will not hurt you if you leave now, but if you come after us you will regret it".

  "Hurt us? You? Hahahahaha!! You are just students, kids. We are adults. And we have weapons too. Two knives, one katana and a freaking gun", the goon said as each of them showed their weapons. 

  "I strongly doubt gunpowder will still work after 74 years. Moisture oxidizes it you know. As for the knives and the katana they are not of particular concern", I said. 

  "You think you are a tough guy ha kozo ('boy', kind of)? And a smarty-pants on top of that!" he said as he pondered for a while the value of years I just mentioned,

  "We were in the yakuza you know back in the day", he continued as he and two others showed their yakuza tattoos. They were indeed, that was no bluff, but they were all low level, not even lieutenants. "And the bullets still work!"

  "Really Yakuza-san?" I said with irony, "why don't you shoot that garbage bin over there then to prove to us that they still work? Come on, it's just one bullet. If the gun does fire we will surrender to you, no questions asked. I promise on my boy scouts honor". There was no way the bullets would still work; and no, I was never a boy scout.

  Yakuza-san looked slightly agitated. His body language and his facial expression gave out multiple hints that he was lying. 

  "You will have to take my word for it, little brat. I'd rather save that bullet to drill it right between your eyeballs. Bullets are scarce you know", yeah right, we believed you. 

  "Then we are not going to surrender. Either leave or come and get us, take your pick. I strongly suggest you leave though", I said sternly as I nodded and whispered to Akira-kun to take the girls quickly to the floors above and lock themselves in an empty room. We were going to make sure with Haru-kun none of them got past us. 

  I whispered to Haru-kun, "If they come up here I will handle the talkative gun guy and the katana guy. Can you handle the two others? Are you good at disarming two men with knives?" 

  "I've been doing this with ease since I got my 2nd dan Asahi-senpai. It was part of our basic training. I can now handle up to three low or mid-skilled men with knives. These guys do not look like much of a threat. They are moving around like self-assured punks and their breathing is so loud I can hear it up to here. If they were indeed Yakuza then the mafia had pretty low standards", Haru-kun said almost with disdain. 

  "They were, their tattoos are real. But they used to be low level goons, not officers. Anyway, be careful OK?", Haru-kun nodded.

  The four goons were still debating whether to come after us. Based on their body tells it looked like the gun guy and the katana guy were in, but the other two looked worried, if not a little scared. The gun guy was clearly the boss though, and the senior of the bunch, so he prevailed. All four of them headed for the west stairs and started climbing fast. 

  I gripped my bokken tightly while Haru-kun started calmly warming and stretching his hands (Aikido is a weapon-less purely defensive martial art). The katana guy did not wield his sword well, he just waved it around like an amateur. The gun guy had ditched his gun and pulled out a knife as well; I sighed in relief since the 1 in a million chance he somehow had working bullets was just eliminated.

  When they arrived I drew toward me the katana and (former) gun guy and Haru-kun waited for the other two, who started laughing when they saw him.

  "Wait, are we to fight that kid?", they said, "Hahaha, you are surely joking right? Where is that older and taller guy?"

  "That is not your concern. We will look for him later, he is probably keeping the girls safe somewhere", said their boss as he moved around his knife in a threatening way toward me. "Just take out that brat now!". 

  "Whatever you say bosu. I just didn't know we were killing kids too now", said knife guy No3. "Kids eat as well you know", the boss replied. 

  Haru-kun had not moved from his spot. He waited with his hands behind his back but did not take his eyes of his marks. That's a high level Aikidoka alright..

  The 35-ish boss then nodded to the katana guy and they attacked me both at once. I easily blocked the katana and made the boss lose his knife by hitting his knuckles hard.

  "Itaiiii!! ('it hurts') You little shit! I will make you suffer for this!", he said.
"By all means, make me", I taunted him. I think I must have broken a couple of his fingers; I later found out I broke two.

  The marks of Haru-kun were still hesitant to attack him, but the katana guy gave it another try. I think he tried to... slice my bokken in half, but of course it didn't work. He just gave some 'flesh wounds' to it. At one point he attacked me with the back of the katana instead of the sharp edge. He was indeed a complete amateur. 

  Knife guys No3 & No4 finally 'attacked' Haru-kun. Well, that was a sight to behold.. He threw both their knives to the ground floor in a couple of seconds and had incapacitated both of them in five seconds tops. They didn't even have time to cry from pain due to how fast they fell unconscious. 

  "What are you little brats? How can a teenage boy take out two of my men with such an ease and speed?", bosu asked. "We are just fairly trained in martial arts Yakuza-san. I warned you not to mess with us but you didn't listen".

  "If only the bullets worked I would have killed these two brats right away", the boss muttered almost inaudibly. 

  "So... Shall we continue?", I asked them. Haru-kun was waiting aside for me to take care of my marks as well. Of course he knew well not to interfere with my prey. I could have already incapacitated them both as well but I wanted to make them suffer a bit. Haru-kun was either more merciful or just... less patient; I suspect it was the latter. 

  The two older guys nodded and gave it another shot. I was beginning to lose patience as well, so I kind of shattered the right hand of the katana guy to make him lose his sword (he did) and then struck 'bosu' in the head hard enough to leave him unconscious for at least 4 or 5 hours. I then hit the katana guy on the back of his head as well, and they both dropped flat on the floor, face down. 

  "What do you want us to do with them Asahi-senpai? Are we going to kill them?", Haru-kun asked casually; perhaps too casually. 

  "What?! No! No, because we are not killers like them. However I want to put the fear of god in all four of them to teach them a very good lesson so that they don't try this again. For the moment we need to tie them up, but with what?", I said.

  "I have a set of extra clothes", Haru-kun replied, "I will create some makeshift ropes with them and later on go to a clothes store nearby to replace them". 

  "Fine, you do that, I am going to look for Akira-kun and the girls above. No wait, go get the clothes first and I'll wait here in case they wake up prematurely, then I'll go", Haru-kun nodded as he headed for Fumiko-chan's room. He was back in a couple of minutes and had already shredded half the clothes along the way. 

  "You can handle this on your own right? I need to go find the others who must be worried sick by now", I said to Haru-kun while thinking how utterly crazy it was to leave a 16-year old kid securing four Yakuza goons on his own. Then I recalled his super fast but 'graceful' moves around the two goons and my mind was put at ease. 

  "Do not worry Asahi-senpai. I doubt they are going to wake up for at least a few hours but either way I am not taking my eyes off them. Go get the others", what a lovely and useful boy Akira-kun brought to us..

  "Fine, see you later Haru-kun!", I said and sped toward the third floor. I was expecting them to be at the top (fourth) floor, but started shouting their names when I reached the third floor.

  "Akira-kun! Fumiko-chan! Yuki-chan! Where are you?", I shouted but not too loudly for obvious reasons. No response. If they were in the third floor they would have heard me so they must be locked up somewhere at the fourth floor indeed. I climbed the stairs again and after calling them for a while one door opened. Fumiko-chan ran fast toward me and hugged me tight, while Akira-kun was holding an almost petrified Yuki-chan.

  "Daijobu? Are you hurt? What about Haru-kun?", I don't think I have ever seen Fumiko-chan so worried before. When she hugged me her heart felt like a machine gun firing at full speed.

  "We are both fine my love. We don't even have a scratch. All four goons are deeply unconscious and Haru-kun is tying them up as we speak." Fumiko-chan was about to say something but I blocked her. 

  "Before you say anything, after I saw how swiftly and professionally he handled two of the goons I knew full well that I could trust to leave him alone with them. That kid is both a martial arts and intellectual genius, truly", Fumiko-chan seemed reassured.

  We rejoined Haru-kun in a few minutes. He had already tied up all four goons. Naturally. They were all still deeply asleep and looked like they were going to be for quite a while.

In the next chapter, dear readers, I will explain how exactly we 'punished' those goons. I have no idea if this surprises you but most of the 'punishing' was done by the ladies! You heard that right. Believe it or not even Yuki-chan did her fair share of 'punishing' too!

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