Junji Kamihara quickly follows his father through the busy streets, looking up in awe at the tall skyscrapers and flying cars. At age 12, this kind of scenery still excited him. However, he is curious about something. He turns to his father.
“Father, why did you pull me out of school today?” he asks. His father smiles, though doesn’t turn to face Junji.
“Because, I want you to see my work. We believe we’ve made a breakthrough. And I want you to be there to see it” his father responds.
This doesn’t clear up anything for Junji. However, he knows better than to disagree with his father. Junji follows quietly.
Everything then begins to change.
The ground begins to shake as the people look around in worry. Suddenly, a large, black, liquid-like substance begins to fill the street.
“The Plague!” Junji’s father exclaims. While there is worry in his voice, Junji can tell his father knew what this thing was.
‘The Plague’ as it was so named, floods through the open square, swallowing people whole. Junji clings close to his father’s leg, holding on tight. His father breaks the grip by stepping forward and pointing to the tall building in front of them.
“Everyone! Into the skyscraper! Now! Now!”
For the first time since they left, Junji’s father looks directly at his son. There is no need to speak, Junji needs to run. Now.
Junji nods and begins following the crowd as they run for the skyscraper. The Plague continues to swallow countless who are falling behind. Junji looks behind him and sees his father pushing a large group forwards. A look of confusion and anger is on his face. A pregnant woman behind the rest of the group falls to her knees. Junji’s father notices this and turns around in an effort to save the woman. Junji also turns around to try and help but is pushed towards the building by the fleeing crowd. Junji’s father reaches the woman, and helps her up. He begins guiding her directly towards the skyscraper. Yet The Plague follows closely behind.
“Father! Watch out!” Junji yells. His father looks behind him and notices the arriving Plague. He pushes the woman away and holds his hands in front of him. Junji can’t do anything but look on in horror as his father is swallowed whole by the Plague.
However, whatever his father did seems to work as the Plague suddenly splits away from the skyscraper, sparing everyone else in the immediate area. Junji drops to his knees, tears forming in his eyes.
1 Week Later…
“The Plague appears to have come from the planet named Tappuri.” The news broadcaster reads the report aloud. Junji watches from his cot, the green fabric not comfortable. He looks around. The other children his age are all crying, with the caretakers unsure how to handle it.
Junji’s mother had died giving birth to him. And now his father is dead too. He was an orphan. In wake of The Plague’s attack, there were many more orphans and the system was becoming overloaded.
The news reporter continues.
“Several hundred bodies have been recovered from the Plague. However, with how deformed they are, it is unlikely we will ever be able to identify the people lost.”
Junji is lost on what to do next.
1 Month Later…
A broadcast goes live over the television. This is directly from the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister approaches the podium.
“The Plague has unleashed another attack, this time on the east coast of our great nation. So, with no more options, I am officially declaring war on The Plague and those from the planet Tappuri. And to increase our armed forces, I am opening up registration to anyone older than 12 years of age.” The confusion mixed with outrage coming from the media watching the presentation.
“I understand the concept of child soldiers may be tough for some to handle. However, our registration numbers are currently at an all time low. This is required for us to bring forward our strongest front. However, keep in mind, we won’t be sending any underaged soldiers to the battlefield unless we are 100% sure they are able to handle it. That will be all.”
As the prime minister leaves the stage, there seems to be a mixed reception. Some members of the media, loyalists, cheer for the decision. However, others boo at the idea of children being forced to fight in wars.
2 Months Later…
Junji, turned 13 the other day, sits down on the hard metal chair. Looking towards him are military people, judging if he will be a good fit.
One of the men leans forward and asks “Can you please state your name?”
“Junji Kamihara, sir!” Junji yells, raising his hand to his head.
“And why, at 13, do you want to join the military?”
“To protect the people of this land from The Plague, sir!”
The military personnel continue asking questions as Junji continues providing answers, quickly and strongly.
4 Years Later…
Nothing was an issue for Junji in the moment. He vaults himself over the barrier. Running forward, he falls down and crawls under the barbed wire. Reaching the wall, he grabs the rope and climbs up. Once he’s reached the top, he pulls himself over.
He reaches the end of the course, hitting the large button. People watch from behind glass, timing his run. As they look at the timer, their eyes widen.
“Is that...” one of the testers ask, unsure of if it’s correct.
“Yes, that’s the fastest time we’ve seen from anyone under the age of 21 in decades” another responds. All of them are utterly shocked.
Junji picks up a nearby plasma rifle and begins firing at the target in front of him.
1 Year Later…
Junji picks up a nearby plasma rifle and begins firing at the target in front of him. The Plague shooting towards him bursts into little specks. Since the Plague’s first attack, scientists have figured out a way to harm it. By shooting it with highly heated plasma, it shrinks and retracts. The final goal is to hopefully one day shrink it until it no longer exists. However, the Plague grows at an exponential rate. And Junji is worried that day will never come.
He continues to fire, ducking behind cover. He turns to a fellow soldier, Kazuharu Kogowa.
“Kazu, why are we here again?” Junji asks.
“Because our buddies in the lab are telling us something will happen at this point at midnight tonight. We are here to make sure whatever it is, the Plague doesn’t interfere” Kazuharu responds.
“Right, the mysterious scientists who don’t even know a faster way to get rid of The Plague than shooting it.”
Junji fires another shot from his plasma rifle at the coming Plague. However, his weapon turns a burning red. Junji quickly throws it towards the ground.
“Damn it! Overheated! I need a new weapon, now!” Junji yells. Kazuharu pulls an extra weapon from his holster and hands it to Junji.
“Take my laser pistol. Silent, invisible, and deadly. Only got three shots in it though, so be careful!”
Junji nods and turns around the corner. He fires a shot from the pistol. It hits head on with the plague. It creates a large impact, taking out a huge chunk of The Plague.
Junji’s captain then arrives.
“Kamihara! What the hell are you doing? Those laser pistols are only for last resort and not to be used by minors! You children shouldn’t be on the battlefield!” the captain yells.
“My weapon overheated! Kazu lent me his pistol!” Junji responds.
“You don’t talk back to a superior officer! Kogowa! Take back your weapon! Kamihara! Head back to base! You’ll be lucky if you’re dishonorably discharged!”
Junji angrily slams the pistol into Kazuharu’s hand and runs towards the base. He enters the room. No one appears to be around. He looks up at the clock. It’ll be midnight any second.
Junji wonders what the scientists see coming. And like Cinderella, whose world changed when the clock struck midnight, so will Junji’s.
He watches as the seconds count down.
The clock then strikes midnight.
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