Insects spread a virus creating a pandemic of vampires.
Like everyone else I need sleep. Sometimes I can get some on the Chuo train going to work. But not today. Today, I’m standing and looking into the gaping mouth of a snoozer. The train has become packed as usual. People are unavoidably in physical contact. Every time we come to a station, bodies getting on or off rub against mine, but because of the strap I keep my position. I usually pass time trying to decipher the ads hanging on the walls and from the ceiling. Today, all of them are variations on the same topic, the way to polite smoking in public, courtesy of Japan Tobacco.
An hour later the packed train gets to Tachikawa station. The doors open, and I’m pushed off into a wall of heat. Summer in Tokyo can really suck everything out of you. Turning to the stairs in step with a thousand others who’ve just gotten off, I head to work. At the gate I take out my pass, and flip the penguin on the sensor.
Out of another gate, a pimp in a light green summer suit with tortoise frame shades is heading the same way. Something yellow is crawling up his jacket toward his shiny head. Stepping up my pace, I get nearer. It’s a delicately winged insect, an elegant example of nature’s cunning craft. I’ve never been a yellow one though. This one sharply contrasted against the green jacket. It reaches the sun tanned neck, pauses, and flies off, just escaping the hand that slaps the neck. The skinhead looks at his empty hand and curses.
The insect emerges into the plaza. A sooty sparrow perched atop a guano smeared streetlamp, swoops down and gobbles it up. A few seconds later it drops from the sky, striking the top of an immaculate taxi waiting for a fare. The driver, a mid-aged sinewy man in a pure white short sleeve, gets out of the cab. Upon seeing the bird he straightens up in surprise, then reaches out, and grabs the bird. It resists and bites. Swearing, he flings the bird into the bushes and puts a handkerchief to his wounded hand. I linger a moment, but it seems the chain of events is over so I go to work
The virus horde enters and races through the body. Carried by the blood flow into every organ, they seek and invade the cells. Inside they multiply with amazing speed in such numbers the cell membranes explode, spreading the infection in a chain reaction of devastating destruction. Among this new force are programmed mutations with a special mission: to take over the body’s functions and spread their kind outside. They rush to the brain and overwhelm the defenses.
The pimp is hunting today. He stands outside the gates, a predator studying a passing herd for an easy kill, smiling and enjoying the hunt. He scans the crowd searching for his prey: the desperate or the bored, knowing them by the way they return his eyes. He's the bait and the hook waiting for them to make the first move and rarely letting any who bite escape.
Suddenly, everything is much brighter. He blinks hard and raises his hand to wipe his eyes, but he puts too much effort into it, loses his balance, and staggers forward. With his arms outstretched as if blind, he slowly falls on all fours to the pavement.
A teenager, her faced burnt from too much time under UV lamps, approaches and asks if he’s alright. As she bends over and lowers her arm, the pimp roars and lunges at her throat. She screams as they fall with his teeth buried into her neck.
I teach English conversation to Japanese. It’s still early, but Michael and Mulele are already in and preparing for class. After the usual greetings, I pick up my schedule folder and see what I’m going to be doing today. My first two lessons are with Mr. Tanabe, which means I need a strong cup of coffee, so I go into the hall to get one. I come back and start sipping when the door opens and Yuka walks in. She excited. “Hey, guys, you won’t believe what happened out there.”
Michael calmly looks over, “What did you see?”
“This yakuza skinhead went berserk and made like a vampire. He was on top of a woman, biting her. The screams were awful!”
Mulele smirks, “Nice try, Mari. We didn’t hear anything.”
Mari glares, “It’s true! Three men had to pull him off and one of them got bitten.”
I quickly ask, “Was he wearing a light green summer suit?”
“Yeah, real bad taste. How did you know?”
“I saw him at the station.”
Mari raises an eyebrow, “Was he acting strange?”
“No, he just stood out because of his get-up.” I’m about to tell them about the yellow bug when my neck is slapped.
Jason looks at his hand. “I got it. It was sucking your blood.” He shows me his hand. A delicate yellow insect like a miniature origami is squashed there. My mind plays back the fossil Archaeopteryx.
Koji grins, “Don’t worry, dude. You only lost a drop.”
The bell rings, and I go into the classroom. I find it hard to concentrate, but I’ve been doing this so long I manage to start the process. Then wham!
The student ages as wrinkles are clearly revealed. Objects mesmerize with their bright hues. Sounds vibrate throughout me. The student is roaring, the lights are stabbing, and a riot of sickening knowledge enters my brain. Then the third dimension warps, a miniature black hole appears, and my soul is sucked like taffy into ....
I'm at a great distance, and I have no control.
I stand up and turn toward the classroom door, but I don’t make it. The floor rises and rushes in front of me. I start flopping on the floor with frightening force and speed. People are shouting now and trying to help. Someone is turning me over. A bare arm looms. I lunge and sink my teeth into flesh as my saliva, in great quantities, invade.
Business is picking up as the temperature rises. His taxi is slowly moving up in line. Sitting behind the wheel, he contemplates his life. Raised by parents with no great expectations for their child, he has lived his life with little ambition and has no regrets. With no boss or wife to answer to, he’s in control of his life. He’s happy and content.
Today’s a beautiful day. He’s never seen things so clearly.
He jerks his head back hard on the headrest, then his body slams forward into the wheel, then back into the seat. His hands grip the wheel with all available strength. The taxi is rocking from his powerful exertions. His buddies rush out of their cabs to help. One of them opens the door, and the rocking stops.
It gets ready.