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However many copies of Antonio Torres there were, this was no time to be fainting. I told Lisa Lisa what had happened with Jim Graham, and she said,
“He pulled out his own tongue and internal organs? Hunh…so he emptied out his body. He threw the insides into the ocean, but is back at base…so what’s inside his body?”
There was no doubt in my mind. Antonio Torres has showed himself moments before Jim snapped. There was no sign of him after we crashed, but he hadn’t just vanished into thin air like some sort of ghost. Had he climbed inside Jim’s body while I was trying to snap a second photograph?
“If that theory is correct,”
Lisa Lisa went on,
“Then the problem is, he retains enough to fly a plane and blend in at the base without anyone realizing he isn’t the real Jim. Antonio Torres was a mean kid, but not stupid; and if knowledge and personality are harbored in the skin then that’s a vital fact me and the other Hamon Warriors need to know.”
Antonio had acquired a shocking new power to escape the pain of his mother’s abuse. He could shed his own skin like a snake, give it to his batshit crazy mom, but for that skin to remain alive (yet dead) was…
“Two other problems,”
Lisa Lisa said.
“If he is wearing Jim Graham’s body, how is Antonio Torres walking around in broad daylight?”
Oh, right, I thought. Some of the Gremlin sightings reported small 50 centimeter ones showing up in the day, but the one meter 30 centimeter ones only appeared at night or on cloudy days.
“Second, we have an intelligent zombie who can hide inside a human being, allowing them to operate during the day. And by simple arithmetic there are more than sixteen thousand of these. If they weren’t messing about with planes for fun, but to learn the construction and how to fly them, than that could be very bad. Zombies can move anywhere in the world very quickly, and there are a lot of dead bodies lying around right now. If the zombies
brought those bodies to life, and those new zombies attacked the living, creating even more zombies, then the zombie empire would expand explosively, far faster than any pyramid scheme.”
A ripple of alarm went through the Hamon Warriors around us. Lisa Lisa turned to face Straits and the others.
“Antonio Torres was on La Palma, and knows about the Hamon Warriors. He knows I’m one of them, and he’s seen me come to get Jorge, so I’m sure he’s already taken action. Whatever he does next will be big. We have to move quickly ourselves, while keeping an eye on the English Air Force.”
Straits said, nodding.
“But how can we fight zombies flying fighter planes? We can’t lace the ships’ bullets with Hamon, and Hamon doesn’t travel through the air. Sitting in the cockpit, there’s no way for us to touch the zombies directly.”
“Don’t worry. Jorge will shoot them all down,”
Lisa Lisa said. She wasn’t smiling. Woah, woah, I thought but then FOOOM a huge impact rocked the ground, reminding me that we were on a battlefield. A Hamon Warrior came rushing in.
“Enemy attack! The English are bombing us!”
No sooner had the words left his mouth than the hallway exploded, blowing him away. Ka-boom! A cloud of smoke and dust was left behind. The lights went out.
Our cries overlapped. I reached out my hand and found she had done the same, and our hands clasped.
she yelled, and pulled me after her into a run. Thuddd! Booom! More explosions shook the underground headquarters. The ceiling fell, and the walls crumbled as we ran past.
“How did they find us?”
Lisa Lisa asked.
“They must have tailed us in the Motorizing!”
“Impossible! Steven and I would have noticed if we were followed! I was watching for that the whole time!”
“Then you’ve got a mole!”
The underground passage led down to a cave that opened onto the ocean, and the cave had been modified into a harbor. As we burst out of the passage, Steven waved his hand.
“Jorge! Over here!”
Two hydroplane Motorizings were floating in the harbor, and Lisa Lisa and I jumped into one. The engine was already running, and the propellers spinning. The second we were in the cockpit, Steven yelled,
“You know how to fly it, right, Jorge!?”
I threw him a thumbs up.
“Got it! I’ve been flying a while now.”
“Ha ha ha! Then we’ll have no problem with these monsters! They’re just copying what they saw real pilots do!”
Damn straight. Steven and I started our planes taxiing. We ran side by side through the cave, engines sputtering, two walls of water spraying up behind us. The moment we left the cave mouth we started rising. I looked up and at a glance saw at least a dozen English Air Force Sopwith Camels whirling overhead, dropping bombs on the hidden base.
I shouted, but to no avail. Between the thunder of the bombs and the roar of our engines my voice never reached them, and my friends flying those Camels were already dead. I passed close enough to make sure, and the pilots eyes were focused on nothing, his head twisted in an unnatural direction, a horrible rictus smile on his face. Lisa Lisa reached up from behind, and put her hand on my shoulder.
“I’m fine. Thanks,”
I said, but I doubt she heard me. The pilots I’d fought alongside were gone now. Planes that had given me courage were just enemy machines now. But I was glad to know for sure. I accepted it, and it gave me strength. Thanks, I thought. You’ve made it easier to pull the trigger. Now I could focus on protecting the Hamon Warriors. Rat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat! My machine gun fired. One plane down, and Steven was starting his
attack. The other planes noticed us coming, and began fighting back, but they were no match for our experience. We took them down one at a time. No wasted bullets. Get behind them, and put a rat-tat-tat through their engine. Boom. They just gaped at the bullet holes. I mean, they were already dead. I flew between two Camels, shooting out their wings. They broke up in the air, and the planes started spinning; I dodged them and shot out the belly of the next Camel. Bang bang. Boom! It exploded in the air, and I dodged the fragments, did a loop, and looked for my next target. I heard a machine gun firing behind me, shook off the zombie who’d had the nerve to shoot at me, did a quick turn, got his back, and pulled the trigger. Rat-tat-tat! The bullets hit the pilot’s body but no blood emerged from the holes in his back or head. Instead, something came slithering up out of him; Antonio Torres, with no eyes. I didn’t hesitate to send more bullets his way. Rat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tattat-tat! Rat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat! I shredded his flat body with bullets, pulverizing it. There was a smile on my face, but tears streaming down my cheeks. He’d bullied me daily, always come after me, killed my friends, and attacked the heroes who could save mankind and now I was gonna kill the shit out of him ha ha ha! Bang bang bang bang! Another zombie pilot came at me before I could wipe the tears away. Rat-tat-tat! Booooom! Rat-tat-tat-tat! Vrooooom! Boom! The plane spiraled away, trailing smoke, and I had just made sure it smashed into the ground, when the other Motorizing shot across my field of vision with a zombie plane on its heels, guns firing. I quickly dropped my nose, firing down at the zombie plane and it blew up just as I passed it, which was a little too close for comfort.
“Sorry, Lisa Lisa! You aren’t hurt?”
I asked, and turned around to find Lisa Lisa’s eyes sparkling.
“I’m fine! You’re amazing, Jorge! So strong!”
Lisa Lisa had never said anything like that to me, and I went bright red, but the zombie I’d just killed had been a better pilot than me, a better shot, and had way more ideas for acrobatic tricks. Rat-tat-tat-tat-tat! I shot out the wings of another Camel and
the pilot stood up in his seat, turned towards me, opened his mouth and paper-thin Antonio Torres came slithering out of him, spread himself out and came soaring towards us like a flying squirrel.
“Jorge Joestar! You gotta lotta nerve growing up before I did!”
he shouted as he flew, and I broke up laughing. That was his big problem!? Behind me, Lisa Lisa said,
“OK, this is my job.”
She stood up, and her skirt instantly turned inside out. As I gaped at her beautiful legs, she said,
“Jorge, when this war’s over, let’s get married.”
“Eh? OK. …..hunh?”
“Come on, Antonio Torres! You remember me, right?”
Flying Squirrel Antonio yelped.
“Lisa Lisa!? Seriously? Balsa Blanca really is a pathetic limp-dicked motherfucker!”
It had been a while since I’d heard him sing that song and it rattled me a bit, but I yelled back,
“Says the undead flat dick! I knew you were always a hollow son of a bitch but I guess you wanna blame that shit on your psycho mom, hunh?”
“What the fuck!?”
Apparently mentioning his mom really ticked him off and he bared his fangs and jumped at me but I couldn’t dodge. Just before his teeth sank into my neck Lisa Lisa’s thin arm reached down at grabbed a handful of Antonio’s neck.
“Unh…leggo of me, ugly!”
Antonio really hadn’t changed at all. He was just like he’d been when we were kids, and that was both dumb and kinda unnerving. Lisa Lisa said curtly,
“I have no words to waste on you.”
Antonio began, but cracks began spreading out from where Lisa Lisa was holding him, and his body turned to dust, scattered away on the winds. Lisa Lisa dusted her hands off, and sat back down.
“Five more. You have enough bullets?”
I had enough for fifty. Bang bang bang! Boom. Rat-tat-tat! Rat-tat-tat! Ka-boom. My bullets hit the zombie planes, destroying their wings or
“The Germans are way better!”
I shouted, but of course they were. The enemy pilots were enemies, but they were also pilots, and I had respect for their skills. But I felt no such thing for these zombies. I was just pissed that they were flying around in the English Air Force’s valuable equipment. Shit! Shit! Shit! Fucking Antonio Torres! Forcing me to shoot down English planes!
Steven shot down two as well. I hadn’t been counting, but Lisa Lisa said I’d shot down twenty-three. Shooting down that many in a single dogfight would normally make me a Flying Ace. Sadly, since I was fighting zombies instead of real pilots my claim was invalid. It wasn’t even worth bragging about. All I could think about was what a waste of planes it was… The Hamon Warriors were checking the wreckage, running Hamon through the pilot’s bodies just in case, killing the Antonios. That was too easy, I thought. They’d spent years slowly learning how to fly a plane, then attacked the English Air Force and stole their pilots and planes, and that was the best they could muster? The only damage to the Hamon Warriors had been in the initial bombing, and since their base had been underground the damage from bombs on the ground had been limited. Antonio Torres must have known how good a pilot I was, so he should have known things would turn out this way. He was a crafty bastard, after all. So what was the point of this battle? Either a diversion or an attempt to delay me. Either way, the assumed intent of the attack – wiping out the Hamon Warriors – was not the real goal. So what was? Antonio’s own words echoed in my ears. Hey, Jorge Joestar…I’m afraid you’re gonna die here. And after you’re dead, I’m gonna kill your family, too. Their deaths will be even worse than yours. That piece of shit had promised to kill my family.
“I need a phone.”
I called my mother. Star Mark Tradings, the company she ran near the London Harbor. I wasn’t panicking yet, but she’d seen them coming.
“A lot of planes just flew in off the sea.”
“Mum, get Penelope, leave London, and get to the house in Westwood. Now.”
“Whatever for, Jorge? What’s going on? All those planes were English. Everyone’s getting ready to celebrate the return of the triumphant heroes.”
“The planes are all in a state. They’ve got bullet holes in them, or wings that clearly broke and were patched together again.”
Planes filled with the war dead. I looked out the window. It was still light out, but in England…?
“Is the sun out?”
“It’s not raining, but it’s very cloudy.”
“I understand. I’ll go back to the Joestar mansion, and hide in the basement with Penelope and Jonathan. Where are you?”
“France. But I’m with Lisa Lisa.”
“Oh. Then you’re safe.”
“But the Hamon Warriors can’t fly planes, and what’s flying into London are dead pilots.”
But they don’t have Antonio inside them. If the sun wasn’t out, they wouldn’t need to let Antonio fly. If the dead pilots were still as good as they’d been alive, this time we might be in for a real fight.
“I’m gonna have to fight.”
“…oh. Your father fought his own battle. And he won. I am sure you will emerge victorious, too.”
“Thank you. I’ll get there as fast as I can. Hurry, Mum.”
“Yes. Don’t worry about us. I’m leaving now. I love you, Jorge.”
“I love you, too, Mum.”
I hung up, then had an idea, and dialed another number.
“Whaaat? Jorge Joestar! If you’re calling, you must not be part of that huge squad in the sky, hunh? What’s up with that, some sort of air show? Did England win some big victory I didn’t hear about?”
The excited man who answered was John Moore-Brabazon. He’d quit flying planes five years ago after Charles Rolls’ accident, but he was still working as an engineer in the city.
“Promise to believe what I tell you, John?”
“Hunh? Ha ha. What? Of course, don’t be stupid.”
“Those guys flying in aren’t us. They’re enemies. They’re not even human. They’re all dead. They’ve returned from Hell to make the living like them.”
“………!? Uh….Jorge, what the…?”
“Look at those planes closely, John. Recognize any of them? Those planes belong to dead men. They shouldn’t be in the air.”
“Dead men? Hunh? What the…That’s Rupert Stiller’s Mary. And David Seymour’s Emma!”
Both of them were former Royal Aero Club members lost in combat; Mary and Emma were both Henry Farman IIIs, planes made in France. John found former friend after former friend in the sky; he’d been flying from the very start, so he knew a lot of fallen pilots.
“Augh…Joe Dearlove’s up there too,”
he said. I could hear him crying. I kept my voice calm.
“They’re all dead. But something evil has dragged our dead friends out from someplace very dark. John. They’re going to kill Englishmen, and eat them.”
“…eat!? What do you mean?”
“I mean that literally. They eat living humans.”
“They’d never do that…!”
“They aren’t the friends you knew. Your dead friends are still dead. They haven’t come back to life. Their bodies have just stepped out of their graves, and into those planes.”
I heard an explosion on the other end of the line. It was starting.
“What the fuck!? English planes are attacking London!”
“John, calm down and listen. You and anyone else alive out there have to fight them. I’ll be there as soon as I can. You hear me?”
“What the fuck!? God damn it! Stop!”
John yelled. He’d put the receiver down. So I yelled down the line,
“John Moore-Brazabon! Listen! This is in your hands! Get as many men together as you can, get them in their planes, and start fighting back! Don’t fuck around! Just do it! They’re already dead, and won’t die if you just kill them normally! You gotta annihilate them!”
This was a horrible thing to say. But I had to put it like that.
“Auuggghhhhh, Jorge! Is this really happening!?”
“John! I’m flying there as soon as I hang up! You fight, and you live through this, OK?”
There was another explosion, and the line went dead in the middle. I put the phone down, turned around, and found the Hamon Warriors listening, dressed for war.
“The main force is attacking England,”
“They’re flying planes that were shot down, the pilots killed. They’re English planes, so they faced no resistance until they started the attack. They’re already over London, and it sounds like they just started firing. By the time we get their, their invasion will be well underway. Contact any Hamon Warriors in England. If any of them have contacts in the English army, direct them to fight back. There’ll be plenty of zombies shot down who survived, so we’ll need men on the ground as well. Tell anyone you know to run and hide. I’m heading off to fight. I’ll knock as many zombies as I can out of the sky. Please save any survivors.”
We all ran. When Lisa Lisa tried to jump on the Motorizing after me, I said,
“Lisa Lisa, it’ll be dangerous.”
She ignored me. She
was still wearing a skirt, so I said,
“Sure you don’t want to put some trousers on?”
She just laughed.
“Don’t worry, I’ve been a girl a while, I’ve figured out how to keep the contents of my skirt hidden.”
That wasn’t what I was driving at, but this was Lisa Lisa. If Lisa Lisa said she’d be fine, she’d be fine.
“Oh, but I’ll take this,”
she said, stealing my aviator hat.
“Oh, you can keep these,”
she said, handing the goggles back. …fine. Steven was climbing into the plane next to us. Honestly, that last fight had just proved how little combat experience he had, but I didn’t stop him. Once again, Steven and I sped out of the cave for the ocean and the sky. We took a quick look glance at the condition of the surface after the bombing, and then headed West across the North Sea. The attack had been intense, but like I thought, relatively few casualties. It was an hour’s flight from here to London. How bad would the zombie invasion be before we got there? The dead were mostly flying planes lost in the war, but how well armed were they? If they only had the ammo they’d been shot down with, then probably not that much, but Antonio Torres wasn’t likely to half-ass something like that. He’d already taken over the English Naval Air Force headquarters, so he’d most likely stolen all the bombs and bullets he needed. This was gonna be brutal.
Lisa Lisa said.
“I got a favor to ask.”
“Can you give me a quick run down on how to fly a plane?”
By the time we were almost across the North Sea Lisa Lisa was flying my Motorizing.
“Hmm…and other planes more or less work the same?”
“Yeah. What you need to control them is always the same, and basically they all have a long body with wings and propellers in front.”
she said, looking over the instrument panel in a
way that made me worried.
“What are you planning?”
“Last time I just sat behind you and couldn’t do anything, right? So this time I thought I’d go for broke.”
I got even more worried.
“Go for broke how?”
“Whatever occurs to me in the moment. Oh, right,”
she said, and turned the stick to the side, placing us in front of Steven.
“Jorge, take over.”
Lisa Lisa stood up, I scrambled into the cockpit next to her and grabbed the flight stick, and she moved, but not into the back seat – she jumped out into thin air.
“Augh! Lisa Lisa!”
She jumped with so little wind up I thought it was accidental, but she’d tied to loose end of the thread in her scarf to the control stick. The thread was unraveling quickly, and stretched from my plane to the air above Steven’s. Lisa Lisa let go of the thread and landed right behind Steven. Steven looked every bit as flabbergasted as I was. I quickly shifted my plane so I was flying next to him, and heard her shouting something at Steven.
she said, and then put her hands on his shoulders, brushed them gently down his back to his shoulder blades, gave him a push and then pulled back from him and Steven’s wings came out in her palms. Steven looked surprised by this, but did not appear to be in pain. Once the big white wings were both fully emerged from his back, Lisa Lisa said something to Steven, tapped him on his shoulder, stood up, and glanced over at me with a smile. I think she said something too, but it was lost in the roar of the engines and propellers…but then Lisa Lisa jumped out of the cockpit, ran across the top of the Motorize past Steven and onto the wing. The wind force had her leaning damn near 90 degrees and her skirt was going crazy, but she ran all the way down the wing and then jumped off and landed on my wing, skirt still flapping like crazy, and then ran up my wing back to me.
she said, and flopped down behind me. 507 When I didn’t say anything, Lisa Lisa explained,
“I figured Steven should have his wings out! I hear that can hurt a lot, so I
scattered the pain with Hamon and got them out for him.”
Heh…I see. This time I thought I’d go for broke. Ah ha ha. Lisa Lisa’s definition of going for broke was clearly beyond the capacity of my imagination. This gave me courage.
“Jorge, I can see it!”
Lisa Lisa cried, pointing far across the sky, were thick clouds covered the ground. The lower end of the clouds had a dull orange glow. They were lit by fire. London was burning.
“Let’s do this, Lisa Lisa!”
I glanced over at Steven, and he nodded back. I looked forward again, and I could just make out the silhouettes of the fighter planes in the air ahead. The closer we got the most horrifying the scene became. There were nearly three hundred airplanes in the sky above London, all lined up and circling the town. As if drawing a massive magic circle in the air above the city.
“I’ve never seen a battle like this,”
I muttered. Of course not. We were fighting the dead. Their tactics and strategies would bear no resemblance to those of the living.
“I’m gonna do what I do, you just fight how you need,”
Lisa Lisa said, putting her hands on my shoulders and standing up.
“And like I said before, my skirt’ll be fine, don’t worry.”
I looked up and saw her grinning.
“Don’t you dare die, Lisa Lisa,”
I said. She was gonna be my wife. She met my gaze.
“I won’t die. Don’t you dare die, either. We’ll win here, go home, and get married.”
“I’ll hold you to that promise.”
“Heh heh. Just hold up your end.”
Vrroooooom! As we drew closer, some of the zombie pilots saw us, and began shouting. Their formation splintered, and ten planes turned towards us, but we shot past without engaging. Just the two of us against this massive force. The most chaos we caused the better. Bam bam bam bam! Ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba! Bang bang bang bang! We dodged fire from multiple machine guns and slammed into the center of the magic circle, and several pilots were so
surprised by us cutting across their formation they accidentally turned into the plane next to them, crashing into each other. At least five or six planes exploded and went down all at once. For patched up wrecks these planes were flying well; they must have zombie engineers to go along with the zombie pilots. I let out a roar and the zombies responded with their own guttural shrieks, echoing across the sky.
“Here I go!”
Lisa Lisa said, and began running up the front of the Motorizing. She put one foot on the wing and jumped just as an enemy plane came by. She grabbed its wheels with one hand and was whisked away from me. She must have run Hamon through the plane; the zombie pilot howled and his body melted away. I circled for a moment, keeping an eye on her, but she scrambled up the side of the plane and slid into the pilot seat, and without even a glance in my direction began firing the plane’s guns. Ba-ba-ba-ba-ba! Boom! Boom! Boom! Her first volley took out three planes and I couldn’t help but laugh out loud.
“Ah ha ha! Amazing!”
I said, but I didn’t have time to gawk. Lisa Lisa was clearly doing fine, so fine I’d have to kick things up a notch or I’d wind up as baggage. I couldn’t jump from plane to plane like she did so I’d have to fight with the bullets I had. In other words, I had to aim carefully. So I forced myself to remain calm, move the stick rhythmically, concentrate. Rat-tat-tat! Boom! Rat-tat-tat! Blaaam! No matter where I aimed there were enemy planes, so at first every bullet I shot sent a zombie spiraling down, but this time the zombie’s rotting bodies had been in combat before, and they quickly adapted to my assault. I was sure I’d known the guy who turned to fight me. A Frenchman named Vincent Lecoeur. A Nieuport 17 with a picture of a dog painted on its belly. That was his, alright. The Nieuport had a max speed of 177 kph and he’d made the thing go 200, and even dead his thirst for speed was unabated and he shot past my plane like a bolt of lightning. But I didn’t chase him. I pressed on towards the center of the magic circle. Rat-tat-tat! Rat-tat-tat-tat! Each and every time a grossly discolored fleshbag crossed my sights I shot
them and the metal box they sat in down. The planes broke up and the zombies popped out and as they passed me every one of them was leaking all over and grinning, eyes rolling the wrong way; out of the cockpit they were all just corpses that hadn’t died. Shit, I thought. At least try and fight back before you die again! But a group of zombies had seen me and formed a squad and were starting to chase me around so I also thought maybe don’t try so hard, guys, you’re dead. I knew I shouldn’t be feeling sympathy for zombies just because they’d been pilots once. I shook off a four finger formation with a series of loops and Aileron rolls, and shot the zombie planes down. Rat-tat-tat-tat! Rat-tat-tat-tat-tat! I did not escape unscathed. A storm of bullets from a fleet of Sopwith Camels hit the belly of my Motorizing.
I shot the Camels down from above but Vincent Lecoeur’s Nieuport 17 came at me again and hit my wing dead on. Rat-tat-tat-tat! Direct hit. Crack! Crack craaaack crack… my wing split down the middle but as it did the other Motorizing slipped in under me. Steven! He waved for me to jump down, but uh, really? But if I stayed where I was the plane would fall apart around me. Jumping into Steven’s plane was totally impossible but I flung myself out of the cockpit and put myself at the mercy of the winds.
As I did the wing came off completely and the Motorizing shot upwards and away, breaking apart. Steven’s Motorizing came up under me, gently catching me in the rear seat.
I yelled, clutching the seat for dear life. I reached between his great white wings and slapped Steven on the back.
“Thank you, Steven!”
“Ha ha! Glad that worked. You’re really something, man, its all I can do to run.”
“Heh heh, but you’ve done all right at that!”
“Yeah, but I gotta fight a little, here! You take the plane.”
“Look at her!”
Steven was, of course, pointing at Lisa Lisa. She was bounding from plane to plane, frying the zombie pilot, then pulling the trigger as long as there were bullets left, enemy
planes going down boom boom boom and the moment she was empty she’d fling herself at the next plane over. Boing hisssss bam bam bam bam ka-boom. She was a fucking war god.
“I want the freedom to fight like that,”
Steven said. He spread his wings, and was off into the sky. Ahh! I turned around just in time to see him swoop in on the Nieuport 17 on my tail, yank zombie Vincent Lecoeur out of the cockpit, and drop him into thin air. Then Steven occupied the emptied cockpit, pulled up hard, and sprayed his machine guns, shooting several other enemy planes down. Boom Boom boom. Crap, he was doing so well I forgot to stop watching. This was a battlefield! I put my game face back on. Watching Lisa Lisa and Steven fight was like watching ballet. I wrapped my hand around the stick on my second Motorizing of the day, and shouted,
“Here I come!”
Rat-tat-at-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat! Boom boom boom boom boom boom boom!
The three of us moved as we pleased through the skies over London, decimating the enemy forces. Dogfight techniques were growing by leaps and bounds every day this war lasted, so there were tons of moves pilots who died didn’t get a chance to learn, and it was great fun using all of those against them but even if they were dead they were still good pilots and bullets did hit my plane and Steven and Lisa Lisa had to help me change planes another four times. Any time I was in trouble, one of the two would be there instantly; I was totally saved by them, but oh well! The last plane I had was a Fokker E.III. One of the few German planes in the fight; I’d shot the German zombie in the head with a pistol, thrown his freshly dead again corpse out, and then gone back to fighting a Camel that had been on my ass for a while. The Camel’s pilot was Jim Graham. Judging by the way he was flying, Antonio Torres wasn’t inside; he was still hollowed out. Steven, flying next to me, asked,
“Need a hand?”
I shook my head.
“Nah. I got this. I think,”
I said, but twenty
seconds earlier he’d shot down another Camel I’d been flying. Damn it, Jim, you’re a way better pilot now that you’re a zombie. Does being hollowed out make it easier for you to move? I grabbed the Fokker’s stick and yelled,
“Let’s try this again, Jim!”
Jim’s Camel had been wheeling around, as if waiting for me to get ready, but now he came hurtling towards me. I rolled to avoid the bullets, and pulled the trigger, the bullets on the Fokker’s machine guns timed to fire through the propellers without hitting them. Click. Click. Um. What? They’d jammed? Shit. I looked front and Jim was grinning at me even though he was a zombie and I got mad so as we passed each other I waggled my wings and hit Jim in the head with the Fokker’s wingtip, decapitating him. Splat! No blood came out of his neck stump. There was a huge hole in the cross-section, proving he’d been emptied out. There wasn’t a single Antonio Torres anywhere in the skies over London. He must be somewhere else entirely, doing something else evil. I looked around and found the skies were quiet. Lisa Lisa had blown the last zombie away and brought its plane in diagonally above my Fokker. Then she hopped out of the cockpit.
I let go of the stick, held up my arms, and caught her in mid air. She was doing a very good job keeping that skirt from showing too much, I thought. She gave me a big hug, and said,
“That was incredible! Jorge, you really have become strong! Look! The three of us saved the skies of London!”
I looked around. The clouds still glowed orange, but there were no more zombies flying. I could hear cheering. From the burning streets of London. I looked down, and the zombies we’d shot down were being chased around by crowds of people. The Hamon Warriors had arrived on the ground, and were turning zombie after zombie into ash and smoke.
“Looks like they’re done over there, too,”
Lisa Lisa said. I turned to look, and ten English planes were approaching from the North, flashing their lights in Morse Code to prove they weren’t more zombies. Lisa Lisa could read Morse Code, and she translated for me.
“’Good job taking back London. Thanks!’“
When I saw who sent that signal, I almost wept. It was John Moore-Brazabon.
“’Sorry we’re late. We decided to control the perimeter and keep them trapped in London.’ Hmph. Jorge, should I say they gave up too easily?”
“Uh…ah ha ha, no, don’t!”
As we passed each other, John and I grinned and held our thumbs up, but when he saw Lisa Lisa sitting on my knees John looked surprised, then mimed a whistle. Then Steven came out from the Fokker’s shadow, wings stretched out behind him, and John’s eyes nearly popped out of his head.
“Seems about right,”
Steven said, laughing.
“That was John Moore-Brazabon,”
“He’s connected politically, might be able to parlay you helping save London into a pardon.”
Steven shot me a look.
“I knew you were innocent, but couldn’t do a thing to save you. And you make an offer like that back? You’re too good for this world.”
I really didn’t care about that.
“We’re war buddies now.”
We both reached out our hands, and I shook Steven’s hand was we rode the wind.
“Thanks, Jorge. Thanks for saving England. Thanks for saving the world.”
Tears started welling up in Steven’s eyes, and I thought he was overstating things but we did win and maybe we had saved England and maybe we had saved the world.
“The three of us did it together,”
“Thank you, Steven. And thank you, Lisa Lisa.”
Her arm still around me, Lisa Lisa closed her eyes, smiled, and said not a word. Oh, I thought. This was what she did every
Save the world.
Hamon Warriors were sent to every corner of England, and reports came back that no further signs of zombie invasion had been found. But we knew a few thousand, possibly even tens of thousands of Antonio Torres were still hiding somewhere, so the Hamon Warriors kept digging, and instituted a national health exam to make sure there were none hiding inside ordinary citizens. Steven went back to the Motorize Manor, Lisa Lisa went back to the Hamon Warriors, and I went on with the war, and lost a lot of friends, but somehow boring dicks like William Cardinal stayed alive. Cardinal survived the attack on the Naval Air Force Base by Antonio Torres with nothing worse than a broken leg, and then told everyone he’d ordered me to the fight in London and was treated like even more of a hero that I was, got himself promoted, and by the time the war ended and the Army and Naval Air Forces had been merged into the English Air Force, he was the supreme commander, never had to go to any dangerous fronts, and got to sit in his damn wheelchair acting like a big shot, but whatever, the war was finally wrapping up. The only good thing about wars was that they ended.
So with the war over, I went back to Westwood and the Joestar Mansion, and wondered what to do with myself. Flying fighter planes had been a great job but I’d quite like to get married and have some kids so maybe a less potentially fatal job would be good, like a pilot on a merchant plane. Maybe take it easy flying passengers around. But John Moore-Brazabon asked me to get involved in politics and since we’d had a lot of fun doing cars and planes together I could totally see the appeal of doing something new, but I’d been with John a while now and I thought that, as a
man, it was high time I did something on my own so I kinda wanted to try something else, too. I thought about things for a while and man, Lisa Lisa was sure taking her time coming. Hunh. What was going on there? I figured she was busy, but Lisa Lisa was never not busy so that hardly presented a problem. Had she changed her mind? That thought made it feel like something was squeezing all the air out of my heart so I got real serious about it real fast. What had I done? Ever since the Attempted Zombie Invasion of London I’d just continued on with the war against humans, but…thinking about it, I remembered the stories my war buddies had told.
“I was just”
excuses never seemed to work with girlfriends and wives. Lots of times the thing they were ‘just’ doing was what caused the strife in the first place, and since they didn’t do much of anything besides what they were ‘just’ doing, and it was often the case that their girls wanted them doing something else. It was hard for me to believe that Lisa Lisa disapproved of me going to war and flying planes in it. So the latter situation was more likely to apply here. All I’d done was the war, so I’d almost certainly failed to do something Lisa Lisa wanted me to do. Mm, if Lisa Lisa has been expecting something from me, I was absolutely confident I had failed to live up to that expectation. I’d seriously done nothing else but the war, and we hadn’t even seen each other in three whole years. I hadn’t called her at all, or even written her a letter. But I mean, we’d always been that way, right? After Lisa Lisa joined the Hamon warriors and went off with Straits, I’d only seen her the night lots of people died in the church on La Palma, in the darkness of the underground shrine in Rome, in jail, and the day we exterminated all the zombies in London. Man. That wasn’t nearly enough. Had we really only been together two weeks in the last seventeen years? Our time in jail was comparatively long, but otherwise we’d only met four times. Four? Eh? Really? I felt like we’d met and talked and been
together a lot more than that but we really hadn’t. It was like we just coincidentally bumped into each other during some crisis or other. Wait, I realized…that’s what it was like when we were kids. We only met when I was in trouble. Like I only needed Lisa Lisa when my back was to the wall…and not just that, Lisa Lisa also only met me when she in a tight spot. Was that enough for both of us, then? But I was old enough to know better now. Couples, married or not, did not last long if they only met when absolutely necessary. It was vital they be together on ordinary days, and spend time together doing nothing in particular; that was what cemented their bonds. Oh, shit, I thought. This was bad. We needed a relationship revolution! With that wind in my sails I decided to go see Lisa Lisa. According to mum, she was in Switzerland. Switzerland? Nice. Nobody looked better backed by snow covered mountains than I did. All fired up I dashed off to Switzerland, grabbed Lisa Lisa, and yelled:
“Damn it, Lisa Lisa, if you don’t love me why’d you say you wanted to marry me!?”
….uh. Hunh!? I had no idea why I’d said it like that. It was a total sulky whine, made me sound as dumb as I was, like a toddler. I’d planned on being very mature, and expressing my desire to date properly, to face our feelings, to strengthen our relationship over time, to take things to another level. And yet… I stood their flapping my lips and uttering strange gasps, unable to say anything else at all, much less correct course. Lisa Lisa stared at me for a moment, then burst out laughing. To my great relief. Lisa Lisa was just as she always was, and seeing that bright smile of hers was all I needed to know I’d been been trapped in a mental cage of my own devising.
“Don’t be ridiculous, Jorge,”
Lisa Lisa said, exactly as I’d
secretly hoped she would.
“Why would you ever think I didn’t love you? Of course I love you. Can you not tell without seeing me? I’d think you should know that much even when we’re apart. Loving you is a foundation of my personality! You know me better than anyone, so I think you know that much, too.”
I did. But I got scared anyway. Then Lisa Lisa said,
“Sorry, I’m sure this is because the war ended but all I’m doing is Hamon warrior work.”
Yeah, well, exactly, yes.
“I really am sorry,”
she went on.
“I genuinely wanted to go running straight to you, Jorge. I’ve been waiting and waiting and waaaaiting for the war to end! Heh heh, sorry, I sound like a little girl, don’t I? I’m almost thirty! I act more grown up with everyone else, but when I’m with you, Jorge, I feel like we’re kids again, and that shows in how I act.”
I mean, she didn’t even look twenty yet, and to my eyes she basically hadn’t changed at all since I was ten. But when I hastily tried to tell her this she said,
“But I was just so scared. I mean, Master Tom Petty went and said something ridiculous about you dying around the time we get married.”
He can use Hamon to predict what will happen in the
This old bald dude was how she’d been able to find me stranded in the North Sea. Ngapoi Ngawang Tom Petty. Lisa Lisa had started crying, so I said,
“I’m not going to die, Lisa Lisa. I promise I won’t. You remember my dad, right? Joestar men don’t die and leave their wives or lovers. I won’t wind up as just a head, though; me and all parts of me will stay with you.”
Lisa Lisa flung herself into my arms, nestled her head in my chest, and kept on crying so I got mad. Where was that bald son of a bitch? I was ready to kill him for spouting crap and making Lisa
Lisa feel like this…was there any way to prevent his prophecy from coming true?
Seeing red, I dragged a reluctant Lisa Lisa around looking for Tom Petty, and found him. Face to face, his intimidating aura instantly killed my rage, and I asked with a smile,
“Sorry, about this prophecy that I’ll die…”
Tom Petty adjusted the layers of Eastern gowns he wore.
“You’ll die. What? You thought you wouldn’t?”
“Not natural causes, right? I heard some nonsense about me dying right after Lisa Lisa and I get married.”
“I speak neither lies nor nonsense.”
Lisa Lisa said, wiping her tears.
“Tom Petty would never do that.”
C’mon Lisa Lisa, don’t you want to fight this thing, too? But I guess saying as much wouldn’t do much to fate or destiny, and Lisa Lisa knew full well (and I kinda knew, too) that those things could absolutely be foretold by someone properly prophetic. So I guess we had to accept it. But just as my emotions were starting to settle down, Tom Petty looked puzzled, and said,
“But maybe you won’t die. Mm? No, you won’t. I dunno. Up to you.”
Hunh? We both looked up, surprised.
“You have, um…”
Tom Petty said.
“A god of sorts – not the God, mind you, but a god – looking out for you.”
This again. A god that chose an individual on a whim.
For the first time in god knows how long, I remembered the
words my friend Tsukumojuku had said. And I have a name for this thing guiding me from somewhere not of this world. I call it: Beyond.
“It seems you’re aware of the concept,”
Tom Petty said.
“Up to you whether to believe in it or not, Jorge Joestar. If you believe in it, you won’t die. If you can’t put your faith in it, then you will be brutally murdered by something terrifying, as fated.”
I blurted. Tsukumojuku had said, With Beyond at your side, your adventure will be without compare. Tom Petty’s steely eyes softened in a smile.
“Then I guess you won’t die.”
Uh…was it that easy? Lisa Lisa looked pretty stunned by this, too.
“That god may not have made up its mind, either. But if you wish to go on living, you must follow that god.”
Well, then, no help for it, I now believed in Beyond. But I wasn’t exactly sure how to do this, so I just thought, thanks in advance! And didn’t really do anything else about it.
Then Lisa Lisa and I left Switzerland, went back home, announced our engagement, and started planning the wedding. This church, then a party in the garden at the Joestar mansion, so we’d need drinks and food, and what kind of music should the band play, anyway? Lisa Lisa and mom and Penelope went on and on and on and on about that sort of thing. I was relieved to see Penelope enjoying herself; she’d been at odds with Lisa Lisa before. Penelope picked up on my relief and explained,
“But Lisa Lisa’s amazing! I could never measure up. I’m glad it’s Lisa Lisa, really. If it was anyone else I’d be jealous, but with Lisa Lisa I just can’t bring myself to feel that way!”
I remembered Darlington saying much the same thing. No, I think the truth is, very few girls can live up to someone so
beautiful and…and amazing. I agreed, Lisa Lisa was beautiful and amazing and I was still laughing about it when I got her pregnant. Crap. But mom and Penelope were explosively happy. They both let out long, shrill shrieks of joy when they heard. Lisa Lisa was super embarrassed but also really happy, so I was relieved, but I wondered what Straits would think.
“I don’t think he’d think anything of it,”
Lisa Lisa said.
“And it’s really early still, so let’s wait a bit, and let him know when things have settled down a bit.”
Then Lisa Lisa and mom and Penelope redid their whole plan. They considered trying to do it before she showed, but that was deemed too fast, so they decided to have it after the baby was born, and in the end our wedding was moved to the next year. With the child being born first, everyone treated Lisa Lisa like an absolute queen. Old man Speedwagon sent presents at an shocking rate, one of everything for boys and girls. I let out my first ever happy scream.
“Please, calm down!”
I begged, unable to wipe the grin off my face.
“I’ll do as I damn well please!”
Speedwagon said, standing his ground. Ah ha ha. Then the baby was born. A boy. We named him Joseph Joestar. That way he’d be a Jojo, too. He inherited Lisa Lisa’s talents, and even as a baby he defaulted to Hamon breathing, and whenever I tried to change his diaper or hold him I’d wind up hopping around going bzzzzt bzzzt, stunned. When Joseph cried in my arms electric shocks ran from the top of my head down my left hip and I nearly passed out, but I held fast and acted like nothing was wrong. Of course this was just me and it proved no problem for Lisa Lisa, so Lisa Lisa gave me a scarf made from the same stuff as hers. The Smrtipologian Beetle’s thread. It blocked the Hamon and scattered it harmlessly, and now I could wrap Joseph in it to change his diaper, hold him, or take him in the bath…except the water conducted Hamon well, so the beetles
weren’t helpful there. Anyway, we set the wedding date late enough that Joseph would be able to hold his head up. Everything was prepared properly, and the only thing left to worry about was the weather. On the morning of November 11th, I was all decked out in my air force full-dress uniform when John Moore-Brabazon came in, grinning ear to ear in his tuxedo.
“So this best man of yours isn’t here yet?”
he asked. Hunh? Who, Steven Motorize?
“Heh heh heh, he overdo it a bit at the bachelor party last night? Tch. Whatever, don’t worry about it, I’ll be happy to be the best man in his place.”
For some reason John was campaigning to be my best man, and frankly it had not been an easy choice on my part, but I simply couldn’t pick anyone but my first friend in England, my neighbor, and the man who’d saved my life. So, to avoid upsetting my bride, I elected to sneak off to the Motorize home to check things out. I let Penelope, the maid of honor, know what was up.
“Whaaat? Can’t anyone else do it?”
she said, but the Motorize family and I had a history, and since Ben Motorize had reclused himself William Cardinal had taken over the family affairs so I could see this being a bit of a problem. John was, in fact, constantly at odds with William Cardinal, an arrogant man who tended to abuse his power. It would just be faster if I went myself. The Joestar mansion garden had been transformed into a wedding venue, and as I ducked through it I saw mum holding Joseph. I was pretty sure she saw me but I ignored that, hopped in my car, and headed for the Motorize manor. Steven and Cardinal didn’t exactly get along, either, and there was a strong possibility Cardinal had forced Steven to do something just to get at me, again. I reached the Motorize Manor, and saw Steven’s car still there. Guess he made it home from the party last night just fine. Well, he’d been sipping his drinks quietly while my army buddies yucked it up, and hadn’t seemed all that drunk when he’d said his goodbyes, so I’d figured he got home all
I got out of the car, and headed for the door, regretting the fact that I was still dressed for the ceremony in my full-dress uniform. That smug bastard could be absolutely intolerable with anyone he considered beneath him, and might well pretend his hand slipped and spill tea or coffee on my uniform. Well, if he did that to me today, I’d…maybe not say anything but Lisa Lisa sure as hell would. I rang the doorbell. Normally Faraday would, without ever running, answer the door in mere moments, but today there was no sign of him. I tried knocking. Still no answer, so I tried the knob, and the door wasn’t locked. I opened the door, and took a step in.
“Hello? Good morning!”
I called, but there was still no reply. Weird, were they out? I didn’t find that thought convincing, largely because I could sense someone in the house. Someone? That seemed like the wrong word. What was it? This awful feeling that had swept through me?
“Steven? Hey, Steven Motorize! It’s Jorge!”
Should I go to Steven’s room upstairs? But when I set foot on the staircase, I froze in my tracks. The carpet was seeped in blood. This was bad. And the blood wasn’t dry at all…in fact, there was steam rising off it so it was very fresh indeed. There was a thud from somewhere deeper in the manor, and something that sounded like a groan. This wasn’t over yet. It was still happening, right now. …damn it. I grabbed the poker from the fireplace at the back of the entrance lobby, and took a firm grip on it with both hands. The sound had come from upstairs. To the right from the top of the staircase. Darlington’s bedroom was most likely on the right. Steven’s was on the left, but…would he have a gun hidden in his room? I didn’t know. Fuck it. I ran up the stairs. I put my back to the wall, and peeked down the hallway to the right. At the back of the hall stood a girl, in pajamas, her head down. Covered in blood.
I said, and stepped out in the hall, but was that Darlington? She was taller and skinnier than Darlington, and her hair hung straight down, no sign of Darlington’s meticulous little curls. But I recognized that hair, and her figure. The blood-stained girl raised her head when I stepped out into the hall. It was Kenton Motorize. As she’d been when she died fifteen years ago. I stopped in my tracks, stunned, and Kenton said,
She was a zombie…no, perhaps she had been for quite some time now. While you were studying planes, Steven and my father have been studying ways to bring back the dead. And they found a place in South America that had stories about it, and found some sort of proof that some ritual had actually given life to the dead. Darlington had told me that, but Steven had worked with Lisa Lisa and the Hamon warriors, so there was no way he’d ever let Kenton be turned into a zombie. He’d abandoned the idea the first them he encountered real zombies. Steven himself had said I knew it would be an unforgivable sin to make Kenton into one of those horrible things.
“Uh, Kenton…? How…?”
“Duhhh blaghhh blaghh ffaahh!”
There was no meaning in her utterances, no trace of Kenton’s mind left. Mouth hanging open, the zombie flung itself at me and I jammed the poker in its face with out a second’s thought. Sorry! Goodbye, old friend. The girl who’d taught me about planes. I wanted to be like you; I wanted to fly like you did.
the zombie yelped. The poker came out the back of the zombies head, and it stopped moving. She was dead again. This wasn’t Kenton, I told myself, again. And again. I let her frail body slump to the floor. Behind me,
“Oh…what the…Jorge Joestar?”
said William Cardinal, seated in a wheelchair. A gun pointed at me.
This was his fault. Steven would never make Kenton a zombie. But why would William Cardinal have done it? Simple. Because he was an idiot. Not an ignorant kind of idiot, but the kind that should know better. He’d been attacked by zombies and suffered as a result, but the kind of doubled down idiot that idiotically try to find a way to use zombies anyway.
“You thought you could use Kenton in war, Cardinal?”
“Ha ha ha! Any true soldier would think the same…!”
He was also the long-winded type of idiot, so I knew he’d be unable to resist launching into a monologue. So the second he started to boast, I yanked the poker out of Kenton’s head, swung it hard, and knocked the gun out of his hand. Crack! Schiiing…the gun hit the wall and slid away across the floor. Cardinal looked surprised, and went silent.
“Not another word.”
“It didn’t hurt,”
Well, we both had our adrenaline up, I thought, my mind mostly trying to decide it the army or the police should be called to judge his actions. Or should I do that, right here and now? Then I noticed there was no blood coming out of the cut on his hand, and stopped thinking at all.
“Hunh? A wound this bad should hurt, shouldn’t it? Joestar!”
Cardinal yelled. He hadn’t realized it yet. But he was one, too. A zombie. But he was going to work every day as the commander of the air force…which necessitated working in the sunlight. So his exterior remained human flesh. Which meant…at this point, my legs started quivering. I asked – in Spanish –
“Why do you hate me so much? What draws such loathing out of you?”
Antonio Torres’ muffled Spanish echoed from the back of William Cardinal’s throat.
“It’s how I get my kicks these days, balsa blanco. Heh heh heh. …is what I’d like to say, but that’s not it at all, nitwit! Who cares about you? I’m just doing what my boss tells me to! Although it’s all the more fun when you happen to be involved!”
All the while there was this squelching crunching slurping sound going on, and Cardinal’s skin was being pulled and twisted inward. He was clearly being eaten as we spoke. And Antonio’s control over Cardinal’s body was growing stronger. I started backing down the hallway. As I passed Kenton’s body, the door to the room was open, and inside I saw half-eaten bits of Steven and Ben and Darlington, but they weren’t lying still, but twitching and pulsing. They were getting ready to rise again as zombies. My friends…!
“Pfft, hahh…you’re a soldier, you know the boss’s orders are absolute, right?”
Antonio said, belching.
“Today’s your last day, Jorge Joestar. All that’s left is for you to die.”
Antonio pushed the chair’s wheels forward with both hands, still wearing Cardinal. I kept backing up, but soon ran out of hall to back up into.
“I can’t afford to die,”
I said. I was getting married today. Not dying.
“You will die,”
“It’s already decided. My boss said it was your destiny.”
“You keep going on about this boss…who is it? Anyone a shitbag like you would follow can’t be worth much.”
“How dare you insult the boss!”
“A fucking insect like you has no right!”
Heh, I grinned.
“Big talk considering how many of you I shot down in my plane. We aren’t kids any more, Antonio; I’m done putting up with your shit. You fucking midget. You think you can beat me just cause I’m not flying a plane?”
“…I do, asshole. No way I’m losing barehanded.”
Antonio tried to stand Cardinal up, but Cardinal had been in that wheelchair so long he didn’t have the muscles left, and he just collapsed in a heap on the floor…and then slapped both hands down hard, flinging himself bodily into the air, caught the light fixture, and dangled from it. Zombies sure were strong. Meanwhile I had a poker. Was that enough? Cardinal’s flesh looked pretty firm. How
deep would this poker really pierce? Hmm. I might be at a bit of a disadvantage, here. But I had a bride waiting for me! The ribbons were in the way, so I tossed my uniform aside, took a firm grip on my poker, and got ready. Just facing up to Antonio Torres was enough to make tears well up. My legs were shaking. I was the one still dragging our childhoods around with me. Damn it!
“C’mon! Antonio Torres! You bullied me every damn day! About time I got a turn!”
“Trying to sound tough?”
Antonio sniggered, swinging from the light fixture.
“Lisa Lisa’s not coming to save you. Just watch.”
Antonio jerked Cardinal’s chin, pointing at the window. In the sky outside was another Antonio Torres, gliding like a flying squirrel. Two of them…three. No, even more. Close to the window I could tell. A flock of flying squirrel Antonios was coming in from the coast.
“You know how many there are?”
“One flat ass zombie’s as good as another.”
Antonio ignored this.
920,000!? I gaped at him, but Antonio’d been dead for twenty years, and if he’d been shedding to double his numbers every year, no matter how many of him we’d killed in the war he’d end up with that many.
“We’ve got all of England surrounded now! Today’s the day! Our boss is taking over this entire country! Heh heh heh! Our boss promised me I could have Lisa Lisa. I’ll be inside her next! I can eat her slowly from within. I’ll leave her brain for last, so she can savor having her blood drained, her organs chewed, and her bones crunched. I can’t wait! Heh heh heh!”
Desperate to shut him up, I swing the poker wildly, but all it did was make Cardinal’s bald skull about half the size. He was already dead, so this failed to kill him again.
“The boss said your death is set. Just accept it.”
“I’m not dying!”
I yelled, and swung the poker again.
Antonio caught it mid-swing, and shouted,
“It’s your fault Dar died!”
but in Cardinal’s voice. I looked again, and Cardinal’s jaw was hanging open, his tongue out, but his face was toned like a living human, and the light was back in his eyes.
“Jorge Joestar! It’s all your fault! You brought death here! You’re jinxed!”
Cursing me, Cardinal began swinging his arm wildly, still clutching the other end of my poker. I was flung through the air, and when I hit the floor I no longer had a weapon in my hand.
“Now it’s over, Jorge,”
Antonio’s voice returned, laughing.
“Honestly, I never thought the day would come I’d kill you. I’d have laughed if you died, but I just liked seeing you cry and run when you saw me coming. I never really considered actually killing you. Heh heh. But what will be will be. This was our fate all along. It was decided long ago.”
Antonio swung Cardinal’s fist, and sent me flying. Wham! I hit my head hard on the opposite wall, and nearly passed out. For a brief moment I wondered if maybe I’d be better off if I did pass out here. Wouldn’t that be easier? But I shook that thought off. I had Lisa Lisa and Joseph waiting for me. My friends and family, all gathered together in my home. I’d followed the rules of the Church of England and had my banns read out three times. Now the big day was finally here! I had to get back to it!
“Heh heh heh! Well!?”
Thwack! Antonio hit me in the side of the head with the poker he’d stolen from me. My head throbbed, but I ignored it, thinking furiously.
“Resist! C’mon, Jorge! I thought you wanted to fight me! Wasn’t this ‘your turn’?”
Thwack! Cardinal struck me across the back where I lay. But I just kept thinking, didn’t respond at all. There was no way I’d win this in a straight up fist fight. And the excitement of the fight would stop me thinking at all. No point in fighting to lose. Think! How could I survive this? Normally, Lisa Lisa would show up. But she wouldn’t make it in time today. It was the busiest
day for a bride. At this rate I would clearly be dead soon. If I was lay here waiting for Lisa Lisa to come running in her wedding dress, I’d die. No. I couldn’t leave this in her hands. I had to cast out the urge to just wait for her to save me. Don’t make it Lisa Lisa’s job to save your life! But what could I do? I was already half-dead.
“C’mon, c’mon, c’mon! This is boring! God, you’re pathetic, Jorge!”
“Can’t you at least go out like a man!? Or are you gonna die like this!?”
I’m not going to die! But why was I still so convinced of that? Because I thought Tsukumojuku was going to appear out of nowhere and save me again? I did. I mean, he’d said: We’ll meet again, one more time. Cool. Then, could that be now? Come on! But he didn’t. Of course not. There was no sign of him coming at all. No sign…? Fifteen years ago, when Tsukumojuku showed himself at the Motorize Manor, there’d been no ‘signs’ of him coming. So why had he come? He’d said, I’m here to help you. He’d been there for me. He’d come if I needed him.
“Fuck it, then die! Heh heh! Your entire life was a waste! It was a waste of my time ever dealing with someone like you! You’re such a worthless, pathetic fool that your very existence ruins the lives of everyone around you! You should never have been born!”
Tsukumojuku had also said this: Your Beyond is making it happen. Right. He’d talked like that a lot, about the power I had. Beyond. I’d completely forgotten about it again, but I remembered now. I had some sort of god on my side. Believe in Beyond, and you will overcome your fate. I remembered something else, now. Tom Petty’s prophecy. Master Tom Petty went and said something ridiculous about
you dying around the time we get married, Lisa Lisa had said, and her fears had come to pass. I hadn’t imagined it would actually be the day of, but anyway, I was destined to die here. But Tom Petty had said something else. I dunno. Up to you. That’s right, this was up to me. That god may not have made up its mind, either. But if you wish to go on living, you must follow that god. There was no other way. If I was to survive this, I had to put my faith in this Beyond. Okay. Let’s believe. With my head all woozy from the hail of poker thwacks Antonio was unleashing on it.
“Arrghhhhh! You’re this pointless without an airplane? Do you even have a cock!? Been a while, but let’s find out!”
Antonio moved Cardinal’s hand and pulled my trousers and underwear off but I just let him. I couldn’t afford to waste energy resisting. Think. What did believing in Beyond entail? It meant there was an author writing a story with me as the main character. Then come on and save me! I thought, but I know there was a reason why they couldn’t. Once Tsukumojuku had vanished and I was all alone I’d read a lot of novels, so I knew. Stories had plots, they had narrative flow, and you couldn’t have things that didn’t make sense or just showed up out of the blue. I had to create the flow. Beyond existed. That’s why Tsukumojuku had come fifteen years ago. He’d come even though I didn’t believe in Beyond at the time because…I thought about that for a minute, and decided it was to convince me that Beyond existed. And at the same time, teach me how to use Beyond.
“God damn, your ass is pale! Heh heh! Watch it bounce!”
Antonio yelled, hitting me so hard with the poker half my cheek was torn off.
“Just how soft is it!? What’s it made of, gelatin!? Look at it wobble!”
If I used Beyond, Tsukumojuku would come. What I needed was a way to use it. Think.
What narrative would allow him to come? I remember the last thing he’d said to me. The nature of my name suggests that we’ll meet again, one more time. Right. His name? Come to think of it, fifteen years ago he’d said some nonsense about his name. Tsukumojuku. Tsukumojuku is 9, 10, 9, 10, 9. My name has three all-powerful gods linked together by two crosses. The name of God. Right. Because he had the name of God he’d come for me again. But why had it put it like that? What was there to his name? There must be something. There must be a meaning to that ‘all-powerful god’ and ‘cross’. I remembered that I’d borrowed a Japanese dictionary from Tsukumojuku once and flipped through it a bit.
“Argh! Show me your cock! Heh heh heh! What the…that ain’t your cock! What the hell! Grown-up cocks are gross! That’s disgusting! I’m gonna puke!”
Antonio shrieked, and warm vomit splattered down on my exposed crotch. Chewed up bits of William Cardinal’s insides. Japanese characters don’t just symbolize sounds. They also show meaning, and there’s breadth to that meaning. This breadth is why 九 could mean ‘9’ and ‘omnipotent god.’ And why 十 could be ’10’ and a ‘cross’. The shape of the kanji was a metaphorical symbol. In Japanese, you could manipulate that meaning to ‘convey’ that one thing was another. Force open a path, and allow meaning to pass down it. So back to Tsukumojuku. 九十九十九. Him giving me that dictionary when he left felt like the work of Beyond to me. It let me understand. I was extremely glad I’d learned just how broad the meaning of Japanese words could be.
Japanese used kanji. Kanji had several different readings. The kanji 九 had three readings.
The kanji 十had five.
“Far”. Here, far, here, far, here. A name that started ‘here’, went ‘far’ away twice, and then came back.
“Shit! Your dick made me throw up!”
Antonio yelled, and raised the poker, but I’d made it in time. I’d been trying to focus on thinking but I’d been panicking on the inside. Fortunately, I’d done it.
He went far away, and came back twice. After he vanished in America, he’d come back once in the Motorize Manor, and vanished again. So he’d come back once more. Here.
And there he was, still fifteen years old, standing by my side and looking down at me.
“At last you decided to believe in Beyond, Jorge,”
“It took you getting this bloody? You sure are a troublesome protagonist.”
He bent down, and took my shoulders.
“Tsukumojuku Kato!? Why are you still young!?”
He attacked, but his swing met only air.
“We’re not going back to the wedding?”
Tsukumojuku looked sorry.
“You’ve got another role to play. But don’t worry, it’s a role your Beyond prepared for you. Although that doesn’t guarantee it’ll lead to a happy ending.”
“Uh…then what’s the point?”
“Don’t worry! You’ll find the meaning yourself!”
“Oh, come on! So…where are we?”
Tsukumojuku and I were standing in some foreign land. Not anywhere in Europe. I could see a cluster of houses in the distance that were nice-looking, sturdily constructed, but not anything you’d see in Europe. The green crops growing in square-cut, farm-like plots of mud were clearly not wheat.
“This is Japan,”
“A country town called Morioh. Although at the moment, it is floating upside-down in the Pacific.”
I had no idea what that last bit meant, but the rest came as quite a surprise.
“Japanese!? Why are we here!?”
“Because your role is to be played here.”
“Wow, Japan…it’s a beautiful country.”
“Thank you. I believe you’re here to solve a mystery.”
“Hunh? What kind?”
“Murder. I’m the victim. It’s all yours, buddy.”
“……………!? Hunh!? What….”
“Meeting you and being your friend has been an honor. I’m proud of you, Jorge Joestar. The world to come is in your hands!”
And with that, Tsukumojuku vanished into thin air, or I woke from a waking dream. I wasn’t sure which. Either way the instant he was gone the brightly lit Morioh landscape went black as pitch, and I found myself lying on a cold night road, with neither stars nor moon in the sky above. My body was covered in blood from the beating Antonio Torres gave me. My skull was fractured, and chunks of flesh had been torn from my back and ass. I was in a hell of a state. Barely alive, but alive.
Antonio and his Cardinal suit were killed by Lisa Lisa, once she arrived.
Kenton and the other zombies had been abducting and eating neighbors, and the house was filled with leftover bits of flesh and blood, and they found my uniform torn to pieces, so they were all convinced I’d died. Lisa Lisa cried. But not just Lisa Lisa, Penelope was crying too, and furious, so when 920,000 Antonios surrounded Great Britain, Penelope unleashed her fury and created a locked room. The locked room was made from the flying squirrel Antonios hovering over the bluffs, and the giant wall made from torn up bits of them surrounded the whole of Great Britain.
“How dare you! You’ll pay for this! I swear it!”
Penelope screamed, her rage targeting the entire world. It may have looked like the wall made of Antonio was surrounding England, but it wasn’t. Penelope had made a locked room that surrounded all of the world that wasn’t England. The 920,000 Antonios that Penelope fused into a giant wall began to gobble up the world.
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