Chapter 1:

The Psychology Club

Crimson Core

Spark.Bookmark here

[Spark] is a key ingredient that forms everyday endeavours of all living beings. It is the fuel of ambitions to some, and a core part of existence to others.Bookmark here

[Spark] is a self-redefining mechanism, a heart if you will, that is powered by a resource called Mana.Bookmark here

Everything that breathes consumes Mana that is carefully generated in order to survive, reproduce and wither when the time comes.Bookmark here

Although every living being possess it, the power of [Spark] inside humans is so immense, it materializes a [World Within] inside of any person after a single utter of words “I should”, “I can”, and most importantly “I will.”Bookmark here

This is a story of people who used their “I will” in order to rejuvenate a Spark inside others.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

The rays of sun broke violently through the window of a tiny apartment room just to end up on boy’s face, bathing him in cold sweat.Bookmark here

“Wow, it’s actually morning,” boy placed his hands behind his head and stretched.Bookmark here

He had gotten out of bed like a wounded soldier before his mind attempted to collapse into oblivion. Shirt, pants and socks were scattered around his room so he would have to collect all the important pieces before leaving his room.Bookmark here

“Shiki, honey!”Bookmark here

Scrappy female voice came from the other room followed by a series of heavy, drawn-out steps that were nearing closer to Shiki’s bedroom. Bookmark here

“Are you dressed up? Can I come in?”Bookmark here

Shiki gave his body a quick examination just to make sure that all the pieces he collected around the room are on the right spot and gave a woman fast reply.Bookmark here

“Sure, come in.”Bookmark here

Few moments later, a tiny grandma opened a door while carefully holding a handle, as if she would break down if she lets go of it, and looked at Shiki with a faint smile.Bookmark here

“Good boy, you wake up so early,” said grandma.Bookmark here

Shiki chased sheep all night long so his energy level was not on an all time high, therefore he kept his look between sneakers. Grandma wasn’t impressed by that so she energetically plucked out her chest as if she went back to her thirties.Bookmark here

“You’re already seven million times more dependable than that father of yours so be proud of yourself and hold your head high!” Bookmark here

Shiki thought he was used to these sudden bursts from his grandma since he already spent couple of hot summer months in an apartment with her, but she always managed to go beyond his expectations. He corrected his posture like an army soldier and replied with stuttering “Yes ma’am!”Bookmark here

Grandma shook her crackly head in an agreeable manner and waited for a chance when Shiki was leaving the room to slap his behind and finished with a short piercing command.Bookmark here

“Now go out there and don’t come back without my great-grandchild.”Bookmark here

Grandma chuckled while Shiki was running down the apartment building.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

“I swear I have no idea how to deal with her,” Shiki sighed while walking down the street of Zarconia City.Bookmark here

City itself was not too big and not too small so basically everyone was familiar with everyone which spelled bad news for Shiki. Gossips became part of his daily life. He moved out from his hometown three months ago and started living with his grandparents. During the summer, his grandpa unfortunately passed away so it was his job to take care of grandma.Bookmark here

“Sigh...these bastards still hurt like hell.”Bookmark here

Shiki played with his fingers while passing by the stores. Callouses on his fingers still hurt from preparing meals for his commanding grandma because she would always yell at him not to expect a woman will cook for him. Luckily, all those trips to the stores bore fruit for him cause he familiarized himself with these streets as well as the shop owners and their wives and their lovers and so on and so forth, as if he was one of their own. Bookmark here

“Morning young man! New batch of fruit has just arrived.”Bookmark here

“Hey Shiki! Is that commando still alive?”Bookmark here

“Hey Sheekz, wanna buy Snitcher 3? I’ll give you a discount!”Bookmark here

Voices were coming from every direction, and the only thing Shiki could do is just smile and wave like a model on a beauty pageant. Biggest obstacle he had to face now is the school. Sure, he was interacting with older working-class, but ever since he moved out he hasn’t mingled with people of his age group.
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Main reason he lost the battle with sleep last night was that he kept thinking about all the various scenarios and topics a boy his age would have with his peers without sounding awkward. The fact that he was transferring at the beginning of their 3rd year of high school didn’t do him any favors.Bookmark here

“Will I be only a bother to other social groups?”Bookmark here

“Should I just sit in a corner till college?”Bookmark here

“Do I even have a right to impose myself on others?”Bookmark here

Many thoughts rushed through Shiki’s mind while waiting for the lights to turn green. Bookmark here

He clutched his fingers forgetting about the callouses.Bookmark here

His breaths became heavy.Bookmark here

Sweat oozed down his chin and for a mere moment he dismissed his surroundings.Bookmark here

Endless thoughts culminated into a sudden void of emotions that engulfed him.Bookmark here

All the colors of nearby trees, flowers and cars paled and withered.Bookmark here

Shiki stood in the middle of nothing.Bookmark here

Thin red strings of web-like cloth slowly emerged beneath his feet and began to envelop him into a human-sized cocoon.
They waved on a morning breeze, controlled by an invisible force.
Both his hands and feet didn’t move an inch as if they made peace with their faith.
At first he followed them as if he was the one knitting the web, but soon after, he relaxed completely and let himself go.Bookmark here

Strings have almost finished capturing him inside the cocoon.Bookmark here

His brown eyes rebelled on time from the shackles of his mind and inconspicuously moved towards the sky when the muffled sound of thunder somewhere in the distance caught his attention.Bookmark here

Thought of a coming storm woke his body from paralyzes and left him wondering about a sound of thunder on a blue morning sky.
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Did I accidentally fall asleep? he wondered as he frantically moved his head left and right.Bookmark here

“Guess my mind got better of me.”Bookmark here

Shiki exhaled heavily while swiping the sweat with a napkin he found in his left pocket and crossed the street.Bookmark here

“...”Bookmark here

After fully recovering from that strange occasion, Shiki found himself in front of his new school- Bohr Academy.
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Academy was nothing to be smirked at.Bookmark here

It’s a tall building surrounded with six giant pillars covered entirely in glass which Shiki immediately dissed as being “too bothersome to clean” while gulping down the flashbacks of every apartment cleaning from last few months. Lines of cherry trees near the building gave a grandiose finish to complete scenery, so Shiki wasted more time than he should have on absorbing the atmosphere before entering the school grounds.Bookmark here

Both male and female students passed by him and nobody seemed to be bothered by his stiff presence until a minute later a boy dressed in beige suit approached him.Bookmark here

“I bet you think to yourself, whose idea were the pillarse?”Bookmark here

Shiki let out a small nervous laugh. Bookmark here

“You’re the new guy, reight?”Bookmark here

Shiki couldn’t believe that someone would come straight at him out of nowhere. He practiced these type of answers the entire night, no, perhaps all these months.Bookmark here

“Schiggy!” he yelled while looking at boy’s unusual attire.Bookmark here

“Amazing! I bet you like to drink lots of wotter!” boy chuckled.Bookmark here

“Anyway, welcome to our lovely acathemy!”Bookmark here

Boy gave Shiki a tap on a shoulder.Bookmark here

Couple of students had walked by them, greeting the rowdy boy with unnecessary comments like “Nice suit Omi”, and “You tell him Omi,” before they grabbed him and disappeared into the school.Bookmark here

“Ah,this went well I guess.”Bookmark here

Shiki was still puzzled about what just took place before his worried self but put his courage before him and decided to enter the giant building.Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

He barely prepared himself for all the commotion that will bombard him as soon as he steps into the academy, but to his surprise not a single person was nearby.Bookmark here

“Excuse me, hello?” Bookmark here

Shiki asked upon entering nearest classroom but not a single student or personnel could be seen. Panic reached his senses convincing him that yet another inner turmoil is twisting his reality. With each door he opened, his patience grew shorter. Upon checking the entire first floor, he decided to try his luck on the second floor. Bookmark here

He stood before the giant glassed staircase which led to a wooden board on top, filled with various club pamphlets and posters.Bookmark here

“Psychology Club.”Bookmark here

The only pamphlet whose letters weren’t completely smeared and unrecognizable. Shiki grabbed the pamphlet and noticed a blank area where a signature was needed. Bookmark here

“Maybe they can help me,” he jested as his facial complexion was slowly softeningBookmark here

“!”Bookmark here

Familiar muffled sound of a distant thunder caught his ear so he quickly went up even more transparent stairs that seemingly led to heavens. The second floor had even more light than the first one. Huge number of curtainless windows followed the boy as he made his way through the long corridor.Bookmark here

He frantically checked each classroom as sound began to grow stronger.Bookmark here

“I won’t stop moving,” a single line echoed through his entire body.Bookmark here

Numbers on classroom doors melted into mere scrabble so amusing that drew a smile on his face. Paintings on the right side of the corridor walls showed all kinds of fruit, from plain to the exotic. For some reason, he hadn’t felt this happy in years.Bookmark here

“Found you”Bookmark here

The sound that was coming from this particular classroom was by far more intensive. Shiki slowly opened the door and finally found the source of humming. Hum turned into words that formed a sentence which came from the mouth of a tall raven-haired girl.Bookmark here

“Good job, Kappa.”Bookmark here

She stood proudly with slender hands resting on her hips. Sunshine highlighted her amber eyes that glowed behind her dark hair like a treasure inside of a waterfall.Bookmark here

“Huh?”Bookmark here

Boy planted his feet on a single place. Girl’s expression didn’t waver a single bit, in fact, she was so into character that she repeated her remark yet again.Bookmark here

“Good job, Kappa!”Bookmark here

This time her announcement was even louder and it resulted in awkward laughter from Shiki.Bookmark here

“What is going on here?” He barely managed to glue the words together and form a question.Bookmark here

Girl blushed a bit and ignored his reaction. Few strands of hair dropped over her nose and she puffed embarrassingly to remove them.Bookmark here

“Simulation over!” she announced by clapping her hands three times.Bookmark here

At that point the entire room shattered in form of glass around them which startled Shiki beyond belief, while desperately trying to evade moving pieces around them. Girl stood composed with her look concentrated on the Shiki’s face and before they know it, all the pieces got back together and formed a completely new room.Bookmark here

“Welcome to the Saiko club Kap!” a familiar voice greeted him.Bookmark here

It was the boy in a beige suit, sitting on the chair below him.Bookmark here

“I’m Omi by the whey,” said the boy.Bookmark here

Shiki let out a small screech cause he found himself standing on the top of the desk in the middle of what seems to be a club room, but somehow managed to say hi while climbing down. Girl was sitting across them with legs on the table and a giant pink bubble gum stretching to every corner of her mouth. She was a really pretty twin-tailed blonde girl with emerald eyes that radiated with typical yankee attitude.Bookmark here

“Hey hottie, name’s Ume which is short from Umeko. It means “patient”,which I won’t be if you keep starin’ at me with that creepy smile, got it?”Bookmark here

Girl made her baloon gum explode with her tongue.Bookmark here

“She also likes plums,” chuckled Omi and continued, “she recently watched certain “bath flick” so she is toadally into….”Bookmark here

Omi couldn’t even finish the sentence, Ume sent a pen flying few millimeters from his head that hit the plant behind. This was obviously their daily interaction since Omi didn’t even flinch. Raven-haired girl cleared her throat loudly so everyone focused on her.Bookmark here

“Kappa, you might be wondering what is going on here.”Bookmark here

She finished her line by taking a deep breath, which reminded Shiki of his grandma so he was prepared for a loud one.Bookmark here

“This is a special psychology club whose primal goal is to help students who are willing to ask”Bookmark here

That seemed like an average description for a club to Shiki but it didn’t explain nothing at hand.Bookmark here

“Empty school, exploding room….?” Bookmark here

Shiki started to exhaust words that didn’t really form a basic sentenceBookmark here

“It is not a trick. We entered your [World Within] in which we helped you find us, because you wanted to be found.”Bookmark here

Girl announced as wind blew the white curtains behind her back.Bookmark here

“Oh OK, that makes perfect sense” Bookmark here

Single line put the entire room on their knees.Bookmark here

“I need a nap.”Bookmark here

Shiki’s eyes rolled out and he passed out. Club members jumped from their seats and yelled Shiki’s name….Bookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

Light rain tapped over the rooftops of houses.Bookmark here

Sound of tires was the loudest thing in the world.Bookmark here

Barely visible flashes inside of clouds seemed unintrusive.Bookmark here

Boy looked through the window with a cup of tea in hand.Bookmark here

Mobile phone with loads of sent texts in other.Bookmark here

Scattered papers with unanswered math problems on desk.Bookmark here

Unexpected flash of lightning filled the room.Bookmark here

Tea spilled on the floorBookmark here

Mobile phone engraved itself in his handBookmark here

“…”Bookmark here

“Oh, good morning sunshine.”Bookmark here

Tall slender woman with long wavy platinum blonde hair greeted Shiki. Her pale hazel eyes carefully watched the flame on a cigarette she was trying to lit. She was dressed in a lab coat. Shiki tried to comprehend what happened but couldn’t help himself but to be mesmerized by her appearance.Bookmark here

“Morning…” he muttered.Bookmark here

“Every time the psychology club finds a new member, Ren outdo herself and puts up a show that always ends up in an infirmary.” Woman laughed like no tomorrow.Bookmark here

“By the way, I am Cyn. I’m school’s nurse and the psychology club advisor.”Bookmark here

Cyn introduced herself the old-fashioned way by slightly opening her lab coat followed by a gentle bow. Shiki moved his head in confirmation without saying a word. Cyn grabbed a chair and sat next to bed where Shiki was lying.Bookmark here

“First things first, from now on you are Kappa. Every member of a Psychology Club gets a new name out of convenience.”Bookmark here

Shiki followed Cyn’s thin lips that revealed pearly white teeth.Bookmark here

“Extremely long story short, you have an ability to help your colleagues in the most special way possible-by entering the emotional worlds they create and stabilize them as much as you can.”Bookmark here

Cyn exhausted a large breath as she tried to ease the confusion in Shiki’s eyes.Bookmark here

“So I guess that wasn’t a dream..” Shiki said while staring at the wall.Bookmark here

“Don’t worry. Ren and other club members will guide you step by step when the time comes.”Bookmark here

Cyn awarded Shiki with a gentle smile that suited her face perfectly.Bookmark here

“Do I have to do that?” he asked.Bookmark here

“That is the answer you will have to find yourself.”Bookmark here

She scratched her knee with short black nails.Bookmark here

“Just remember how you felt when you traversed your own [World Within] few hours ago, and I guess that will be a good starting point.”Bookmark here

Cyn finished smoking the cigarette and threw it in a trash bin then stood up and walked slowly to the exit.Bookmark here

“If you didn’t like a single word I said, just exit the room and lead a normal high school life.”Bookmark here

Cyn left the room.Bookmark here

The smell of her soft fruity perfume combined with smoke from a cigarette still lingered in an infirmary.Bookmark here

“World within...huh”Bookmark here

Shiki looked at the pure white ceiling, trying to connect wandering dots inside his head.Bookmark here

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You can resume reading from this paragraph.