I didn’t even know her name. All I knew was that I killed her. She even asked for my help but instead I killed her by my own uselessness. The people who had arrived a while ago were from DNPI. The man who shot her was leaning against a wall. I was crouching again, like I always do, not far from him. We were outside. I was not allowed to make any further contact with the victim. He kept his distance too. We had met before on the rooftop of the DNPI’s trainee building.
“How long will you sit around and be all sad?”
I wiped off my tears and looked over to him. He had one hand in his trousers’ pocket and in the other hand he was holding his gun. His eyes were fixated on it.
“How can you say that when you just killed her?”
I immediately covered my mouth with my hands and stood up. That’s not what I meant to say but it came out so easily. He didn’t say anything back and instead answered with an unconcerned smile. It made me even more angry.
“I’ll take what I just said back because I was the one who killed her, but you better wipe off that smile from your face.”
I didn’t mean to shout but I was shouting at him. My voice was shaky.
“You’re the new Rookie, aren’t you? You sure you want to do this job?”
I was taken aback by his sudden question.
“It has nothing to do with you. And even if I do become an Outliner, I’m not going to be like you.”
I grabbed my blazer and turned around. He was pissing me off.
“What does it mean to save someone? It means to rescue someone. That also means ending their suffering. Not everyone can do that because only the strong ones have the privilege of saving others. Be it in wealth or physical power. Be it an unbreakable heart or a limitless mind. You need to be strong to help others and to not lose yourself during the battle.”
“Hmph. And you’re strong, I guess?”
I stomped my foot on the ground. I was getting more and more frustrated.
“Yes, I am. Too many of us prefer to ignore Inliners.”
“The ones who fail to control their attributes. The host, at all times, should not be overtaken by its Paroxys. The power and pressure are too much for the human body to handle, so they burst and shatter. If that comes into reality, all you can do is to end their suffering. But like I said not all are willing to do it, just like you tried to stop me.”
The sky was slowly filling with grey clouds. It started to rain. He walked over to a building to get cover. I didn’t move. The cold raindrops felt good on my hot skin. It would cool me down. I felt stupid. I wanted to run away. I didn’t know anything about anything.
“Maybe you’re right. Maybe I shouldn’t get involved with this.”
“I’m not the right person to say this but everyone will vanish from this world one day. The people you love. The people you hate. The people who are complete strangers to you. And you as well. But you have a choice on which path you want to walk on and what goals await you in the end, as long as you are living. As long as your heart pumps blood and your lungs fill with air. As long as time allows you. As long as you are alive. Never hesitate. Be brave and look forward with your head held high. Take the first step and don’t look back. We owe the ones that have vanished. And, I know that it’s not really morally correct to weigh one life to another but if someone was killed because of you or you couldn’t save someone, try and save another ten. Maybe that way you’ll accept this cruel world.”
He walked away and disappeared in the rain. I was all alone. My mind was set. I took out my phone and dialled Toshiko’s number. My mom would probably not be happy with my decision, but I was determined to do it. Toshiko told me to wait for her at my house. She was going to come over anyway because of what had happened at my school. I was allowed to go home earlier. My mom was still at work and Yuuma at elementary school. It was only me and Toshiko in our apartment. At first, I thought that it might be for the best, but I quickly changed my mind.
“Toshiko, stop. I can’t breathe.”
She released me from the headlock.
“Do you know how worried I was about you?”
She let out a sigh and hugged me.
“No, I’m sorry. I should have come to you. It was probably really scary for you. Not many experience Inliners. And we like to keep it that way.”
I disagreed with her but kept quiet. She took out some papers out of her bag and placed them on the table in front of me. It was the DNPI’s contract to hire new Outliners.
“You sure you want to sign it? We haven’t completed your training yet.”
“Yes, I am. I want to become someone who can help others.”
She handed me a pen and without hesitation I signed the papers.
“Well, the deed is done. I’ll file in your paperwork and put a word in for you about your incomplete training. You should get ready to transfer schools.”
Toshiko blinked several times and then scratched her head.
“Did I forget to tell you about trainees attending a specific school called AoE to get the necessary education to become a fully-fledged Outliner?”
“Yes, yes you have.”
I slapped my forehead. Toshiko just laughed it off.
“How am I going to tell that to my mom?”
“Don’t worry. Everything will work out.”
My transfer happened the next day. It took me an hour to get to my new school. It was in Meguro Ward and to no surprise it was on private land and fenced off. The plot was big and consisted of gardens and buildings, with the main one looking like a globe. I was standing in front of the big gate. The sign next to it read Academy of Emotions, shortened to AoE. Our uniforms were the same clothes I was handed when I first met Toshiko. The only change was that I received a bronze pin in the shape of a brain that I had to wear at all times. I was lost in thoughts. It had been a difficult task to convince my mom and explain why I was doing the transfer. Mamoru wasn’t too happy about it either. I wouldn’t be able to see Charlotte after school anymore. Yuuma got sad that I wouldn’t be able to walk him to school every morning because I would be living in the school’s dormitory. My mind was slowly wandering to a darker place. The image of the girl was burned in my memory. I found out her name later on. It was Kanna.
“You gonna move, or what?”
I ignored the voice and kept staring in space.
“Oi, I’m talking to you.”
Someone gently tapped me on my back with their fist. I didn’t turn my head nor my body. Whoever was talking to me decided to walk past me and stand in front of me, facing me.
“I didn’t hit you that hard for you to be crying.”
It was a guy. He handed me his handkerchief. I touched my cheek with my fingers. They got wet. He was right. I was crying. But why?
Someone else called out to me this time. It was Sayuri who ran over to me. She looked worried.
“Are you okay? What happened?”
She wiped the tears away for me with her handkerchief.
“I’m fine. Just a little bit tired.”
I gave her a smile, but she didn’t seem to believe me. Her facial expression didn’t change. The guy had already left. Sayuri took me by my hand, and we walked over to the main building. I was seeing more and more students as we were getting closer. The cherry blossoms were in full bloom. I was greeted by a man at the school’s reception. Sayuri gave me a hug and left to attend her class. I had seen the man before.
“My name is Yabumi Yasahino. The principal would like to meet you. Follow me.”
He was still wearing those black sunglasses. We took the stairs to get to the highest floor. The bell had already rung. I couldn’t see anyone else besides us. We walked to the end of a long hallway. He opened a big, wooden door and I walked in.
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