Chapter 1:

1.0 - Ms. Sakura

Strangers Club

Glaring directly at me with no intent of averting her speculative eyes, my homeroom teacher had once again compelled me to join her in the teachers’ staff room after the school day had ended. I already knew what was coming and there was no way of stopping the inevitable, imminent question she was ready to smash line-drive at me.

“So, Kole. Have you thought about joining any clubs?”

Day after day it was the same excruciating question all over again. And even though I’ve clearly declined her insinuations many times over, it seems she’s simply another stubborn personality I have to deal with for the time being. I will say her vitality and commitment is through the roof, though. There were only few to compare with this level of gut-wrenching irritation on my daily schedule of high-school life. The worst part about this whole situation is the fact that her motives were an unclear, absurd, nonsensical mess.

“You should already know the answer to that, but I don’t understand. There are hundreds of other students you could be lecturing about their grades or whatnot, but you decide that it’s more important to talk with me about inconsequential matters.”

It didn’t make any sense to me. At first I thought that perhaps she did this to every relatively new student uninterested in joining clubs, but as time went on, she seemingly had nothing better to do with her free time but utterly waste my own. School is a very time and energy-consuming place in all senses of the words. Acknowledging that school-bound clubs are supposed to improve my school life and future in society would never resonate with me. There is no fundamental reason I should have to volunteer my body and mind to a club when there are more important matters at stake. Slumber, for example; a good night's rest is all that's needed to get through the day. A rather uncomplicated reason for most to understand, but not her.

“Aww, why not? You could easily accompany just about any club you would want to. Academic. Sports. You would fit perfectly into any club you’d want! The act of joining a club could lead to limitless opportunities and achievements if you put your mind to it! You might even make some close friends along the way!”

I could detect the fragrance of a flower-like perfume she sported as she adjusted in her chair. It wasn’t a specific scent, but rather a noticeably sweet aroma emitting from her proximity. It wouldn’t be very hard to figure out why most of the guys who’ve come to know her have been completely raptured by her outside individual. Cordial, friendly, and considerate were just a few to name her considerably “good” traits. The outside shell of the teacher named Laru Sakura was no different.

Long, dark violet hair flowed past her shoulders as it visibly stood out in contrast with the pure white teacher-blouse she donned. Along with her hair also came striking, radiant currant-colored eyes -- a darkish-brown color, with a slight hint of deep red in them. They were the same eyes that stared me down day after day in the same daunting position. I couldn’t say curiosity filled them, but rather, infatuation, to put it subtly. Also, completing the array of alluring traits she possessed, was none other than her ideal architectural appearance. Rather, noteworthy in all the notable places, I should say.

Anyway, even if I were to join a club, there’s no way I’d find any bona fide enjoyment out of it. I mean, from what I understand, that is the main goal; to find a hobby you’re interested in and have fun with your friends. But, uninterestingly enough, my hobbies are ever so limited to sleeping for the most part. Perhaps I have other things I could or should be doing in my free time like anyone else, but my way of life is how I like it. Change is merely an unnecessary action.

“Ah, I remember when I was a part of a club back in the day. At first, I didn’t believe I’d enjoy it very much, but I ended up liking it much more than I possibly could have imagined!”

“So, let me get this straight. When you were a part of a club, who knows how far back, you ended up liking it so much you stayed?”

“Yep…” Her eyes narrowed as she doubtlessly knew what was coming next.

“And after the long journey of Ms. Sakura’s life and her club adventures, you find yourself here, in the last place anyone would possibly want to be, lecturing someone completely opposed to the idea that they’d rather be sleeping.”

She let out a long sigh and put a hand on her temple, her inner-shell coming forth. “If you’re going to be sarcastic, then I expect the climax to be at least somewhat witty. It was progressing strongly up until the end, just like a promising paperback with a disappointing ending.”

“Oh, are you referencing the biography The Life and Adventures of Ms. Sakura, written by Laru Sakura herself? I’m so glad you understood the innuendo, Ms. Sakura! I knew we were connected on a deep level, but not on one this profound. It’s truly astonishing--!”

Her silence abruptly cut me off as both of her hands were curled into fists laying on her desk side by side. She was also staring down at her desk, too, which made it even more frightening. I’d used heavy forms of sarcasm in our after-school discussions prior, but none ever got a reaction like that. It looked as if maroon flames were going to erupt from her body, but before that happened, she serenely organized and picked up a couple of papers off of her desk.

“That’s it! If you don’t find a club by tomorrow, I’m picking one for you!” She stood up, the papers composed neatly in her grasps.

“I’m sure you’re aware that clubs aren’t a requirement at this school.”

“Sure I am, but what does that have to do with anything? Graduating is also a requirement to complete this level of schooling as well, you know. ”

This teacher really was the epitome of evil. As if living your life as a school teacher wasn’t bad enough, she even feels the need to bully the ones who oppose her! Imagine what ways your life would have had to develop in order to turn out that way! If this was another instance of a mental trauma induced by a club’s doing, then I want no part of that horrifying future!

If not some kind of demon, she was definitely something along those lines. A succubus would actually make sense -- she did have the features, definitely. Not that my eyes were intentionally traversing her whole form while she stood before me, or anything.

It had only been a couple of weeks since I’d transferred to this school, and it was boring, as expected. But, the relationship Ms. Sakura and I had established was quite strange. It was almost as if our auras completely despised each other, but for some reason, we didn’t completely repel each other either. It was only one of the few things I couldn’t discern about my new life after moving to this town.

“You should know that I heavily dislike threats.”

“That’s a weird thought, I would never threaten a student! I was only stating the facts of the matter. It is my job, after all.” After a horrendous attempt at intimidating me, she headed towards the door. “Hmm, I’ll give you till the end of the school day tomorrow to tell me which club you intend to join.”

“Hey! Was that a joke? What’s your objective here? And what if I ignore your intimidation tactics?”

She looked back with a daunting smile before leaving the room, “Your intolerance will have consequences, Kole. I certainly hope you won’t discount your beloved teacher Ms. Sakura’s wise words of wisdom. Anyway, have a great evening!”

The dainty wave she left me with released a wave of unease dispersing into the air. She was… serious...

Her demeanor was frightfully straightforward this time around, contrasting previous exchanges. Perhaps she was finally getting tired of my deliberate banter and decided to leave on a “high-note” for her standards. But, her words did leave an irritable feeling in my stomach for the most part. She most definitely wasn’t the smartest teacher I’d known, but I doubt even she would say something she didn’t mean truthfully, especially when she was the one who put herself in that position in the first place. Ms. Sakura spouting hollow words were barely even a thought. She was up to something sinister, and my options were limited.

As much as I wanted to simply ignore her, if I didn’t at least scout out potential clubs, she’d undoubtedly dish out a price for my undesirable actions. And the more I shook off her threats, the deadlier her punishment would turn out. Besides, avoiding this would only cause more complications for me, and that was the last thing I wanted in my bowl.

This high school is far from where I’d attended lower-leveled schooling in the past. Very far, actually; but, for me and my personal desires, it was all the same. As long as I had the things I needed to do my bidding, the world around me shouldn't make too much of an impact on my life. That’s where Ms. Sakura comes into the picture, doing her very best to convolute my life as much as she possibly can.

I soon exited the teachers’ lounge when a huge rush of drowsiness exerted throughout my body. There it was again. I knew this new arrangement would be a disaster.

I traveled down the main hallway of the school, glimpsing at students still hanging around after the final bell had rung for the day. Whether they were sticking around for club purposes or not wasn’t inside my boundary of judging them on their actions. If they were using their talents for further advancing their skills like a sports club, there was no purpose in being adverse about that. Clubs aren’t necessarily a bad thing, they’re just rather tedious, and that time could be used to do even greater, more proficient things. And even now, as my future as a high school student could be on the line with this decision, there were more important matters at stake in this period in time. This wasn’t a stubborn performance, but simply a steadfast one.

I only wonder what consequences await in my future.

What was Ms. Sakura truly capable of?

Joe Gold