Chapter 2:

The Curious Young One

Where Certainty is an Illusion (Book 1: Uncertainty)

“Yunnie, here you are,” said a voice that suddenly called out to me in the middle of my alone time in my classroom. I raised my gaze from the book I was reading, and there…

“Michal…Wendell.” That’s the name of that person who approached me. He’s my classmate. He is boisterous and has a lot of friends. For some reason, he was a bit overfamiliar with me. He talked to me regularly, which I’m not exactly proud of. But eventually, we became friends.

“Of course, I would be here. It’s my seat, after all.”

Michal laughed it out and leaned his body against the window beside my seat.

He shrugged his shoulders. “As usual, you have no humor. You’re so hopeless.”

I’m not sure whether that was an insult or he said that out of concern. But Michal is just like that. As a member of Altair Academy’s Journalism Guild, he’s not a fan of roundabout conversation.

“Why are you here? Don’t you have a club meeting today?”

“Um, yeah. I’m actually doing my club assignment right now.”

– Are you serious?

He’s just lazing around talking to me.

“If you’re ditching your club, do it somewhere else.”

“No, I told you I’m doing my assignment.”

“What do you mean?”

“Right now, I’m writing a story about the mysterious Decryptor….”

Decryptor? Isn’t that the deviant who remained unidentified by the police? Michal was given such a difficult job despite being a first-year.

“... and right now, I’m looking for suspects.”

Is he for real?

“Wait, Yunnie! You’re kinda suspicious. You’re not your usual self today.”

What is this guy talking about?

For some reason, he led the conversation to something scarily ridiculous.

“You…you must be the cul—GAH!”

Suddenly, a female student approached him and hit him with a book on his head. The girl yelled, “SHUT YOUR MOUTH!”

Michal held his head in pain, “Ouch! That’s too much, Kana! You could’ve split my head open.”

Kanako Hiraoka. She’s one of our classmates and a member of the Journalism Guild like Michal. She’s a very passionate and serious student, but apparently, a little bit violent.

“Shut it! I wouldn’t have done that if you weren’t ditching our club meeting today.”

“Huh? I’m not….”

I knew it!

She, then, turned to me and bowed his head. “I’m sorry, Yuno! He might have bothered you with his nonsense.”

“Ah, don’t worry about it!”

Michal talked back to Kanako in an attempt to taunt her. “You should apologize to me as well. It really—GAH!”

But Kanako responded with another “book slice”. She grabbed Michal on his coat and dragged him out of the classroom, presumably to their club room.

“See ya, Yuno!”

As they left the classroom, I also prepared to leave and go to the library to return the book that I was reading. In my mind, there’s the memory of my short conversation with Michal and the news that broke yesterday evening.

Decryptor? An unidentified criminal. He possesses an unknown ability making his capture difficult.

That story seemed superficial, but that’s the kind of story that thrilled me.

☆ ☆ ☆

I’m Yuno Tomoe, a student of Altair Academy’s Junior High School Department, Class 1-C. I had the natural tendency to be attached to mysteries. Even as a reader of some mystery novels, I pause to ask questions and analyze the information before reading the revelation part of the story.

However, there’s a mystery that I couldn’t ever figure out. That is my own past, as I had lost my memories for some reason. But I grew not bothered by that upon forming new memories. It’s like losing levels in a game upon not saving progress but quickly gaining it again.

Nonetheless, this world is really a mysterious one. I thought that Himalia had the answer to everything. Still, it turned out that it’s not exempted from a universal truth— uncertainty.

Adding the Decryptor case to the mix, what’s left to learn in the world?

“Sigh. Thinking about it made me exhausted.”

It’s already twilight, and most students have returned to their respective dormitories while a few were still out at the busy commercial districts of Himalia.

On the other hand, I was still walking the route toward the school dormitory. After class, I traversed the path to a nearby grocery store to buy some supplies and the ingredients for tonight’s dinner.

“Looks like it’s gonna be an all-vegetable night,” I said while staring at the bag of carrots, mushrooms, potatoes, and a sort of other vegetables. “The dorm supervisor’s not gonna like it.”

At the return home route was the Sylphine Bridge, standing over the river which bears the same name. I paused for a second and crossed my arms on the warm steel railings. Staying there had a perk, which was definitely priceless. From the spot where I was, the view of the sharp-edged sun was evident as it set along the horizon at the seemingly endless stream of Sylphine River. It was bathed with the same tint as the crimson sky and enveloped the city in bloodied red. As it was getting dark, the warmth from earlier started to be replaced by the shivering cold breeze.

“It’s beautiful,” I mumbled as a witness of such a precious sight, but I couldn’t help but get goosebumps from it.

– It’s beautiful and eerie at the same time. I wonder what’s gonna happen.

I don’t know why I had such thoughts.

It’s getting darker. I looked at my smartphone.

[5:54 PM]

I need to go home.

As I glanced toward the direction of the school dormitories, I saw an image of a person. My vision was a bit off from staring at the sunset for a couple of seconds. In a blink of an eye, that person vanished.

Maybe I just imagine that. Now, then…

But as I took a step, something inconceivable paved its way toward me and the unsuspecting city.

I felt like I stepped onto a button and triggered a time stop. Everything froze before my eyes. Everything was immobile, the bullet train, the surveillance drones, the road vehicles, the pedestrians, and the birds—everything except me.

“What’s happening?” That’s all I could say. My eyes were quivering to such a sudden event. Then, I looked at the Himalia Central Tower and saw it disappearing and appearing in succession within a matter of microseconds.

No, not just the tower but everything else. It’s like a glitching hologram.

That strange phenomenon lasted for another few minutes. On the other hand, I remained at that same spot and was left a witness to those things.

Little did I know that it was just a prelude to something more horrendous.

– Everything is collapsing. What is going on?

☆ ☆ ☆