Chapter 0:

Vita Solito

World's Horizon

The school bell rings through the hallways. School has ended for the day. Students all rush out of their classes, either to go for their club activities, going out with some friends or just going home because they don’t have anything else better to do.

“You guys wanna go anywhere now?” asked Aaron, a secondary school student with spiky, brown hair and blue eyes, giving off a very happy demeanor. He is not too tall, rather he is around the average height of the boys in his class.

Behind Aaron was a friend of his, named Liam. They’ve been classmates from childhood. Liam is slightly shorter than Aaron, with straight black hair with bangs that cover his right eye which are both black. He is a rather decent student, usually coming in the top 5 in his class, but he does break the school rules due to him wearing earrings. Despite his looks however, Liam studies very little and barely listens in class but somehow almost always finishes his homework.

“I don’t really feel like it, I just bought a new game too,” he replied.

Aaron looking slightly dejected by this abrupt rejection, replied saying, “Look man, I wanna go out, exams are in a week too, plus we should go study and the library is full by now”. Aaron was right, although for someone who doesn’t actually care about his school grades, this comment seemed rather peculiar. Due to it being right before the exam period, the library is full of students trying to cram their subjects before their exams.

Liam lets out a long sigh, saying, “I guess you’re right, maybe I should go study”.

“So where do you sugges-” said Aaron, only to get cut off by the sound of a very loud yell from across the hallway, saying, “WAIT! GUYS!”. Running up to them is a girl with fair skin, similar to a model’s. She’s wearing the school tracksuit with her shiny, charcoal black hair tied up in a ponytail.

“Where *pant* are you guys *pant* going?” says the girl.

“As I was saying, before Ingrid interrupted me,” said Aaron with a seemingly annoyed tone, “does a café sound good to you guys?”

“Oh, I have an idea!” enthusiastically said Ingrid, “there’s a new café that opened near that old bike shop, the one near the train station.”

“Apparently, it’s called Café Horizons,” said Liam, impressing everyone there, Liam generally doesn’t go out all that much, preferring to stay at home and play video games or watch TV shows.

“Wow, dude, didn’t think you’d know that sort of thing,” said Aaron.

“No, I just searched it up, unlike you guys, I use the internet to search things,” sarcastically replied Liam, “do you guys want me to call Arisa?” Arisa is Liam’s girlfriend; they’ve been dating for slightly over 3 months at this point. Most of the group have more or less accepted the fact, since on occasion they act slightly flirty around the others.

“Sure, but doesn’t she have club today?” Arisa is in a few clubs, but only really is active in one, the school’s photography club. She also has achieved some awards for landscape photography.

“Uh, let me text her first,” said Liam. He pulls out of his sling bag a worn-out, green flip phone. It looks like he got it from his older sister or he bought it second-hand.

“You still using that old thing?” asked Aaron.

“I’ve been thinking of changing it recently, but the model is too old to be able to transfer is all the data, plus it’s going to be a pain to install stuff on a smartphone and it’s way too expensive,” replied Liam.

“Of course he wouldn’t want to delete that data,” said Ingrid, poking fun at Liam, “all his lovely memories with are girlfriend is on it.”

A beep comes from Liam’s phone, it’s probably a notification for the message. They give him a moment to read it.

“She said she has to go meet with a teacher for a bit and she’ll meet us at the entrance,” said Liam, with an awfully obvious grin on his face.

“Alright,” exclaimed Aaron, “in that case, we should head there”. So the group heads to the entrance. Upon arrival, they notice a slender girl, with brown eyes, black hair cut to shoulder length, and holding a camera bag with some keychains from a kid’s TV show she likes, contrasting her cool looks.

“Arisa!” shouted Liam, who is excited to see his girlfriend. Arisa was already waiting there for them, seems like her work, whatever it may be. She started walking towards the group.

“So what did Ms. Kathleen ask you to do?” asked Liam.

“Nothing much really,” replied Arisa, “she just wanted to give me some forms to fill up for a competition I’m joining”. Her manner of speech and demeanor contrasts her looks greatly. This, for some unknown reason, has made her very popular.

“So shall we go?” Aaron asked politely, trying not to ruin the at the moment. That politeness doesn’t translate to his facial expressions however as he seemed quite annoyed, maybe it’s because he had already been rejected by countless girls quite the number of times already.

“Alright, alright, let’s go now,” replied Liam.

So the group made their way outside of the school building. Around this time, it had just turned to spring, so the pathways outside the school was full of petals, making the school grounds look like somewhat of a film set. Their school planted quite an assortment of flowering trees and plants, both on school grounds and just outside the main gate, giving the school a sort of forested feel. Their school is also placed almost right in the center of the city, and quite a busy city too. School ends right around lunch break for most offices, so the road is jammed with cars.

The café they’re going to is quite the far walk, it takes roughly 20 minutes for them to reach which is considerably far for students to walk.

After their long walk, they reach their long-awaited destination. There were bouquets of flowers outside with cards in them, giving the assumption that the shop just opened recently, or that the owner couldn’t be bothered with getting rid of them. The shop exudes a rustic atmosphere at first glance, with walls lined with chestnut brown wooden planks that seem slightly eroded due to wind, and some flowerbeds that were painted white but looks slightly discolored now. The flowerbed has blossoming flowers that really give of the feeling of spring.

Upon entering, they found that the shop’s interior has a very modern approach to furnishing. Using mainly marble counters for the cash register and pastry display, contrasting the dark wooden floorboards. The chair and tables have a retro feel to it, using a modern style while somehow still maintaining the old
designs. The interior walls are painted in white, with the bottom half lined with a slightly lighter shade of wood. It also somehow has a homely feel, and there are cakes and a variety of sweet pastries on display. The place seems to be quite empty with only a table filled, it’s probably because the shop is rather new, out of the way and hidden in an area that most people don’t pass by all that often.

Upon entering the café, a young, handsome man approaches them.

“Hello! My name Oscar, table of four I presume? I recommend sitting over here by the window,” he said, gesturing towards a table. Oscar seems to be quite young, maybe around 30-years-old, wearing a nicely ironed, light gray, long-sleeved shirt, with sleeves folded up to his elbows, also wearing a pair of slightly torn jeans and a black waist apron that has a slight coffee stain on it.

“Yeah, we’ll sit there, thanks,” replied Ingrid, looking very mesmerized by Oscar’s good looks.

The four of them went to their table. It’s a very nicely made table, made of hardwood with barstools, right next to the windows in the shop, right at the front. Oscar walks to the table and passes them 4 menus, saying, “Feel free to call me over when you want to order”. He then walks away and takes a seat on a chair behind the barista counter.

The menu’s listing looks very standard for a café, with the exception of the unusual variety of cakes and pastries. The pricings look very affordable, even for students, and the menu was designed very well. After taking a look at the menu, they call over Oscar.

“Hi, yes, can I have an espresso please?” politely asked Liam.

“Oh, and may have a latte? With less sugar,” asked Arisa.

Oscar then repeats the orders saying, “One espresso and one latte, less sugar, anything you would like to order?”

“Uh, can I have one carrot cake?” said Ingrid.

“Alright, one carrot cake, is that it?” asked Oscar, who’s meticulously writing down the orders on a small notebook.

“Yup,” replied Aaron. He didn’t want to order because he didn’t like coffee and sugar, so this place was really distasteful for him to come to, let alone order drinks. So Oscar walks back behind the counter and starts brewing the coffee.

“So... Anything happened in class today guys?” asked Ingrid, who’s in Class 4-2. The others are all in the same class, that being Class 4-1, so on the occasion something interesting happens in their class, Ingrid would usually feel somewhat left out.

“Nothing much really, Mr. Nicholas got really angry though,” replied Liam.

“What for?” asked Ingrid, who was very curious as so why such a usually calm teacher would get mad.

“Someone…” said Liam, gesturing towards Aaron, “didn’t finish his homework, again.”

“It’s not my fault he gives so much work, it’s the weekend too,” said Aaron, trying to defend himself.

“3 pages isn’t thaaaatt much,” said Arisa.

They talked about anything except their studies until the sun started to set when they finished chatting, completely dismissing the fact that they have exams the week after and forgetting to study.

“And maybe you would work out more,” sarcastically said Ingrid, teasing Liam’s terrible physique.

“Easy for you to say, when was the last time you stayed in school for a whole day?” answered Liam.

“Last week, okay? I attend my classes a decent amount I would say,” said Ingrid. She’s has a certain reputation in the school of her absurd amount of truancy, however the school doesn’t penalize her all too often because not only does she have amazing exam grades consistently, but she also represents her school for track and field events, sometimes even in national level competitions.

While the two were arguing, Aaron was somehow, with all the loud noise around him, studying for his exams.

“Hey, Arisa?” he said, “Do you know how to do this?”. He points at a math question that he should have learnt at the start of the year.

“Check the textbook, it’s all there,” she replied, “also, it’s about time we should leave, shall we?”.

They all get up, Aaron goes and pays. The get their bags and step out the door. They start feeling a slight bit lethargic, and one by one, they slowly fall asleep. Aaron was the last to succumb to what he thought is a drug. As he falls asleep, it looks like the world slowly becomes white, then flickering between black and white.