“Hey, what are you kids doing here?”
A man donning a formal attire stands right at the entrance of the main school building, looking over at us.
He’s wearing a white shirt with his abdomen slightly protruding from within, a black tie and a black pair of dress pants and dress shoes.
A small, metallic pin is clipped on his shirt’s pocket, with a weird emblem carved on it.
He’s got short black hair and a moustache, and he’s right around my height.
He keeps frowning at us, as he speaks up.
“It’s past lock-time, so I suggest you-“
“How did you get inside?”
I find myself cutting him off, utterly dumbfounded by this turn of events. He doesn’t look like a teacher, as far as I know. And that metallic clip…
He must be that security guard Kurosawa-senpai was talking about!
“How did I get inside? Through the gate of course.” The man gave me a funny look.
Himura-san and I momentarily shared a look as we walked past the man and towards the gate.
Could the invisible wall really have disappeared?
But that thought, along with the faint hope that had welled up within me, vanished in an instant. Never mind the invisible wall, even the said gate was now closed. Closed shut.
When did that happen?
“It’s closed?” Himura-san muttered inquisitively.
“Hey! Did you close the gate?” The middle-aged man accused, as he spoke up from behind us. It appears he had tailed us, despite telling us to leave.
“Uhm, You were watching us the whole time?” I give him a look, while he furrows his brows, clearly confused.
Soon he walks up to the heavy iron gate, and tries to pull it open.
And of course, his efforts bare no fruit.
Despite the fact that there’s no chain around the handles, the gate won’t even budge an inch, to the point that it makes it feel like it’s fixed in place. Like a theatre prop on a wall.
But what was it about this man? He was able to get inside the standard way, but now he can’t get out?
What the heck is going on?
“Uhm, so mister…”
“…Huh? Me?” He stops pulling at the heavy gate, to the sound of my voice. After wiping the sweat off his brow, he turns back at us.
“Are you a teacher..?” Himura-san tilts her head to the side, looking curious.
“A teacher? No! I’m Tanaka Kentaro. I’m supposed to be the security of this place, but I can’t make out heads or tails of what’s going on.” He gives an honest reply, before heaving an exasperated sigh.
So he’s the security guard after all…
Me and Himura-san introduce ourselves, and try to explain what’s going on to the best of our abilities. We fill him in on the invisible wall, Himura-san’s sixth sense, and we also inform him on the rest of the students still inside the school. Finally, we tell him about the “accident” just a little while ago.
“He… fell? Did you find… a body?” Tanaka-san’s expression turns grim, as he utters those words.
In response, all we can do is shake our heads in denial.
“A hole that big on the 2nd floor, would naturally lead to the one below but…”
“There’s nothing there.”
Himura-san replies before I can.
“Take me there, please.” He looks us straight in the eye, as we nod in agreement, and head back up to the others.
“Hey, you… guys?” Mayu perks up as soon as she sees us, but then turns to give Tanaka-san an inquisitive look. I swear, I almost saw a question mark appear over her head.
“He’s the school’s security guard.”
“His name is Tanaka-san.”
Himura-san and I voice in response to her perplexion.
“Security guard?! Ishikawa-senpai we’re saved!”
Mayu instantly turns to her upperclassman, who, despite her puffy red eyes and scowl, looks to be in much better shape than earlier.
“Security?” She utters in confusion.
“Yeah, I don’t think we’re exactly saved.” I shake my head, while I lead Tanaka-san to the still open classroom. Or at least, what used to be it.
“Oh my God…” He voices in response, pure disbelief written all over his face.
“What do you mean?” Mayu turns to the two of us.
“The gate’s closed, and we can’t open it.”
Mayu starts, in response to Himura-san’s words.
“Tanaka-san managed to get in, but we still can’t get out. We just got a new member to our search party.” I shrug at her, and my heart aches at her crestfallen face.
Ishikawa-senpai just hangs her head in response, as the middle-aged man gapes at the supernatural crater in front of him.
“It just collapsed?” He turned to me yet again.
Unable to form any words, I just nodded, while Ishikawa-senpai clenched her teeth.
“There’s gotta be an explanation to all of this… right?” Tanaka-san gritted as he looked towards all of us. Gazing up at us, one by one.
An explanation? We can only wish.
We had checked the classroom below, and it was perfectly intact. That didn’t even make an ounce of sense, and yet it was true. As true as can be. This hole should be leading there, but it doesn’t. It doesn’t lead anywhere. It doesn’t make any sense.
Is senpai alive? I seriously doubt it. So, how could there be an explanation…?
Having not received an answer, the grown man turned back desperately to the void before him.
“My God, save us all.”
Turns out, not even a grown-up has an explanation to all the shit that’s happening.
But we couldn’t afford to stay still any longer. We still had to search for anyone left in the school, and that of course meant Mochizuki-senpai too.
After reaffirming our plans, we start moving as a group once again. As we walk down the empty hallways of the school, I notice that the setting sun has been covered up by black clouds and the warm orange glow has been replaced by a dark shade of grey. Not long after the sun vanishes behind them, I can distinctly hear the sound of droplets of rain against the windows. The sound of rain always used to calm me down, and make me feel at peace. But right now, it only fueled my ever-growing anxiety. The sound of rain, and that of our footsteps echoing through the hall makes the hairs at the back of my neck stand on end.
Everybody was silent, seemingly fighting against their own thoughts.
Was senpai really dead? Was all this some kind of sick joke? Was this rain a fabrication as well?
Senpai. I didn’t know him all that well, but I can’t shake the thought of him falling, away. As each minute went by, the chances of him being alive were surely decreasing. We had tried to find the spot where he could have landed, but it was nigh impossible to even grasp the scale of that pit.
Yet, it didn’t feel right to label him as dead. Death itself was so peculiar. When my father had died, I had this same feeling. How can someone you’ve been talking to, just a few minutes ago, be gone? Forever?
My thoughts, like a runaway train on a lonely track, sped forward, with no destination in mind.
Soon, despite the stillness our silence had brought, surely enough our feet had carried us to the floor where the student council room was.
“Are you sure Mochizuki is still here? Wouldn’t we have seen her by now?” Ishikawa-senpai asks as we walk up the stairs.
“There’s a great chance she’s here. And she might not be the only one as well.” Mayu‘s the one to reply, as she’s the one in the lead. I hang out back, only my subconscious propelling me forward.
“I’m sure there’s an explanation.” Tanaka-san, who’s walking next to Mayu himself, tries to lighten the mood.
As we move closer to our target, I can barely make out a light from inside a room, at the far end of the corridor.
“The lights are on.” Mayu points out before me.
Picking up the pace, our group of 5 makes it to the door.
As it has gotten visibly darker outside we can clearly make out the light shining from the gap underneath the door, and through the small glass panels on the top.
The three girls exchange a couple of looks, as they all turn to Tanaka-san and me.
The adult beside me gulps, eyeing the door warily. To be completely honest, I’m not fond of this turn of events either. The next time we opened a door like that, we lost one of our own…
I hope Mochizuki-senpai is okay…
With that thought serving as fuel, my courage engine roars, propelling my body forward.
“I’ll open it.”
The security guard stops me, his palm resting on my shoulder.
“Hey, it’s just a door.” I shrug, as the girls shift behind me and Tanaka-san furrows his brows.
“Just a door, huh…?”
I gulp, and straighten up. With a quick but stable motion, I knock on the door.
I wait a few seconds, but there’s no response.
“Mochizuki-senpai are you there?”
I continue to wait, but nothing breaks the silence. I can feel my anxiousness rising, and I hesitate. Soon, the gentle rain, turns fierce, now pounding against the windows with greater force.
“I don’t sense any danger.” Himura-san speaks up, in an attempt to reassure me.
Come on! Just open the goddamn door!
I mentally slap myself, and I grip the door handle.
“Mochizuki-senpai, we’re coming in.” I steadily voice, and slide the door open.
As soon as the room is visible, I can make out the student council president, Mochizuki Ayase, sprawled onto the floor, seemingly unconscious. I freeze at the sight for a mere second, but quickly shake the shock away, and rush to her side.
“Hey, Mochizuki-senpai!” I call out, and start shaking her by the shoulder. She has no visible wounds, but a head injury could be possible. Her eyes are closed shut.
Come on, please be okay…
“Hey! Can you hear me?” Just as the others have formed a circle around us I think of checking her pulse. But thankfully she jolts awake, almost like an electricity current had ran through her. Her eyelids flutter, and just as her vision clears out, Mochizuki-senpai turns to me with fear in her eyes, her breathing heavy.
“Senpai! Are you okay?”
“Mochizuki-senpai! What happened?” Mayu kneels next to us, her brows furrowed in concern.
“Did someone assault you?” Tanaka-san deduced, as he looked around and noticed a handful of papers sprawled on the floor.
Despite her scared expression, her breathing started stabilising and her eyes softened.
“Kobayashi-kun..?” She called out my name, before wincing, and bringing her palm on her forehead.
“Are you okay? Want me to help you up?”
“No… I’m okay, it was just…” She stops midway through her sentence, her face contorted in confusion.
“Mochizuki, what happened?” Ishikawa-senpai inquired.
“I was sitting here, writing something down and suddenly…I felt a presence at the door…” As she was recalling the events before she lost consciousness, she suddenly drew a sharp breath. We all froze at her words.
“…She… she appeared.” She finally voiced. Her eyes vacant.
“She?” Himura-san repeated.
“A… presence?” Tanaka-san gulped in response to her words.
Just as Mochizuki-senpai opened her mouth to reply, she came to a sudden halt, as if a switch was flipped. Her gaze wondered to me, and then off behind my head. Then, the distant sound of crackling thunder ensued. It was far away, yet barely near enough for us to hear.
Her eyes suddenly widened. With a trembling breath, she gasped in horror and covered her mouth with her hand.
“Hey it’s okay. It’s just...” Before I can reassure her, I am brought to a stop.
Mochizuki-senpai shakes her head in protest, and raises her free hand to point behind me, towards the door. My breath catches in my throat, as I turn my head towards the entrance, and the others follow suit.
There laid a sight, that will probably haunt me, for the rest of my life. A semi-transparent figure was hovering slightly over the floor, her feet barely above solid ground. Her long dark brown and unkempt hair, cover the majority of her features, albeit giving way to a pair of distant crimson, and bloodshot eyes.
Her mouth is closed shut, her lips forming a thin line. With a slow, but sure movement, she edges towards us. Strangely enough, we’re all frozen in place, unable to move. Then once again, the crackling of thunder. This time louder, stronger. It feels like it’s just outside our doorstep. Next to us. Breathing down our necks.
Every part of my body has ceased motion, save for my rapidly beating heart.
Hey guys! Sorry for the late upload, I’m still within the “next week” timeline though! 😅 I’m still away from base, but I’ll be back late next week so I’ll see you then! Thank you for your understanding and for your patience.
Have a nice weekend everyone!
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