Chapter 14:

Witch's Spell

66 Hours

As the sound of footsteps gradually gets closer with each passing second, everyone looks on in awe, frozen in place.

I know we should run or just hide, but at this point, coming across whatever is behind those footsteps seems inevitable.

The footsteps echo right around the corner now, and soon…

Two people emerge, donning our school uniform. Their heads turn and they meet our perplexed gaze.

“Here, Akiyama-san, there’s actually more people here!” One of the two students turns and points at us, while we’re still frozen in place. He’s a male student, with short dark brown hair and a pair of black circular glasses.

“Is that you… Abe -kun?” Mayu’s eyes widen as she calls out to the male student.

“Nakajima-san, the class rep?” He replies, with the same kind of perplexion on his face.

It appears that this guy, is our classmate… His face does look familiar but damn, I thought he was just a side character all this time and didn’t even pay attention to him. Truth be told I don’t pay attention to any of my classmates…

Having heaved a sigh of relief we all take a step forward. Next to presumably Abe , there’s a short girl, with black twin tails and striking green eyes.

“Are you both stuck here as well since yesterday?”

No they’re just here on a field trip Mayu.

I can’t help but sigh.

“Yeah, we’ve been here since yesterday right after school… I was convinced we were alone too…” Abe explains.

“We didn’t know there were other students here, either.” Yoko-senpai breaks her silence.

“So, do you know about the keys or…?” I ask, before my classmate nods.

“Yes, we’ve been briefed by, uhm…”

“Mei-san.” Noriko nods, a slight hint of a smile on her face.

Does she consider that ghost a friend or what?

“Well, that’s great, what do you say we join forces, then?” Mayu suggests, her leader smile radiating confidence.

Abe turns back to the short girl beside him, who has kept silent for this whole time, and they both share a nod.

“Sure, I don’t see any reason not to.”

“Great, as you know, I’m Nakajima Mayu.”

“Abe Kazuya.”

“And you?” Mayu turns to the new girl, her expression gentle.

“Uhm, I’m Akiyama Hotaru.” She bows firmly, and respectfully, probably due to her nervousness. She has a sweet, round face and looks younger than us.

I quickly dismiss that thought. We’re on our first year after all.

“She’s from class 2-A. We found each other some time before the night set yesterday.” Abe explains, as Akiyama nods.

Then, the three of them turn to the rest of us.

I guess it’s introduction time…

“Kobayashi Hideki, nice to meet you.” I bow my head slightly, and give way to the rest.

“Himura Noriko, a pleasure to make you’re a-acquaintance.”

Noriko… as stiff as a board, like always.

“Oh, we’re in the same class.” Abe points out, while I and Noriko nod.

I know pal… actually I just found out.

“Ishikawa Yoko.”

“Mochizuki Ayase.”

“No way! Kaichou is here too!” Abe looks clearly surprised as he bows at her. “Look Akiyama-san, it’s the student council president!”

An Ayase fanboy, huh? Figures.

“Kaichou, huh…?” The short girl, cocks her head to the side, an awkward smile on her face.

Wow, there’s actually someone who doesn’t know of the school idol?

“Please, don’t call me that.” Ayase smiles in her usual manner, albeit somewhat dismissively.

“Hey, hey, can I call you Hota-chan?” Mayu turns to the younger of the bunch with a beaming smile.

I guess it was love at first sight.

But Mayu… we’ve got bigger things to worry about now…

“Sure…” The girl replies, before nodding several times.

“Ahhh you’re so cuteee!”

Mayu for the love of God…

Fast forward a few minutes, when Mayu has had her fill of drooling over her new friend, we get down to business.

“Guess what, we just found our first key not too long ago!” Our cheery leader smirks, proud at our handiwork.

“That’s great, we’ve already found one too!” Abe announces excitedly, as he takes out an ornate key, similar to ours.

No way!

Everybody lets out a gasp, as we look on in silent excitement.

Our luck might be finally turning around for good..!

“That’s great, then we only need to search for 2 more.” Noriko voices, in the most cheerful way I’ve ever seen her react.

“That’s amazing! Where did you find it?” Mayu asks the two newcomers.

“It was in a room where the floor had collapsed. I noticed there was still a piece of it intact, and I managed to jump to the other side of the room. There I found a box, with this inside.” Abe explains, as everybody in the room looks down in realization.

“We were in that classroom too… yesterday.” Mayu replies in a somber tone, as if relieving the moment we all want to forget.


He said he found a box, with a key in it… But there wasn’t any box there as far as I remember. Could it have appeared only today?

“Did you happen to hear any sound from below the floor?” Yoko-senpai steps up, unable to stop herself from asking.

“Uhm, no…” Akiyama-san answers, taken aback by her sudden interest.

“We lost a senpai there. One of our group…” I let those words slip out of my mouth as I clench my fist at the bitter memory.

The two newcomers fall silent, unable to form any sort of reply to the horrible news I just conveyed to them. This grim atmosphere serves as a reminder that one of our classmates is dead, and we could very well follow after him if we’re not careful. Just like I had a close brush with death earlier. Just like Yoko-senpai could have died if I hadn’t stepped in.

I wish I could have saved you too, Kurosawa-senpai.

I bitterly think to myself before Mayu breaks the heavy silence. “Anyway we’ve already got two keys, a map of the school that is somewhat useful and our physic, Noriko, that can sense danger!” She gives the both of them a status update. “Noriko’s been helping us keep away from danger with her powers this whole time, she’s really awesome!”

“Powers?” Akiyama-san cocks her head to the side.

“I’ll give you the deets later, first let’s go back to base!” Mayu suggests and a few more question marks pop from Akiyama-san’s head once again.

“Base?” She sounds even more confused than before.

“You’ll just have to wait and see!” Mayu excitedly waves at Noriko, who nods and leads the way. “Oh now that I remember, I have to cross off 2 rooms from my map!” She whispers to herself as the rest of us start following them.

“…And since there’s food here we’ve decided to use it as our base.” Mayu’s explanation finally ends, while everybody walks inside our home base, and takes a look around. Nothing out of the ordinary…

“So you guys should get settled in here, while everybody catches their breath.”

“Woah, this place is like a sanctuary!” Abe voices in awe.

“It feels… cozy in here.” Akiyama-san nods in agreement taking in the sight.

I leave everyone to their business, as I take a seat away from the commotion. The earlier events of the day had left me completely exhausted. And now two new arrivals on the group…

How come we didn’t find them earlier, though?

The school is quite large, that much is true, but everyone was convinced we were alone. It’s only been a day, but we’ve searched far and wide, and we didn’t come across any sign of anyone else being here. But at the end of the day, they are actual people. One of them is our classmate. Mayu confirmed it, so there’s no basis for me to be suspicious. And they even have a key…

Why can’t I shake this nagging feeling? Maybe the school was just playing tricks on us, and kept us apart deliberately. Yeah… that must be it.

What if it’s pitting us against each other? What if we’re just dancing at the palm of its hand? What if… even the safety of our base, is a lie?


Suddenly, I feel a piercing pain throughout my forehead. I rub my temples and rest my back on the chair, as I heave a sigh.

My head hurts like hell…

I reach that very obvious conclusion quite quickly. Just as quickly, I decide to rest my eyes, for just a second…


It will just be a second…



I heave an exasperated sigh. Turns out the culprit for my lack of peace didn’t care for being ignored.

I reluctantly open my eyes, and soon I’m met with Ayase’s face.

“Hey, doofus.”

Doofus, huh? Well that’s a new one.

“What’s with that face?”


“Nothing my a… Come on, just spit it out.” She very respectfully refrained from actually finishing that sentence, I’ll give her at least that much.

After another sigh… “Is this place REALLY safe?” Without giving it much thought, I decide to say what’s on my mind.

“Woah, I didn’t think you were such a pessimist.”

“Sorry… I don’t like raining on everyone’s parade here, but we’re in a school where classrooms can switch spots on a whim. An invisible wall prevents us from leaving and not to mention monsters roam the hallways at night. How can we be sure this place is safe?”

“Well I guess all we can do, is hope for the best. Worrying about things you can’t do anything about, is just a waste of time and resources.” She looks at me, her expression soft and natural. There’s not a hint of her usual mask around.

“I guess you’re right, no point in worrying about things we’ve got no control over.”

“What about the things we DO have control over, though?” Ayase suddenly raises a brow at me.

“Huh?” And now I’m perplexed, having been caught off guard.

“I’m talking about that bravery, back at the trap we encountered. You could have seriously been a goner, you know.”

I guess now that we’re kinda alone, she can give me a piece of her mind, and her unsuppressed emotions. Her back is facing the rest of the group, so she can give me all the weird expressions she’s been holding back ‘till now.

“I know…” I sigh momentarily.

“Do you really? What about that weird trance you were in? What if…” The girl in front of me bites her lower lip, as she thinks back to the event.

Is Ayase-san worried about me? So much so that she got angry?

Suddenly, I feel myself smiling a little.

“You’re right. I was reckless. Thanks for pulling me out of it too, Ayase-san.”

“Hmph! I was just checking if you had a loose screw or something…”

“And for worrying about me. Thank you, Ayase-san.”


That must have caught her off guard, as her cheeks take on a slightly rosy color.

Please tell me she’s gonna pout. Please God…

“Yeah, I was worried about you… any complaints, huh?! Tell them to my face!” Ayase finally pouts, and glares at me at the same time. There it is! Though, I’ve never seen a girl pout and simultaneously threaten someone.

My smile grows wider, as I tilt my head back in content.

“What?” I can feel her glare without even looking. “…What brought all your pessimism on, anyway?”

“No idea. This headache is just too much for my low-end brain.” I reply before closing my eyes for a second. But, when I open them again, I realize Ayase-senpai’s no longer next to me. I heave a sigh of slight disappointment.

Was I rude or something?

I think to myself, before I close my eyes once again and decide to indulge my drowsiness.


Another one of her signature calls. This time I open my eyes faster than ever. When I do, I suddenly gaze up at a glass filled with water and a white tablet slowly dissolving inside.

“Here, this should help.” Ayase-senpai hands it over to me and sits down once again.

And here I thought I drove her away...

“So you’re my nurse now?”

“Shut up and drink.” She hisses at me, her angelic expression disappearing in a flash once again.

“Why do you bother keeping up this act, even now?” I blurt out, eager to learn her reasoning behind her persona. Ayase widens her eyes at me, a puzzled expression on her face. “I mean that whole ‘I’m kind, caring and perfect thing.”

Did I go too far? Did I dug in too deep?

For a moment I’m certain she’ll snap at me for asking something so personal. I’m certain that I’ll either be dismissed, or struck back with, “it’s none of your business!” but to my surprise… Ayase-san just hangs her head. A brief silence falls upon the two of us, neither dares to break it.

Why do I want to know so badly?

I contemplate on my curiosity before she finally speaks up.

“This is me. This is who I have to be. I can’t be anything else.” Her voice comes off as soft, almost desperate. “…This is me.”

For a moment, I’m left speechless, unable to find the right words. “Why?” I blurt out once again, this time my voice is as low as hers.

“Not yet…I…” Her voice this time, is barely a whisper.

“Sorry, I got carried away there.”

I decide I’ve gone too far with pressuring her. After all, I have my own past that I don’t want anyone digging up.

I reassuringly touch her shoulder, and give her a small but gentle smile. When she raises her head to looks at me, I can feel myself suddenly growing conscious of her gaze. It feels warm, as her blue eyes stare through mine, in an oh-so-tempting way. Behind that deep blue, I can see everything she is. Everything Ayase feels…

Hold it right there!

What the hell am I doing?!

I finally realize how long we’ve been looking at each other, and I instinctively look away.

“Anyway…” I say, clearing my throat. In an attempt to clear the tension between us, I look down at the glass resting in my hands. Without a second thought, I raise it and chug it down in a flash. Then…


Why did I mistake that for water?!

I immediately regret doing that, as I make a grossed-out face and throw my tongue out in reflex. “Bleergh! You trynna poison me or something?!”


In response, Ayase just bursts out laughing right in my face.

“Why are you laughing!? Man, I need water!” I cry out, the bitterness of the med still lingering on my tongue.

“Ahh… here… here.” She hands me a bottle of water, in between her evil snickers.

I gulp it down with zero ms delay. “Ahh, now that’s better!”

“And you tried to act cool and all…” Ayase has barely managed to recover, as she wipes a tear from her eye, her smile wider than ever…

Yeah, a sincere smile looks way better on her.

I think to myself as I look at her amused face.

“What?” She suddenly voices, having caught me staring.

“Nothing, I just thought that this thing tastes like a dirty sock…” I masterfully change the subject.

“You’ve never heard of paracetamol before, have you?”

“Para what? Is it like a painkiller of some sort?”

“Beep, beep, Bingoo!” She winks, imitating the voice of an idol on TV.

And just like that, as if it was by magic, my foul mood and headache, are long gone.

Magic… as if I were being put under a spell. Her spell.

What has gotten into me?

Haru Yumera