Chapter 2:

Part 1

Fragile Phantasy

In the midst of the bustling city stood a dilapidated house, so cluttered with technology and machinery that it seemed as though no one had ever bothered to clean it. But beneath the mess lay a secret: an underground passage leading to a laboratory belonging to a man rumored to be crazy. Blueprints and diagrams were scattered as the old man studied them intently. Wires connected to a small hole in the wall, shaped and size like a ring, hummed with electricity as the old man pressed a switch. A strange image appeared on the small hole, and the man exclaimed with excitement, "Please let this be it!"

Peering through the hole, he saw a world filled with people holding fireballs in their hands and huge flying birds used as transportation. Overcome with awe, he shouted, "I was right! There is an another world!" Suddenly, a citywide blackout occurred as the small portal drained all the electricity, burning out and destroying the cables and wires connected to the ring. Breathless, the old man stood in the darkness, still in disbelief of what he had seen. "I need more energy and money to make a bigger portal," he said with determination.

Meanwhile, in the vast forests of the country, surrounded by endless fields, groups of young boys, barely eleven years old, were seen daring to climb steep falls during their vacant period. They crawled up the jagged and rocky mountains, holding onto the sharp edges of the stone. The boys were KC, Ed, Jun, and Ej. KC was the brave and adventurous one, leading the pack with his unshakable spirit. Ed was the mischievous one, always finding ways to tease his friends. Jun, on the other hand, was the timid-looking boy, often scared of heights and the dangers that came with climbing. Ej was the one keeping an eye on everyone and making sure they were safe.

"We should stop this. It's dangerous, and we might get scolded," said Jun, his nose already running with fear.

"Don't worry, Jun. I'm right behind you. I won't let anything happen to you," replied KC, who continued to crawl on.

"Haha, you're such a coward, Jun," teased Ed, behind KC.

"Let's just leave him alone, Ed. We should hurry up, or we might be late. Just be careful in front, Jun," said Ej, at the bottom of the group.

Jun was visibly trembling with fear when he grabbed hold of a slippery rock and suddenly lost his grip. "Help, I'm falling!" shouted Jun. Quickly, KC snatched a vine-like branch around the surrounding roots and threw it near where Jun was about to fall. He caught it just in time and stopped himself from falling. "I told you not to worry," KC smiled.

"Phew, luckily there was a branch. If not, you would have ended up in the hospital, Jun," Ed said.

"I told you it was a bad idea, KC!" said a worried Ej, his voice laced with concern.

KC, however, remained undeterred. "Let's just forget about it. We're almost at the peak. From there, we'll see the falls," he explained, his eyes sparkling with excitement.

With renewed enthusiasm, the four boys helped each other reach the top, where they found a vast array of fruits to eat. The stunning and enormous falls left them speechless by the beauty of their surroundings.

"You know, When my dream of becoming president comes true, I plan on turning this beautiful and serene place into a tourist spot to help boost the local businesses and improve the livelihood of our fellow citizens in this village," KC said with a smile.

EJ interjected, "There he goes again with his unrealistic dreams." But KC remained optimistic and exclaimed, "Okay, let's have some fun!" He leaped into the water and surfed the current using a wooden surf board towards the falls while holding onto a rope tied to a nearby tree to avoid being swept away.

"Let's grab some food," Ed suggested with a hearty chuckle, interrupting the tense silence that had settled among the group.

KC eagerly replied, "Alright, let's eat!" as he passed around the food to his friends. However, the jovial mood was short-lived when EJ checked the time and realized that they only had ten minutes before school started. The gate would close, leaving them late if they didn't make it in time.

"I told you this was a bad idea," EJ lamented anxiously. "We're running out of time, and we still have to climb up. What are we going to do now?"

The group dropped their food, and their faces twisted in panic as they searched frantically for a quick way down.

"We only have eight minutes left, and it will take us twenty minutes to climb down. Why don't we just jump off the falls with a rope tied in our body to speed up the descent and avoid getting hurt?" Ed suggested, trying to find a solution to their problem.

KC's eyes lit up with excitement. "I agree, let's do it!" he exclaimed, but Jun was hesitant. "I don't want to do this. We could die or get injured," he voiced his fears.

EJ was also reluctant, but he knew they didn't have any other choice. "I don't like it either, but we have to do it. Let's go," he said reluctantly.

The group quickly tied long ropes to the cliffs and attached them to their waists and bags. KC noticed Jun's apprehension and decided to give him a pep talk. "Don't worry, we can do this together. I won't let anything happen to you," he reassured him with a confident smile.

After securing the ropes, the group attempted to descend together. "One, two, three!" they shouted as they began their descent. They were only halfway down when Jun suddenly let go of his poorly-tied rope. KC yelled in panic, trying to catch Jun before he hit the rocks. In a split second decision, KC managed to grab Jun's hand, but they both fell onto the rocky ground below.

Thankfully, KC's backpack was caught by their friends, who were holding onto it from the top. This allowed them to be pulled back up to safety from the dangerous fall. Although KC's backpack was torn and ruined, they were all relieved to have made it down the falls safely. Everyone cheered in excitement, relieved to be alive.

"Yahoo!" Ed exclaimed, his relief and elation evident. Ej complained, "We almost fell there. Next time, we shouldn't listen to KC's ideas. They're dangerous." Despite the close call, the group knew that they had faced their fears and emerged stronger and more united than ever.

Jun took a deep breath and let it out slowly, savoring the adrenaline still coursing through his veins. "That was the most thrilling experience I have ever had, and I can honestly say it was also the scariest," he said, his voice shaking a little.

KC, however, couldn't shake off the regret he felt for the ruined backpack he had worked so hard to purchase. "Are you okay, KC?" Ed asked, concerned.

"Yeah, I'm fine. As long as the group had fun, that's all that matters. Although, my stomach is grumbling because we haven't eaten yet," KC replied, his voice tinged with hunger.

"Hey, guys, there are only five minutes left before we get locked out!" Ej reminded them, his voice urgent as he sprinted towards the school gate. "I don't want to get punished by our teacher or the principal again. I'm a regular at their office," Ed said nervously.

The group ran as fast as they could until they encountered a hungry dog that had broken free from its leash. Ej was too tired to run, and the dog was getting closer. KC quickly stepped in and whacked the dog with his thick notebook, but the dog wasn't giving up. The group continued running towards the gate, with KC staying behind to fend off the dog.

"Go ahead, I'll catch up later," KC told them as they ran towards the gate. "Be careful!" Ej replied, still out of breath.

The dog had made another attempt to attack KC, but he knew how to handle it. "You want some food? I have plenty," KC offered, tossing his papers to the ravenous canine as he dashed away.

As the dog gnawed on the scraps, KC made it to the gate. With only one minute remaining, he was cutting it close. But to his dismay, the guard suddenly slammed the gate shut, preventing his entry.

"Excuse me, why did you do that? I still have one more minute," KC inquired of the guard.

"I don't care. You're late," the guard sneered. This guard was always belittled in their area, having only completed grade 2 and cannot even read. So he targeted KC, knowing he wouldn't fight back and releasing his frustration on him.

KC was brought to the classroom, his head hung low in shame. He knew he had misbehaved and that punishment awaited him. The teacher, a fat and grumpy old lady, greeted him with a scowl on her face.

"I'm not surprised to see you here again," she said, her voice tinged with anger. It was clear that the child's behavior had deeply frustrated her, and it was not simply due to his mischievous antics. There was something deeper that troubled her.

"I told you it's not allowed to be late to my class," the teacher bellowed, his eyes narrowing into slits. "Send your parents later clear!!" as kc felt a lump form in his throat as the teacher's words echoed through the room. He wanted to cry, but he stopped himself, knowing that it would only make things worse. "Yes," he managed to choke out, hoping that it would appease the teacher.

Without any further warning, she fetched her long stick and made KC kneel in front of his classmates, as they watched in horror. With each stroke of the stick, the boy's skin bent and twisted in agony. He gritted his teeth and tried his best to endure the pain.

But it was not enough. The teacher's fury continued to grow, and with each passing moment, his voice became more menacing. "Remember this!!" she roared, as he delivered a powerful strike to KC's already bruised skin.

Pain surged through KC's body, and he couldn't help but scream out in agony. He tried to hide his tears, but they streamed down his face uncontrollably. "Yes, it won't happen again!" he whimpered, placing his hand on his throbbing rear end.

As if that wasn't enough, the teacher continued to berate him, announcing a surprise quiz to the entire class. KC was in shock, especially since he hadn't prepared. As he slowly made his way to his desk, he opened his broken backpack, only to find that everything was gone. He had thrown his belongings to the hungry dog earlier, hoping to distract them from attacking him and his friends.

KC took a deep breath, trying to calm himself down. But his teacher immediately noticed his lack of preparation and singled him out in front of the entire class. "Hey, why haven't you taken out your things yet? Don't just say you forgot. Come here!!" the teacher sneered, pinching his ear so hard that KC let out a cry of pain.

Just when he thought things couldn't get any worse, the teacher ordered him to kneel on the floor with his hands raised, threatening him with punishment if he so much as lowered his arms. KC knelt there for the entire period, feeling his classmates' eyes boring into him and hearing their mocking laughter ringing in his ears. It was a moment of utter humiliation that he would never forget.

After what seemed like an eternity, the teacher finally announced a thirty-minute break. The students were relieved, but KC remained motionless, his body trembling from the pain he had endured from kneeling for hours. His friends approached him, offering support and consolation.

"Why did you invite us to the falls, man? You know this would happen," Ej asked, his voice filled with concern.

KC shrugged and replied, "I go through this every day. Sometimes, I just want to have a little fun."

"Don't worry, we'll find a way to get you out of there," Jun said, patting KC's back.

Ed added, "Yeah, just wait for us."

KC forced a smile and muttered, "Thanks, guys."

But their conversation was abruptly interrupted by the watcher, Bridgette the teachers pet. She had been watching the group's every move, waiting for an opportunity to intervene.

"Hey, who told you to talk to him?" Bridgette scolded, her tone accusatory.

KC's friends looked at each other, unsure of how to respond.

"He's our friend, Bridgette," Jun replied, trying to reason with her.

But Bridgette was having none of it. "I don't care if he's your friend. You should be focusing on your studies and not wasting your time with him," she said, her voice laced with anger.

KC's friends quickly apologized and walked away, fearing the consequences of angering the watcher. They could feel her eyes following them as they left.

As they made their way back to the classroom, the teacher called out to them. Their hearts sank as they approached him, fearing that they were in trouble.

"Do you want to avoid punishment and improve your grades?" the teacher asked, his voice low and serious.

The three friends nodded, eager to avoid any punishment.

"Then leave your damn friend, and I will raise your grades," the teacher offered, his voice cold and harsh.

KC's friends hesitated, knowing that leaving him behind was wrong, but the thought of punishment and low grades was too much to bear.

Reluctantly, they accepted the offer, not wanting to endure the same fate as KC. As they walked away, they could see the disappointment and hurt in KC's eyes, KC was left alone once again, his heart heavy with the knowledge that his friends had abandoned him. He felt the sting of tears in his eyes but refused to let them fall. He had always been alone, and he knew that he could endure this as well.

After the break, the teacher returned to the classroom and announced that the principal would be visiting soon. The students had to behave and prepare for a special activity to impress the principal.

Bridgette passed a paper, and when it reached KC, he realized that it was an assesment about his future dreams and aspirations. Despite everything that had happened, KC remained determined and filled the paper with his goals.

When the principal arrived, the classroom was buzzing with excitement as the students eagerly awaited their turn to present their dream profession to the teacher and principal. KC sat at his desk, his eyes fixed on the front of the room. He had been waiting for this moment for weeks, and now that it was finally here, he was determined to make it count.

The teacher stood at the front of the room, his arms crossed and a stern expression on his face. "Now that you've seen that, recite here in front of you what you want to be and why, explain here, I'll call you one by one," he ordered.

One by one, the students took turns presenting their dream professions. Some wanted to be doctors, while others wanted to be lawyers or engineers. Each time a student finished presenting, the class erupted in applause and cheers.

Finally, it was KC's turn. He walked confidently to the front of the room, his head held high, and a broad smile on his face. He held a sheet of paper in his hand, and he looked every bit the picture of confidence and self-reliance.

"I want to be the president of our country," he said firmly, his eyes locked on the teacher's. "I want to help the poor and be an inspiration that even if you are not smart, you can achieve your dreams!"

At first, the class was silent, but then they burst into laughter. "He wants to be president? Oh, hahaha! You're always a failure and sloppy reprimand. You're often late, hahahahaha! Then what you want is to be president? Your dream is impossible!" they mocked, throwing paper at KC.

But KC didn't let the ridicule get to him. He stood there, smiling and determined. "Don't be negative, be optimistic," he said. "Just dream freely. I still believe I can do it."

The teacher, however, was less than impressed. "If you have a dream, be sure to reach it. You have no future and no talent. You should just keep quiet," he said, adding insult to injury.

KC felt the weight of the teacher's words, but he refused to give up on his dream. He knew it wouldn't be easy, but he was willing to work hard to achieve his goals.

"President, the day that happened, I must have won the lottery," one of KC's classmates said, chuckling.

"Well, even in a dream that wouldn't happen, haha," another added.

"What are you smoking? Stop it and change your life," yet another jeered.

KC's classmates continued to taunt him, but he remained unmoved. He knew what he wanted, and he wasn't going to let anyone stop him. He walked back to his seat with his head held high.

"Hey loser, why did you dream that?" his classmates shouted at him.

But KC didn't reply. He just smiled to himself and went on believing the he can become the president, determined to make it a reality one day.

Kc said to himself, "Because no one believes I could, that I'm a good for nothing, I want to prove that all of you are wrong. I'm more than just a loser"