Chapter 1:

Chapter 1: Is it possible to memorize this many names?

The Talents of Kaino High

I feel a panicked tug on my arm. Bookmark here

“Who’s-” I look back to a small boy, a handsome one at that. He seems to have lost his senses. Bookmark here

“Uh… hey… um…”Bookmark here

“Oh!” He snaps alert. “I’m s-so sorry! I was just so shocked by the announcement. So sorry!”Bookmark here

“Don’t worry about it. What’s your name?” Bookmark here

“ Haruki Akio.”Bookmark here

“Akio-kun, nice to meet you. I’m Katsu.”Bookmark here

“K-katsu-kun. Nice to meet you!” He is evidently flustered as he panickedly bows.Bookmark here

“Haha, no need to be so formal. Just join us - we’re thinking of how to survive this too.”Bookmark here

As he finally calms down, I look back at the group. The twins giggle before one of them finally speaks up. Bookmark here

“Logically, we should prioritize memorizing all the names on the file that we were sent.”Bookmark here

“But there’s 150 of them, Tomoko! Do they seriously expect us to remember all of them?” Bookmark here

“Now you can all bow down to the true genius, right here in front of you!” Jisen laughsBookmark here

“No one cares, Jisen.”Bookmark here

“You will after I crush you!” he proudly yelled.Bookmark here

Tomoko lets out a sigh.Bookmark here

We had our phones modified as soon as we got on the ferry, so we can only communicate with those in the school and not anyone outside of it. It’s understandable that they want us to be autonomous here. Bookmark here

Luckily, I was able to send my mom a few parting words before my phone was forced to go through purification. Bookmark here

The only things that remained were a modified web where we could order whatever we wanted and keep tabs on the outside world (I could still surf the web), a communication application, and a curious app that displayed our stats, which, including the numbers and what they represented, were all currently empty.Bookmark here

Currently, everyone was frantically scrolling through their phones, down the class list of the 60th class of Kaino High.Bookmark here

“Um…” Akio raises his hand.Bookmark here

“Yes?” Tomoko takes the initiative to invite him into the discussion.Bookmark here

“T-there’s no trick to this right? They just said we had to be able to write down as many names from our class as we can when we got off the boat right?”Bookmark here

“That’s right.”Bookmark here

“T-then there’s no way around it…. This is a pure memory challenge that the school expects us to do well in if we want to survive in this environment. Let’s start now.”Bookmark here

“Hold on, there must be some way around this, like maybe we can cheat or something?”Bookmark here

Tomoki, is this really the mindset of a top student? I thought.Bookmark here

“I’m not joking. I mean, look around us! We already know each other’s names, right? If you talk to people, their names will be easier to remember.”Bookmark here

She has a point. I look over again at Maya who’s attention has been ensnared by dolphins. Toshiro hasn’t even put away his book. Studying is the priority, I can imagine him saying. Bookmark here

However, seeing everyone so carefree worries me. 25 out of 150, that’s… one out of every six. I understand that they’re all geniuses, but 150 bits of information in under half an hour is a bit too much. I just got acquainted with these people, and I really hope we can stay together for the next three years. If they’re confident in themselves, I’ll just have to make sure I don’t get expelled. I think I’ll just start memorizing in alphabetical order… Bookmark here

“We all have our own methods of solving problems, so let’s do this individually. Good luck to all.”Bookmark here

“Good luuuuuuuck!” Tomoki cheers as she stands up, stretches, and leaves. Jisen does the same right after, insisting he was going to defeat all of us alone.Bookmark here

Alright. I’m going to have to start remembering these names faster than I ever have. Bookmark here

… Kaya Akihiko, Mashiro Akimane, Haruki Akio…Bookmark here

I’ve never really had to memorize so much information in such a short period of time. It’s much better if the information was connected in some way, like the events that occurred during World War Two, but names are the worst. Bookmark here

The teachers are really unfairly rough on us. Recalling part of a name, first or last, will give 0.5 points, while recalling a full name will give 1 point. We now only have about 20 minutes until we reach the island, so I don’t think it’ll be realistic for a lot of people will be able to remember the entire class. Bookmark here

… Kaya Akihiko, Mashiro Akimane, Haruki Akio… Bookmark here

Tomoki got up straight away to talk with any students that were not on their phones like me. I really hope she takes a look at the list at least 10 minutes before time’s up. Bookmark here

Maya has finally settled down, and she maintains her curious expression as she scrolls through the list.Bookmark here

Toshiro is still reading… wait no, he now has his phone out on top of his book as well.Bookmark here

I scroll a bit further down.Bookmark here

… Ayama Tomoki, Ayamo Tomoko, Shimuni Toshiro… Bookmark here

I can feel myself sweating under this pressure. This is going to take some effort.Bookmark here

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The thing about making friends is that a lot of time is wasted discussing pointless matters. Bookmark here

That time could be much better spent reading articles about the details of the newest video game that’s coming out, the youngest pop star’s debut, or even the hurricane that happened in the United States. At least those are interesting to read.Bookmark here

Even if you forget everything you read the next day, I firmly believe there will come a day when this knowledge will be useful. Not that I’ve seen that day yet, but trust me. I have all of this planned out. I have a good memory-Bookmark here

… Kaya Akihiko, Mashiro Akimane, Haruki Akio… Bookmark here

It’s no use… Right now I can barely remember the first three properly, let alone any more than the group of classmates that I know. Bookmark here

I let out a sigh. Bookmark here

As if reflexively, Akio and Tomoko both look up at me, and I am forced to awkwardly laugh it off.Bookmark here

“K-katsu-kun? Are you okay? We still have a little more than 10 minutes… do you want to review the names together? Maybe I can make up for what I did earlier...” Akio asks with a worried voice, extending his arm out as if to save me. His hair is even longer than mine, let down past down his ears. His skin and hair have both been well-preserved, and if I had to be honest, I’d have to admit that I’m slightly jealous of his dashing appearance.Bookmark here

“It’s okay Akio, don’t worry about that.. don’t worry about me either, I got this!” I laugh nervously.Bookmark here

Akio and Tomoko look at each other, shaking their heads, before focusing back on their phone.Bookmark here

I let out another sigh, this time silently, and continued. I’ll need to clear my head if I want to stay safe from expulsion.Bookmark here

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I’m amazed how many students are slacking off despite the daunting task. They’re by no means the majority — the majority of students panicked — but around ten students acted nonchalantly after the announcement, some even resting their eyes. Are they that confident that they won’t be a part of the bottom 25? This isn’t like junior high, where half the kids could barely count properly, let alone retain any bits of information.Bookmark here

I’ve heard that geniuses can do what the average person can do at least ten times faster. That means that they’re only going to need two minutes to remember everything I will have by the end of this.Bookmark here

“Yooohooooo~ do you all have a moment?” A blonde-haired girl had approached our group. I noticed her from a distance, and just from her voice alone, I could tell she was going to be the popular type. Bookmark here

“Not really, we’re kind of busy right now,” I respond without looking up.Bookmark here

“Oh, I’m so sorry for intruding, but I just wanted to get to know you all, you see. My name’s Himi Chikako, what’re your names?”Bookmark here

“Tsuno Katsu,” I snapped.Bookmark here

“Amayo Tomoko. Nice to meet you.”Bookmark here

“Haruki Akio, n-nice to meet you!”Bookmark here

“Hiiiiii I’m Maya!”Bookmark here

“...”Bookmark here

“And he’s Toshiro. Don’t worry about him! He won’t even lift his head up to enjoy the amazing view outside. Look! I can see the trees on the island already!”Bookmark here

Chikako had an apathetic expression as she continued engaging in light conversation with Maya for a little bit longer before leaving. I’d assume that she’s gotten all the information she needed from us. I responded the way I did on purpose. I just really need to focus right now. Bookmark here

Since there really are students of all calibers gathered here, I’m going to have to try a little… Bookmark here

Kaya Akihiko, Haruki Akio, Ayama Tomoki, Ayamo Tomoko, Shimuni Toshiro, Bookmark here

Eito Jisen, Kawari Maya, the newly introduced Himi Chikako, and me, Tsuno Katsu…Bookmark here

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Twenty minutes passed by way faster than I had anticipated, and we were already getting ready to get off the ship. Tomoki has found her way back without me noticing, and is chatting heartily with Maya about some large white jellyfish they saw in the ocean with a green recycling image stamped on its forehead. Jisen has his smug smile, and Toshiro is reading his book again. Bookmark here

The atmosphere almost feels like there wasn’t a test to begin with. Bookmark here

No. Don’t be tricked. They are geniuses, you are not. Get back to reviewing, Katsu. Bookmark here

As we make our way out of the boat, we get to see a gorgeous view of the beach that we had landed next to. There were a large number of tents set up tightly alongside each other. I estimate there to be at least 20. We didn’t even need to be told that we were going to be tested in those very tents. Four teachers awaited us outside the ship, so everyone silently lined up in front of them.Bookmark here

“Is everyone out?” I recognize the voice from the announcement earlier. “Good. It may have come off as a shock to most of you, but you should have treated this like the preliminary exam for this academy. The first exam tests your memory above all, and if your memory is not proficient, you will not survive here. But first let us introduce ourselves.” The female teacher looked like a drill sergeant with her attire, and acted like one too. Her words were voiced with such intensity that it sent shivers down our spines. “You can address me as Mirai-sensei.”Bookmark here

“Some of you might already know, but my name is Hachiroka!” The second teacher looked late in her thirties, wore glasses, and had a warm, welcoming smile. I saw her chatting with students throughout the entire boat ride here. “Well, call me Hachiroka-sensei during class, but outside of that, anything is fine!”Bookmark here

“Tatsumi-sensei. Nice to meet you.” Nothing stood out about him, so he didn’t leave much of an impression on me.Bookmark here

“Fukashi-sensei, if you will.” His facial appearance is that of a mad scientist, with those glasses that he could re-adjust to assert his dominance in the field.Bookmark here

“Good. Now that us homeroom teachers have properly introduced ourselves, we will begin the test. As many of you have probably noticed, there are 30 tents. Alphabetically, five of you will take the exam in each test. So the first five in the first tent, and so on. I wish you all the best of luck.”Bookmark here

30. Not 20 tents. 30. So I can’t estimate now either. That aside, even though we just got to know the teachers, one sixth of us will be expelled after coming out of the tents. Bookmark here

Maybe I should just enjoy myself on this beach while I’m still here.Bookmark here

“G-good luck, Katsu-kun!” Bookmark here

I snapped around, and waved back to Akio, who had left to enter the first tent. “You too!”Bookmark here

“I just hope none of us get expelled, we just got to know each other…”Bookmark here

Regardless of what Tomoki says, we all know that everyone is at risk. Bookmark here

Moreover, this is our first interaction with the rest of the year, our first understanding of the level of skills that everyone else has. Bookmark here

Eventually, we all split up, and I entered the tent with four other K students. We each sat down in front of a table with a long piece of paper and a pencil. When the administering teacher told us that we could begin, we wasted no time scribbling down the names that we had memorized.Bookmark here

I had barely gotten started before something I never could have imagined happened. Bookmark here

The other four boys in my group had all completed all 150 names within twenty minutes. Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.