Alicia didn’t talk to me for the rest of the day. I did try to talk to her once, during lunch, but she ignored me and chose to eat with several of the girls in our class. I wanted to say that being snubbed by her didn’t hurt, but that would have been a flagrant, flat-out, massive lie. I was hurt. However, after what happened in the nurse’s office, I couldn’t blame her.
After the last class ended, Alicia packed up her things and left before I could even stand up. Not that it mattered. I was on cleaning duty anyway. Of course, normally, Alicia would have waited for me as I cleaned, but somehow, I didn’t think she’d do that this time.
Schools in Japan did not have janitors. Saitama Private Academy was no different. That was why there existed a long-standing tradition of students cleaning their own schools. Each day of the week, two students, one boy and one girl, would be chosen from each class to clean their classroom after the day ended.
Today was my day and that of Kaoru Kinamori, a girl who many people called a galgirl. She was one of those girls who dolled themselves up, dying their hair blonde, wearing loads of makeup, and talking with an odd accent that mixed English words in with their Japanese speech. We had never spoken before. Granted, that was a given. I didn’t speak to anyone in class besides Alicia, and I’m pretty sure that, to her, I was a non-existent entity.
Kaoru had bailed on me.
I was alone.
Cleaning the classroom consisted of moving all the desks, sweeping the floor, putting the desks back, cleaning the windows, scrubbing down the desks, dusting off the erasers, cleaning the chalkboard, and taking out the trash.
The worst aspect of this, outside of the time it took, was usually cleaning my own desk. It used to always be covered in graffiti, with sentences like “Go die!” and “I hope you rot in hell!” written all over it. That had changed when Alicia befriended me. People were too frightened to mark my desk with graffiti these days. They didn’t want to anger the “goddess” Alicia.
I wondered what they would say if they learned she wasn’t a goddess but a devil.
Because there was always a build up of garbage, I saved taking out the trash for last. I emptied the trash cans into a bag—the same one that I had used when picking up trash while I was sweeping—and carried the trash bag down to the incinerator, which was located behind the school.
A chill ran down my spine just as I was about to put the bag into the incinerator. It wasn’t my instincts warning me that danger was close by. I couldn’t sense any malice. However, I could tell that someone was watching me.
I threw the trash into the incinerator. After shutting the metal door with a squeal, I turned around and cast my eyes about the area. The alley which the incinerator was located behind wasn’t large by any means. About large enough that four people could walk shoulder to shoulder, it was really just a small alleyway of gravel-covered land blocked off on one end by a wall, and the other by the school building. There were a few trees on the other side of the wall, swaying gently as if trapped in a zephyr, and numerous shrubs were lined up against this wall, sitting in a plot of dirt sectioned off by a fence. I looked around some more. However…
There was nothing present.
I could detect no one.
There was just a soft rustling of bushes as something within them moved.