Chapter 4:

I can't keep up (a). [Do-Over]

Light of my darkest eve

The short walk from our rooms to the next building over is enough to exhaust my legs completely, mostly due to my difficulty in keeping up with Hanji’s carefree strolling, paying no mind to how well I was keeping up.

“Here’s the entrance to the college. You’ll need to buzz in with your keycard, so don’t forget it.” She doesn’t even wait until I’m back by her side before she starts talking. It’s more like she’s monologuing to herself than actually giving me a tour. “Well, you could always break in through a window if you leave it behind, but they’ll probably chew you out for it.”

“Are… you speaking from experience?”

“Yeah, they really got on my ass about that one.”

“Why not… just go back and get your keycard?”

“Oh, I had it. I just wanted to see if I could do it without getting caught. Almost managed it too.” She shoots me that same uncanny grin from yesterday. On someone else it may have been cute, but somehow everything about this girl is a little unsettling.

She buzzes in and waltzes on through the corridors, once again paying no attention to how far behind I am.

“H-Hanji. Sorry… I’m a bit sluggish because of the meds.” She turns as I says this, and theatrically puts her hand to her forehead.

“Ah, sorry, I’m stupid. Running off at my own pace like that. Not payin’ enough attention.”

“It’s fine, don’t worry about.”

I decide not to tell her about the pain in my legs, or bring up the fact that her tone doesn’t sound remotely apologetic. Neither are things worth getting hung about, especially considering that I do not have the energy to be starting arguments right now.

What is annoying, however, is her choice to simply grab my arm and drag me along at her pace, instead of slowing down to mine. I guess she thought the issue was the fact that I was falling behind, not the fact that I physically am not in the right state to catch up.

“Kyokyo, whattup girl!” Hanji suddenly stops outside a classroom and bursts through the door, still dragging me behind herself.

““Koinyuu, how many times do I have to tell you to keep it down in the mornings? Not everyone has the same bravado as you do the second they get out of bed.”

“Sorry Kyokyo, I’ll keep it down next time” replies Hanji, not changing her volume at all.

Despite her short stature, the teacher commands a sort of authority as she speaks. She can only be some 160cm tall, but her tone is that of someone who knows exactly how to take control of a situation. I suppose that’s the sort of person you have to be to work somewhere like this.

“You must be the new transfer student, correct?” She turns her attention to me, her stern expression changing to a kind smile. To switch attitudes so quickly, she must be a master at faking. There’s likely not an ounce genuinity in that smile.

“Yes, miss. Sora Metarou. But everyone calls me Taro.”

“It’s nice to meet you, Taro. I’m going to be your class tutor while you’re here. And you don’t have to call me miss, my name is Kyoshi.” That kind smile continues to shine on her face, although I can’t say I believe a second of it. A facade, for certain. Probably thinks I’m ready to blow my lid at any time.

“I’m showin’ the dude around the grounds and stuff so he knows where he’s going. Ain’t I bein’ a model student and shit, Kyo?”

“Model students don’t make such a ruckus so early in the morning. And you only volunteered for the job because you wanted to ingratiate yourself with the new student first anyway.

“You always see right through me, Kyo. That’s why you’re my favourite teacher here, y’know.”

“Glad to hear of it, but don’t you have a tour to give?”

“Aw shit, you right. Yo, Taro, pick up the pace man, we got places to see.”

I hold my tongue before commenting on the fact that she’s holding us up far more than I am, and simply follow her back out the door.

“Don’t hesitate to drop by if you need to, Taro. We’re here to help you, after all.” Kyoshi waves as we leave, that kind smile never faltering.

“Thank you. I’ll remember that.” I return the wave half-heartedly, before closing the door behind me.


Hanji continues ragdolling me through the halls of the school, my legs now burning from exhaustion, until she once again stops at a door. This time, it’s a double-door to a much larger room.

“This is the cafeteria, where all the social kids eat. I know you probably won’t be using this place much but I figured I should show you anyway.”

“…thank you?”

I feel like I should be insulted by the insinuation but I can’t exactly say it’s inaccurate.

The inside of the cafeteria is bland and sanitised, almost like the clinical look inside a hospital. It’s likely this way to avoid overstimulating students with autism or other sensory problems, but I can’t say it helps alleviate the feeling that we’re in a prison.

In fact, nothing in the college does. The same single-colour walls plaster the halls, with almost none of the bright displays you normally see in a school or college. I can’t kick the feeling that this isn’t a place anybody would optionally go to.

“This is the table me and my mates always sit at. You’re welcome to join us, by the way.”

“I appreciate it but I don’t do well with loud places or big social groups.”

“Ah, that’s just as well. Some of my friends are kinda insensitive. They’re bad at the whole ‘empathy’ shtick”

For a moment, I feel like letting the pot know she needs to meet the kettle, but I bite my tongue. Picking fights with a sociopath on day one probably isn’t a good idea. Plus it seemed like the offer was genuine, even if it was likely made with some ulterior motive.

“So, do people here tend to stick with… people like themselves?”

“You mean people with the same illnesses or whatever?”


Her indifference towards the weight of the topic continues to catch me off guard. How can someone be so gung-ho about something so sensitive?

“Eh, kinda. You tend to find you have a lot in common when you share a life altering disability or disorder after all.”

“I… guess that makes sense.”

I can’t imagine enjoying the company of other schizophrenics much. But then, I don’t consider my spectres to be ‘delusions’ so I don’t exactly consider myself a schizophrenic in the first place.

“Oh, but a few of us are kinda the opposite. We call ourselves collectors.”

“...collectors?” Does that term imply what I think it implies?

“Yeah, we collect people with different disorders and shiz. I personally have the second largest collection here.”

That… is a practice that doesn’t sit right with me. We’re individual people with illnesses, but there are people here who trivialise that down like we’re Pokemon cards? How could anyone be okay with that?

“Isn’t that… kinda cruel? Acting like people have nothing to offer except their disorder or illness?”

“Wh- nah, Taro bro, you got it all wrong. It’s shared experience and shit, innit? We all got problems that are kinda similar but also kinda different, ain’t it interesting to learn about how our experiences differ and stuff?”

“I… guess so.”

I mean, psychology and mental illness certainly can be interesting, but this is just dehumanising. I hope my distaste doesn’t show on my face, because I can’t say I have any thoughts on this subject other than ‘it sounds wildly insensitive.’

“Aight, we better get movin’ on. What subjects you takin’?” Clearly, either Hanji hasn’t noticed my sourness, or simply doesn’t care.”

“...CS, chemistry and maths.”

“Oooh, I’m in chem and maths too, maybe we’re classmates!”

“Y-yeah… maybe.” She acts excited at the prospect, but it’s impossible to tell which of her emotions are genuine and which are superficial. Regardless, it’s clear she’s trying to gain my favour in a way. As for why, I have no idea.

As I’m thinking this to myself, I realise she’s staring at me, as if in anticipation for something.

“W-what’s your other subject?” Consider how much her face brightens when I ask, I’m pretty certain that’s what she was aiming for.

“Well, my friend, I’m glad you asked.” She puffs her chest out, a look of pride etched on her face. “You see, I am taking A-level psychology. I plan to become a psychologist.”

“I se- Wait. What?”


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