Chapter 7:

I'm scared of new faces. [Do-over]

Light of my darkest eve

“You back to the land of the living, bro?”

I blink a dozen times before my sight straightens out properly. Though still stiff, my muscles had regained motion after the antipsychotics calmed me down.

“Hanji… yeah, I’m back. I think I went catatonic.”

“Catatonic? Like that thing where they used to bury people alive ‘n shit?”

“Thanks for that mental image.” My mind now clearer, I still filling in the blank spots in my memory. “I think… the stress of all the people looking at me triggered an episode. And I was so panicked that my body went into catatonia as a defence mechanism. It’s happened before.”

Hanji looks at me curiously, as if what I said makes no sense.

“What’s so stressful about people lookin’ atcha?”

“It’s… what they’re saying with those looks. I’m an outsider. I’m dangerous. I’m not welcome.”

This time she looks at me like I’m a complete imbecile.

“What are you blabbering about, idiot? You’re a new transfer student who showed up out of nowhere, of course people are curious.”

“But… there was malice in their stares.”

“Why do you think that.”

“The… ghosts… told me.”

Oh dear god, I probably sound like an utter lunatic. ‘The voices of the dead people that follow me everywhere said so.’ If I heard someone else say that, I’d think they’re completely deranged. Hanji, however, is looking at me with a sort of curiosity, holding her chin in her hand and seemingly thinking deeply.

“Hmm… Reckon you could come to my room after lectures end today?”

“To yo- uh- that’s a little forward…”

“Not for that, you clown. I’m curious about these ghosts you keep talking about, but I don’t wanna talk to ‘em in a place filled with other people. I’d look utterly mental. No offence.”

“None taken.”

Talking to the voices in your own head probably makes you seem crazy enough. Talking to the voices in someone else’s head would make you seem like a complete nutcase. As to whether I’m okay with Hanji talking to them… I’d prefer not to let someone so untrustworthy into such a private part of my life, but I’d also prefer to stay on her good side. Who knows how dangerous she could be. Plus I do owe her, both for the tour and for hauling my ass out of the classroom.

Even if that was simply to gain my favour, she did help me, and I don’t want to let my debts go unpaid.

“I… guess that’s okay. They’re not good conversationalists though.”

“Fuckin’ sweet. You’re a legend, bro.”

“They’ll probably just keep telling me to kill myself.”

“Well, don’t listen to ‘em. I got a lot of questions for that weird little brain of yours.”

“Okay, now I’m taking offence.”

“My B.”

She doesn’t sound like she’s sorry at all. But it’s not worth starting an argument over, so I drop it. I’m not exactly okay with her treating me like a labrat, but the last thing I wanna do on my first day is make enemies with a sociopath.

I quickly throw back a dose of my antidepressant meds, and re-enter the classroom with Hanji. Raipunittsu reacts with little more than a nod of acknowledgement while he continues his lecture. I suppose this sort of thing probably happens a lot here.

Unsurprisingly, the number of stares directed at me increases, but the meds are keeping the paranoia at bay, and I try to keep Hanji’s words in my mind. They’re just curious about a new student. Nothing more.

“-st used when integration by substitution is either inconvenient or impossible, so don’t just jump straight to using parts if you don’t need to. And with that, we’re pretty much out of time. That homework is due in the same time next week, so don’t forget it.”

Before I even realise, Raipunittsu is wrapping up the lecture. I breathe a sigh of relief, glad to have simply made it through without a second panic attack.

Several students, Hanji included, are already preparing to leave before he’s even finished speaking. I, however, have barely even begun moving. As I slowly pack my bag, I notice an impatient Hanji tapping her foot next to me. Is she waiting for someone? As I sling my bag over my back, I get my answer.

“You done yet, man?”


“Cool, come wi’ me.”

She grabs my arm and drags me behind her without a second of warning, catching me completely by surprise. A million possibilities run through my head. Is she taking me somewhere out of sight she can threaten me into buying her lunch? Is this some sort of induction? Am I going to hurt? Bullied? Am I going to die? What could she possible need from m-

“Wait there a minute, gotta do somethin’” I’m snapped back to reality by Hanji suddenly letting go of me in front of a locked metal door door. As she speaks, she roots around in her pocket and retrieves two small objects. One is covered in ridges, and the other has a hooked end. She inserts the one with the ridges into the door’s lock, seemingly feeling around for something, before inserting the one with the hooked edge and turning. The door clicks open, and I notice that we’re at the roof.

“C’mon, let’s go.” She beckons me to follow her as she steps out onto the roof, and I hesitantly oblige, not really feeling like I have much of a choice. It’s difficult to say no to this girl. Before you even have a chance, she’s already swept you into going along with it.

“...why did you bring me here?” My voice is weak as I ask the question. She had to break in (or, out, I guess?) to get here, so she must have an important reason to have dragged me here. Is this where she hustles people or something?

“You said you don’t like the cafeteria, right? Me and my mates eat up here sometimes, figured a quieter place would suit you better.”

“You… picked the lock to the door… to eat lunch up here?”


“And you do this… often?”

“Few times a week. They used to give me an earful for it, but they gave up after the 15th or 16 time.”

“I… see.” I suppose I shouldn’t have expected a sociopath to have reservations about breaking rules in the first place. And I also feel stupid for actually considering the possibility she may kill me when her actual plan was to find a place to eat lunch.

“C’mon, don’t just stand around, come sit here.”

“Ah- right.” She takes a seat right next to the large fence surrounding the roof, and I timidly join her. As I look past the fence, I’m taken by surprise.

“Beautiful, ain’t it?”

“Yeah. It’s calming to look at.” The roof has a perfect view of the small town, the sun shining bright over it’s quiet streets. Despite the constant anxiety of today’s events, the tranquillity in this place puts my heart at ease. I have to hand it to Hanji, she picked a really nice spot.

“Yo, Ji, this your new boy?” The peaceful silence is interrupted by an approaching voice, and I turn to see that four more people have joined us on the roof.

“Koto, you got here quick. This is Taro, by the way.” Hanji replies to the voice, and the person at the front of the group speaks back.

“Nice t’meecha, Taro. Names Makoto. Family name’s off the books, so don’t ask for it.” The boy called Makoto puts a hand out as he approaches, and I stand to shake it.

“Sora Metarou. Nice to meet you too.” Much like Hanji, Makoto also squeezes quite tightly as he shakes my hand. The smile on his face almost resembles a sneer, but the tone he talks in is relatively friendly.

“Shirogane Saki. I’m the one who keeps these idiots in line.” The new voice is that of the white-haired girl to Makoto’s left. “Nice to meet you, Taro.”

“Ah- likewise.” Saki only extends a fist, which I meet with my own. She doesn’t have the same oppressive attitude as Makoto, but her exasperated expression tells me she’s probably not in the mood for personal questions.

“Tanaka Yosuke, and the girl next to me is Akane. She doesn’t talk much.” The blunt, monotone voice comes from the penultimate member of the group, a bored-looking boy wearing jeans and a t-shirt from a Junji Itou manga. Next to him is a timid girl, who looks away nervously and hides behind him. I guess I’m not the only one here who’s anxious to meet new people.

As I try to cool my nerves at the sudden emergence of four new people, I feel a hand on my shoulder.

“So, Taro boy.” Makoto gives a strangely warm grin. “What’s wrong with you, then?”

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