Abyss of Penitence
My mother had sent me yet another collection of “old pictures” she often took of me when I was a small child. Three of them stood out to me, to be precise; whilst they were images that subsequently corresponded to each set of time period during my childhood, they all held this sort of “charm”, or, how do I put it… “happiness” to them? I guess you could say that.
Not to say that I had lost that happiness from when I was younger, however. Whenever this thought courses through my mind, I just think of it as a part of growing up. They were pictures of when I was significantly younger than I am, 19 years old, so it would seem quite reasonable for someone to seem different than they were a few years ago.
Nevertheless, she sent them to me when I was hanging out with my close friend Otokaze. It was such an occasion when your friend just so happened to be throwing a quick glance towards your phone right at the worst moment. Perhaps… I have become the one who brought forth a time of suffering to myself. The guy would just never stop talking about how “depressed” I seem to be compared to the older times. Much so since he has known me ever since we were kids. This had been going on for weeks now, day after day. And while I first managed to substantiate myself well from his barrage of jests… there is a point where anyone reaches a breaking point.
It was Monday, which already was a main ingredient for disaster. After I had gone through my usual morning routine, I clothed myself in a white, short-sleeved blouse with black trousers, and took my leave from my apartment for the time being. I was indeed living the “independent” student life, or, that is how many of my classmates would call it. It wasn’t uncommon for any of us to be embarrassed by the actions of our parents, which stimulated us to reach a new point in life, starting with living by ourselves.
Since school wasn’t too far away from where I lived, it took around ten minutes for me to arrive. As the building’s facade kept growing closer to my sight, the schoolyard was already bustling with enthusiastic students, all engaged in their own regular chit-chat. Again, Monday had always been the worst day for me, so I would always wonder to myself why anyone could possibly have their energies up and running on a fricking Monday? It’s just inhumane to me.
In any case, I promptly closed my eyes in frustration at having to deal with the cluster of traffic for a good amount of hours today and traversed my way into the school’s building. This school system is a little different than most; it doesn’t use a standard set of time for all students globally, but rather has it halved in between two different sides, which is why there were so many students outside. While they weren’t obviously all of them, it was good to see some people not taking any risks of getting into their classes late, which was pretty much an ancient abomination within this system.
Arriving at the forefront of the classroom, I slowly pushed the door open, the sun-illuminated area materializing before my eyes. The class was filled with my classmates, each cluster of people engaged in their irrelevant talks. Swaying my gaze over a group of girls that all encircled a singular table, my eyes met Otokaze’s, who was aggressively waving at me with a bright comportment. A cheerful smile tugged at the corners of his lips, as his dark, short brown hair fluttered gracefully in the wind seeping through the opened window right next to him.
I faked a smile as I neared his table. Doing so, I subconsciously passed a solemn table where a girl sat. And as if some magical force turned my subconscious mind into being conscious, I abruptly cast my pupils towards her, witnessing her long black tresses cascading over her entire countenance, obscuring it from anyone around her entirely.
Is she crying…? I thought, until I noticed a slight outline of a book cover. She must have been engrossed in her diary, or something. Though this was a short moment, I felt immediately entranced by her presence. She was a girl that nobody talked to or even acknowledged her existence. Even our teachers, as far as I know, had never threw her a query about a certain question to make sure that she would perform well at an upcoming test, or even anything like a simple question among the lines of, “How’s it going?”, or “Able to concentrate well?”.
It kind of makes me feel bad.
But nothing that I am able to do about it. She never seems to be distracted or anything. Whenever we attend our classes, it always seems like she is daydreaming, aimlessly staring into the distance as time passes by. I wish I had something like that… the only one who makes my school days bearable is…
“Oi, Haruki, what’s the matter?”
…Otokaze, who broke my revered state, thankfully.
“I’m fine, just didn’t have enough sleep last night,” I responded, taking my seat behind him, next to the silent girl.
“Oho? Have my jokes gotten to your head? Must have been havin’ nightmares about me, no, about young Haruki!”
“Kaze, it’s been two weeks already. I think the joke has died out.”
“I don’t think so, pal! Your mother never fails to make me giggle to the grave! I should just take this picture and set it right beside your face…” Otokaze jested again, interlocking both of his pointer and thumb fingers into a camera gesture.
“...Even an idiot would notice a million differences!”
“Yeah, yeah. Anyway, how was your weekend?”
“Good!” He responded, closing his eyes mischievously. “Had to work a few hours on Saturday, though. But can never say no to sum extra cash, can we?”
“Did you end up finishing the homework for today?”
I closed my eyes in disappointment, supporting my head under my left hand. “You can’t keep getting away with this, Kaze.”
“Next time, I promise!”
“Fine, just copy my stuff before the teacher’s gonna g—”
The door was swung open before I was even able to finish my sentence. Stepping into the room was someone none of us had seen too often. It was a middle-aged woman who presumably seemed to be taking in our class for today.
“Isn’t that Miss Kazumi?” Otokaze whispered, leaning on my table.
“I think Sensei Issei has gotten sick, or something,” I responded to him. “You’re very lucky today.”
“She doesn’t know about our homework? Well, let me just copy it anyway, just in case!”
“That’d be too risky. I am positive she doesn’t know about it yet. If she sees you copying your homework, it’d be over for not only you but probably others who haven’t done theirs, as well.”
“Aaagh! God damnit. If you say so.”
As Miss Kazumi took her position right in front of the glass, everyone who was standing took their seats. A silence permeated the area, slightly broken only by soft mutters and whispers between group friends, more specifically the boys. Presumably commenting on Kazumi’s… figure…
She then took the word, breaking the silence completely.
“Good morning, students! Issei has gotten sick today, so he has forwarded me the things I am supposed to teach you all today. If I am slacking with any sort of subject, please apologize for my inability. I shall try my best.”
Miss Kazumi was a P.E. teacher, which only made it strange why she was the one given the task of taking over Issei’s class today. Though, upon hearing the first words being emitted from her mouth, one could already feel a sense of strong charisma emanating from her. Something that our regular Sensei lacked completely.
“We are starting with English. Please get your books ready!”
Otokaze quickly threw a glance at me. Mirroring my relief, he whispered to me as he looked at me over his shoulder, ”What a saveeee!”
I chuckled slightly, holding my gaze downwards, my tone barely above a whisper.
We were about twenty minutes in our English class. Well, in my case, it would be just ten minutes, given the number of times Otokaze had tried his hardest to make me burst into laughter by sending me videos to my phone. We both had an unhealthy habit of exchanging short, funny videos while classes were going on. Nothing that nobody would take notice of, though. We both sat in a secluded corner right next to the window. Whenever any of us would be asked to answer a question was a rare occasion.
Though, this time, as I was trying my best to hold my laughter, my eyes fixated on my phone screen, buried under Miss Kazumi’s voice…
Tck, tck, tck
…I heard a soft ticking noise coming from right beside me.
I slowly followed the source of this noise, turning my head to the right, seeing the silent girl still engrossed in her book. Seems like she’s also bored with this class, I thought, my eyes now subconsciously fixated on her tapping on her book cover. Wait, has she been staring at her book cover for all this time?
The edge of the cover I saw earlier evidently indicated that the book was closed…
Taken aback, I began staring at her, as if trying to initiate a conversation with her… this went on even when Otokaze continued to send me the dumb videos, thinking that I was just trying my hardest to stay silent, yet I was nowhere near this realm anymore. My attention was fully locked on the girl sitting next to me, who was continuously ticking on her book. Seconds turned into… longer seconds, and right when I was about to turn my attention back forwards…
Is that, a lighter?
I saw a dim flashing light right on that book cover. As if her fingertips promptly illuminated the book’s cover in a small circle. A Pyro…? I pondered once again. I was so befuddled that the only explanation I could think of was something unnatural, something that does not exist within this world. An unreality.
And as if she had heard the words in my mind, she turned towards me, our eyes locked with each other in a poignant exchange. Her face was now fully visible. I could instantly notice how much her long black tresses accentuated her beautiful facial features.
What… has she always been this beautiful?
She then decided to bless my eyes with a beautiful, but slightly uncanny smile. Her lips were closed, as if she had found someone with whom she could finally talk. With a shy motion, she slowly shifted her book towards me.
I tried to understand what she was doing by nodding slowly in concurrence. My eyes slightly widened in surprise.
“H—hey,” I tried to whisper, yet to no avail. She remained silent, our eyes still locked with each other. She still donned her beautiful smile, as she reached her hand out to me.
What is she doing?
She then interlocked her fingers…
…And snapped them.
Immediately, a sudden flash beamed throughout the entire classroom. Right before everything and everyone was engulfed within the light’s proximity, it felt, no, it literally seemed as if I was the only one who was aware of her actions. Not to mention the engulfing embrace of this light. The teacher kept on teaching, and everyone, even Otokaze remained composed as they were all being consumed by this light. And I could only catch a quick glimpse of this girl’s face right before everything went blank; her eyes widened in a shocking uncanny grace, as if she had just changed personalities with an absolute, serial killer maniac. I could see the outlines of the grim ear-to-ear smile she etched on her face as if she had just detonated a bomb that exploded the entire school building, her lifelong vengeance-filled mission finally fulfilled.
I could not say anything anymore.
My voice was drowned under this illumination.
It seemed as if the entire world had gone white.
But right before I started to feel panicked…
The light vanished…
…And I fixated my sight on my surroundings.
…Was filled with death.
The surrounding area was splattered with grotesque remnants. Splashes of innards scattered haphazardly.
I saw remnants of intestines lying swarmed on the ground. They coated the entire area, with some of them clinging onto the blood-soaked walls, slowly descending on the ground.
I saw bodies, decapitated, half torn, lying lifelessly on the ground.
And that was when…
…I turned my head forward. My eyes widened in complete shock.
Kaze’s head was turned into a full 90 degrees. His lifeless gaze stared me into my soul, his entire body drenched in blood, the left half of his body completely vanished.
His limp body fell down on the blood-soaked floor. His body splashing in the pool of crimson blood.
I instinctively stood up from my seat. My shoes completely drenched in the heavy mud of blood. Not knowing what or how I could possibly keep control over my body, I stepped backwards until I slipped. I landed bottom-first into this crimson-red macabre sea, my blouse stained with specks of blood.
My body trembled uncontrollably. I was thinking of a million words, yet none of them seemed to pass through my tongue. They were all secluded within my soul, as if my trembling body had become the concentrated, compiled stack of every negative emotion imaginable. I didn’t know how to feel, everything felt numb, I did not believe this was happening.
Darkness slowly encapsulated me as my eyes began to close. My body was at this point completely submerged in the drenches as I collapsed. My gaze was motionlessly locked on the seat given to the silent girl…
…She was still there.
Sitting, on her chair. Engrossed in her book. Her hair cascading over her countenance.
Consumed by complete silence, with the droplets of blood and intestines falling onto the crimson-red pool breaking it hauntingly.