There is an evil spirit looming in this world.
It is a demon of fire.
It spreads quickly and devours everything in its path.
The fire consumes itself and everyone,
Till there is only ash.
Channel Eight News Report:
"This is Channel Eight breaking news. An unfortunate event occurred this afternoon when a fatal fire turned a local school into ash. The fire is said to have taken place around 1:30 p.m., during school hours. Police are claiming that the fire was arson do to the recent chain of fires that have been erupting in the area. Unfortunately, all students and teachers were killed in the blaze, proving the fire spread quickly, depleting any route of escape. Luckily, one boy about seven years-old survived. He was unconscious when he was discovered under the ember, but absent of burns. Authorities raced him to a hospital where he was kept in I.C.U. Mysteriously, the young boy vanished and no one seems to have any clue as to where he is. At this very moment, police are looking for the boy. I'm Kazuo Sakamoto with Channel Eight news, good night."
Ten years later:
The summer sun beat down on the city of Kyoto. Cars roared into the parking lot. Teens joked and playfully shoved each other, still filled with summer delight. They approached the school building, some laughing and others complaining. A new school year had begun. The tall slender secretary and the stocky bald principle greeted the arriving students.
"Welcome back!" the young secretary, Ms. Yamamoto chirped. Her hair was neatly pinned up in a bun, tiny glasses sat upon her small nose, and a syrupy sweet smile was painted with cherry lipstick. "Isn't it just a joy to see the children? Heads full of questions, a hunger for knowledge, that innocent look of young adulthood?"
The principle scowled. "That is not innocence on their faces." He dusted his suit and straightened his navy blue tie. "That's just a mask covering the demonic layer of vile little hell-raisers!" A student was halted by his statement and his eyebrows furrowed. "I mean, good morning! I love the students! The children are our future after all!" When the student had decided on leaving, his attitude changed. "Delinquents, delinquents I tell you! The whole lot of them! They ignore and go against the rules, and the only punishment we have is detention or suspension! Why, when I was in school…," The secretary rolled her eyes as Mr. Inoue began recalling "The Good Ol' Days", "if we talked or didn't do our homework, the teacher would pull us to the backside of the one-room school and made the whole class throw stones at us! Now, that was fare punishment." The students wore uniforms of black and white. The principle spotted a male student who failed to remember the dress code. "Hey, pants need to be above the waist, boy! Nobody wants to know whether you wear boxers or briefs. Oh…well peace to you, too!"
Laughing nervously the noble secretary told him, "Sir, I don't think that he made a peace sign."
Inside, the halls were filling with students. Lockers slammed shut and shoes scuffed the titles. Old faces, familiar faces, and new faces chatted away about the summer and their classes for the year. Tracing the foreign corridors of the high-school was a girl wearing the required school uniform. Her black pleated skirt swayed with her as she made her way down the hall. She wore a black sweater with a white dress shirt underneath. Knee-high socks and black shoes covered her pale legs. Her auburn hair was pulled back in braided but messy pigtails, the bangs framing her soft face.
Uncomfortably, she clenched the strap of her book bag and squeezed the paper in her hand. Stopping in the middle of the hallway, the girl looked about, growing with panic. A group of boys shuffled past her and one bumped her in the shoulder. She placed herself against the wall, out of everyone's way. The feeling of being a burden caused her to lower her head in shame. It was her first year in high –school and already she embarrassed herself. Taking the paper and using it to hide her blush, she continued her journey down the crowded hall. When she had found a teacher she politely tapped her on the shoulder.
The woman had a kind face and spoke softly. "Hello! May I help you?" Her hands trembling, the young girl handed her the paper with her schedule written on it that was crumpled from her fidgeting nerves. The woman glanced at the paper and then the girl, as though she was uncertain of what she wanted. The girl placed a finger on the schedule and the room numbers. "Oh, you want directions! First year, huh?" The new girl nearly fainted, like a criminal on the run who had just been found out. "Don't worry! History room 244 is right down that hall." The teacher pointed towards an adjacent hallway. Bowing, the girl was handed back the paper and traversed the hall. "Hmm…" The teacher whispered as she watched her leave, "what an odd girl."
When she arrived at the classroom door, the girl just stood there shaking. Almost as if it would bite her if she touched it. Taking a deep breath, she threw the door open and rushed in, so quick no one saw her. Everyone just felt a swift wind blow by. As soon as she sat down, she covered her flustered face with her book bag.
"Who's that?" One girl asked, gazing at the anxious girl.
"She's that Ayame girl, right?" Another joined in. "I had her in my chemistry class last year. Whenever the class did partner or group assignments, she would play sick or separate herself from everyone completely. Come to think of it, I've never even heard her talk before."
"Don't you know?" The girl talking looked over her shoulder to see if Ayame was listening. After confirming she could not overhear, she motioned for the girls to lean in so they could hear her whisper. "She hasn't said a word since grade-school. Not…a…word."
"So, like, is she like a mute or something?"
"Seems that way, but it's not just that. She doesn't sit with anyone or answer any questions in class. Yet, she aces everything."
One girl snickered, "Maybe she thinks that she's better than everyone else, or she's mentally unstable." The girls laughed and ridiculed the silent girl in the back of the room. She slumped forward and prayed that there was hole nearby for her to crawl into. Though the group of girls were whispering, Ayame had heard every word. The jokes, rumors, and humiliation were nothing new to Ayame Tanaka. It was simply part of her daily life. All she had to do was make herself invisible and maybe she would be able to make it through the school year.
After the first bell had rung, the teacher at the head of the room silenced the class. "Students, it's a new year, new goals, new friends, a fresh start! So, to start the year off, we will have a quiz!" The entire class erupted in groans and awes. "Don't awe me! You had all summer to review. Did I put a gun to your head and force you not to study? But, before that, let me call roll." She studied the roll sheet and called out their names one by one. "Akihiko Sasaki?" The boy answered. "Satu Aomori?" She raised her hand and answered with 'present'. "Ayame Tanaka?"
For a moment, she just sat there, head bowed. Ayame tried not to get noticed and there she was, the whole class staring at her. "Ayame Tanaka?" Giving up, she raised her hand, but just barely. "Ayame, next time I'd like for you to speak up, okay?"
The gang of girls giggled, "Good luck with that! It'll be like teaching a dog to meow!"
Ayame sunk into the desk, almost becoming one with it. The teacher continued to call roll. "Haru Watanabe?" No answer. "Haru Watanabe?" She placed her hands on her hips and huffed. "Why am I not surprised?"
A flash of black sped past pedestrians on the streets of Kyoto. It resembled that of a raven, tearing down the stretch of asphalt. The mechanical demon of gears and wheels roared past an unsuspecting police car. Immediately, the siren screamed and was on its tail. The Kawasaki ninja bike, turning the winding corners and causing people to jump out of the way, was a hypnotizing sight to see. The driver responded to the sirens that were gaining on him, but did not stop. Instead, he sped up and left the cops in its dust. As he screeched around a corner, he saw a minor road block of construction. However, that wasn't going to stop him. Gaining speed he saw a ramp made from a wooden plank and jumped it. Like slow-motion, the bike soared. It truly did look like raven in flight. It descended and went a way down the street before a chain of policemen cut him off. Sliding to a stop, the biker removed his helmet.
His raven hair fell playfully on his face, covering a part of it. He had emerald pools for eyes that sparkled when he smirked confidently. "Hey, guys! Long time no see!"
The door to the classroom was slide open and in stepped an officer gripping the biker by the shoulder. The teacher crossed her arms and sighed when she saw the sight. "I don't think we have to tell you what Haru was doing. We impounded his bike and ticketed him a hefty fine. So, go easy on the kid."
The teacher shook her head and thanked the officer. When he had left, the boy just stood there in front of the class, waiting for the teacher to say something. Of course, she could probably guess what took place. "What happened to your uniform?" The black long-sleeved shirt had received dust and dirt from the ride and he had it thrown over his shoulder. In truth, it had nothing to do with the filth, he just never felt comfortable in the uniforms. He had taken the top three buttons of his white undershirt and had undone them. It revealed a long beaded necklace with a cross at the end, like he was a gorgeous saint. All the girls in the class stared at the angel that stood before them. Hearts could be seen pounding in their eyes. Even Ayame took notice at the young man. He had a look to him that showed innocence yet rebelliousness also. His skin was snow-white and unscathed, a statue carved to perfection.
"I got into traffic. Nothing a little Oxy-Clean can't fix!" He smiled triumphantly, such a boyish smile. It was very…enticing. That's what Ayame thought, but she quickly dismissed those feelings, hiding her warm blush.
"Just…take your seat, Haru!" She gave the boy a look of scorn as he looked for a seat. "This is going to be some school year."
Haru searched the room for an opened desk and found one near the back of the room. It was right beside Ayame. As he claimed his seat, the blushing girl looked the opposite direction, pretending he wasn't there. As the teacher began to explain the quiz, the raven-haired boy soon grew bored. He leaned back in his chair and softly hummed a random tune. He had a pretty voice too. Searching the area around him and his clothes, he realized he didn't have a pencil. Still humming he looked over at the girl who wouldn't dare look at him. Leaning in close, he whispered, "Hey, can I borrow a pencil or something?" She wasn't phasing, and continued hiding her ferocious blush. "Yo, can you hear me? Hello!" Growing a little frustrated, he reached up for her braid and yanked on it, so that they were face to face. "Hey, I'm talking to you!"
"Haru Watanabe!" The teacher screamed in horror at his action. She threw a textbook and smacked him right in the face, knocking him out of his desk. "How dare you use such violence with a young girl!" He tried to explain, but a ruler came down on his head with a good whack. "Not another word! I'll see you after school today in detention!"
Haru rubbed his head and smiled slyly. "Ten in the morning on the first day of school, and I get detention! I believe that's a new record!"
Ayame fiddled with her braid that was pulled and blushed deeply. Never before had she felt such emotions. In that moment, when they came eye to eye, she saw something in his eyes that made her heart throb. Even though it was only for a second. Maybe it was just her imagination. Halfway through class she glanced over casually to see Haru smiling tenderly at her.
To be continued…Chapter 2: Gym Class