Akio

In class 1-A of North Ridge High School in a small unnamed town there are twenty-one students. A not particularly well behaved bunch, they all love to spread gossip and rumors while disobeying their home room teacher at every opportunity. Several of the students are in and out of the principle's office on regular occasions. The most rowdy of them all is a fifteen-year-old boy with spiky black hair named Akio. As the leader of a group of six delinquents, who are the most well known in the class, he is taxed with cleaning up after the other students and keeping them in line.

Today is the beginning of the rainy season. In the past the sun has disappeared behind clouds for the entire month of April. There is barely anything left to teach as most of the instructors are busy helping the seniors prepare for graduation. Today the weak influence of class 1-A's homeroom teacher has vanished without a trace. A short man with a whisper of a voice, which helps cause the problems in his class, he does have a steady enough income to indulge himself upon occasion. Most recently he purchased a rather expensive convertible to cheer himself up after his class made him a laughing stock at the last spring break festival.

Of course he, Mr. Read, was too proud of having the wind blowing in his hair to remember to raise the roof before coming to class today. As the first drops of rain hit the window, he rushed out of the class to correct his mistake. Of course Akio would dare not miss a chance to humiliate him further or simply impress his classmates with a daring feat. As soon as the footsteps had faded in the hall, Akio clicked the lock before pulling the shades on all the class room's windows and turning off the overhead lights to make the place look eerie, bringing us to the situation at hand.

All of the students of class 1-A are currently trapped in the room, not technically prisoners of Akio but of the system which requires them to stay there for the remaining hour until school ends. The only options they posses are to either enjoy the absence of the teacher like Akio plans to or to risk getting on his bad side by letting the poor man back in. The first of his friends to congratulate him is a rather short girl with short spiky blond brown hair named Hikaru, Hika to her friends. "That was brilliant. Why didn't I think of that?"

"Cuz you're dumb." Akio answers back proudly. Hika's anger lasts only a few seconds as she is used to his snide comments.

"Well then, what now?" The second friend to speak up is a tall skinny boy with flat light brown hair named Nao.

"I hadn't thought of that. Why don't you guys try to come up with something for once?"

Jumping at the chance to impress her esteemed leader, the third friend, a skinny girl with long black hair down her back named Kana, chimes in with her idea. "Why don't we tell ghost stories? It is the perfect environment, with the rain and all."

"That's perfect, Kana. That's why I love you the most." Akio takes his meaning lightly probably referring to friendship and nothing more. Of course poor Kana expects a lot more in the future but for now she is content with his words alone.

"I'll go first. I just heard a cool one about a mass murderer. He lived in a house without insulation. For some reason he came to the conclusion that stuffing the dead bodies of his victims in the walls would keep him warm."

"That's not a ghost story at all!" The next friend to speak up is another boy only slightly taller than Hika with short greasy black hair slicked down with sweat named Mitoka. "It's supposed to have a twist that jumps out and scares your pants off."

"What for? I'm not wearing pants." The final friend, a girl slightly shorter than Kana with chestnut hair half the length of Kana's named Chiya, is currently wearing a skirt like Kana unlike Hika who usually struts around in track shorts.

"I can come up with a twist," Akio tries to salvage his turn to speak. "Supposedly the police arrested him on multiple occasions but were never able to prove him guilty."

"That's not how you add a twist," Mitoka continues his complaints. "You have to keep the details a secret until the end."

"Well if you're so knowledgeable why don't you try?"

"All right, I will. Once upon a time, there was a beautiful woman with thousands of men pinning after her."

"What kind of story is that?" Akio complains.

"Just wait, I'll get there. After dozens of confessions from countless men, she settled on a rather poor looking and uninteresting man."

"Why would she do that?" Kana is far more interested in the romance of the story than the scary aspects.

"Well, she had low self esteem," Mitoka answers with a smirk. "She was afraid that anyone more popular would be stolen away and her heart would break."

"Sounds like she didn't let her beauty go to her head," Nao tries to sound intelligent.

"Oh, just let me finish. It turns out that there was another woman who had pushed the young man forward in his quest for love in hopes that he would be so shocked by rejection from the beautiful woman that he would settle for his friend who had pushed him."

"That sounds like something Hika would do," Akio chuckles out loud.

"Mitoka? You're not hinting at something are you? Are you telling Hika that she is a nuisance or that her pushing you will backfire?" Nao prods.

"Wait a second, who is Hika pushing Mitoka towards?" Chiya looks around in confusion.

Both Akio's and Nao's eyes pop a little. They each pat Mitoka on the back simultaneously before motioning for his story to continue. Mitoka glares at each in turn before he begins. "Of course the pushing friend had no chance with the man now that he was with the beauty." Akio and Nao both smirk at Hika as her face sinks in disappointment. "The woman did not believe it though. She became obsessed with the idea that he would soon leave her for his friend."

"What's that supposed to mean? That's not scary at all?" Kana speaks for the first time in a while.

"I thought you didn't want it to be scary?" Chiya questions her.

"Well, anything is better than this boring documentary on all the reasons why Hika will fail at life." These words are harsh coming from the shyest member of the group. Hika's eyes are barely visible under her spiky hair but the angry glare is unmistakable.

Mitoka rushes to finish his story before they all get punched by the smallest yet strongest and most athletic member of the group. "Well, she decided that if he, a worthless man, was capable of leaving someone like her than she must be even more worthless."

"I think you're getting a little off topic," Nao interrupts him again. "If you really are talking about Chiya, then does that mean you think she has low self esteem?"

"What?" Chiya looks around stupidly again. "I thought we were talking about Hika." Hika slams her face down into her desk either from sheer embarrassment or just the inability to comprehend Chiya's stupidity.

"That's it!" Mitoka finally becomes inpatient. "She was so worried that he would leave and no one would replace him that she murdered him and buried his body in her garden so she could visit him and eat corn grown from his…"

"Stop!" Kana yells at him. "You were supposed to teach Akio how to tell a ghost story, not gross us out with how you plan to become part of Chiya's garden."

"I don't have a garden," Chiya continues being clueless.

Both Akio and Nao burst out laughing. "Perfect, just perfect. What else can I say?" Akio cheers while clapping. "That was brilliant Mitoka but Kana's right; I didn't learn anything except how far you are willing to go to be inside of…"

Nao slaps Akio on the back to shut him up. "I think we've heard enough. Just promise us it won't come to that, and we will let it go," he nods toward Mitoka. Mitoka buries his face in his arms while grumbling.

"That's it, it's my turn," Kana chimes in cheerily. "My story is about a young woman who…"

"Chased around the leader of a band of delinquents until she grew old and died at the age of sixteen," Nao cuts her off.

Kana clenches her fists while her face turns bright red. "I will kill you next time," she states almost too calmly. "No, she was very popular and had so many friends that people were often jealous of her."

"Does that mean you are jealous of Chiya or she should be jealous of you?" Mitoka raises his head again.

Kana takes a deep breath and ignores him. "One lady who knew her was not simply jealous but also in admiration of the woman. She began to follow her around everywhere and do the exact same things."

"That's Chiya. She's the one that follows Kana." Nao states proudly.

Hika stands up quickly to catch Kana's fist before she can punch Nao. "Easy, I didn't let them get to me and it wasn't even my story. If you don't like it don't give them an opening."

Kana sits back down while smoothing the wrinkles in her skirt. "Every time the woman got a new boyfriend the lady would ask him out as well. When asked what her name was, she would tell people it was the same as the woman she was copying."

"Is that true, or was she just saying that?" Akio asks while tipping his chair back.

"Well it would explain why she was so obsessed with her, if she thought they were clones or something." Nao attempts to sound smart again.

"Anyway, this eventually annoyed all of the popular woman's friends until she had none left. After a long time of being alone, her friends finally saw her again but she had trouble recognizing any of them."

"Oh, I know where this is going!" Akio slams his chair back down.

"Me too," Hika interrupts. "That's no longer the popular woman. They are mistaking the stalker lady for her."

"Exactly, it would have been nicer if you let me tell you the twist but yes, the stalker managed to completely replace the woman in the world."

"What do you mean by completely?" Mitoka ponders out loud.

"I mean she killed her and took her identity."

"Y-ouch, that escalated quickly. I thought she admired her," Akio cringes.

"Didn't you listen? She was just jealous," Nao states smugly.

"So Chiya killed Kana and took her place?" Mitoka mutters.

"Yes, but not before she buried you in her garden," Akio snickers.

"Then which one of us has bodies for insulation at home?" Hika chimes in.

"That has to be Akio. He was oh so proud of his sick little story." Nao jokes.

Akio glares at him for a moment before sighing, "Who's next?"

"Me, me, me," Chiya seems giddy with excitement. "I have one about a girl who tried to contact her dead boyfriend through the occult."

"What happened? Did she get sucked into the netherworld?" Akio jokes.

"Huh? No, she was able to talk to him."

"That's it?" Mitoka complains. "It's supposed to go wrong."

"How would that make a good story? It needs to have a better twist than that." Chiya responds. "Well, they were both extremely happy for a while but then she started to move on."

"Yeah, she moved on from talking to her dead boyfriend in her garden to stalking someone and stealing their identity." Hika interrupts. Akio and Nao try to stifle their laughter.

Chiya pretends not to notice. "So, the dead boyfriend convinces her to kill herself so they can be together."

"Isn't that sweet?" Kana grins.

"No, no it's not," Nao answers. "That's a very selfish thing to do."

"Well it sounds like something Mitoka would do," Akio laughs. Mitoka hides his face in his arms again.

"So were they happy?" Kana questions Chiya.

"Well actually, the trauma from his death prevented him from moving on, but she went very peacefully and happily."

"So does that mean…"

"Yep, she passed on to heaven while he remained on earth in despair."

"That's not a scary story," Nao sighs. "It's just sad."

"Who said it was supposed to be scary?" Chiya answers calmly. "You all asked for a ghost story."

"You're not supposed to take it literarily," Hika shakes her head. "It doesn't have to be about ghosts."

"Now, now, there wasn't much else she could have said. I mean she already killed Mitoka and buried him and then she stalked and killed Kana. What else was she supposed to do than kill herself?" Akio keeps a straight face while explaining. Nao's eyes look like they will pop any second. "Oi, get a grip. It's your turn."

Nao shakes his head to clear his thoughts before rubbing his chin to ponder. "Well I don't really have one with a twist but I know one about a woman who…"

"Another woman?" Akio interrupts. "Did Chiya forget to do something before she killed herself?"

"No, no. if she forgot then it will just have to fall to Hika to take revenge," Kana speaks in a serious tone.

"Me? Why not you?"

"Chiya already killed me, remember?"

"I didn't kill anyone. You told that story yourself."

"Well you killed yourself at least, right?"

"And you followed around a delinquent until you were old!"

"I wasn't old, I was sixteen when I died. Oh great, now you've got me believing all this."

"Excuse me; can I get back to my story?" Nao interrupts Kana's and Chiya's argument. "Well basically this woman was cursed and anyone near her would die"

"Like Chiya," Akio chimes in. "Like how Mitoka and Kana died near her."

"No, no, no," Chiya complains, "I'm dead now too. The one who's still alive is Hika."

"But I wasn't near Kana when she died."

"It's basically all your fault. You were the reason Chiya killed Mitoka, Kana and herself," Akio explains.

"But I didn't actually do the killing!"

"Exactly," Nao finally continues. "She was cursed so that people around her would die and kill, but she never had to lift a finger."

"That sounds bad," Kana mumbles. "You're really scary, Hika."

"That's it!" Hika snaps. "It's my turn. This is a very short story about six goddamn jerks no wait twenty-one classmates who all acted up on a rainy day. One by one they each fell to catastrophe and despair."

"So basically…" Akio mumbles.

"Yes, you're all dead now. Not just the people I am near."

"But you're in this class, so if everyone died then so would you," Nao explains.

"No, I would be fine."

"You said 'twenty-one' not twenty beside if you survived and all of your classmates died, then wouldn't that mean Nao was right and you are cursed?" Akio explains.

"Fine, I'm dead too, are you happy now?"

"Not really, I never said I needed anyone to die."

"You went out of your way to stuff dead bodies in your walls!"

Akio opens his mouth to argue back but the end of the day bell drowns him out. Chiya's chair scrapes the floor as she stands up in a hurry. "So long retards, I have sewing club now."

"I'll carry your things for you, Chiya." Mitoka offers proudly.

Chiya stares at him suspiciously, still curious about the meaning behind his story. "Don't let that jerk touch your stuff, he'll contaminate it." Nao interrupts. "If you need help let me."

Chiya backs away from her second harasser just as awkwardly. "What is wrong with you boys? Leave me alone." She spins on her heels, heading to the door. She twists the knob while stepping forward but the locked door stays put as she slams into it sending papers and books flying.

"Are you ok?" Mitoka and Nao rush to help her up and collect her things.

Hika slowly rises from her seat while sighing. "Those two are hopeless." She mutters while slouching over her desk. Her hair casts a shadow over her eyes again hiding all but the angry glare. She takes a wobbly step forward while letting her arms sway loosely at her sides. She steps over Mitoka and Nao, who are both still busy collecting Chiya's things, and unlocks the door to leave.

"Well it's just us now," Akio beams across his desk at Kana who is sitting backwards in hers to face him.

"Shall we go?" she smiles back at him.

"We shall," he answers in a playful manner. Akio is well aware of Kana's feelings for him but he also knows of Chiya's habit of copying everything Kana does and trying to take everything away from her. He is not sure if he wants to ruin the two of theirs friendship by getting in between and he is also not even sure which one he would choose if they both asked him out. Of course Chiya's feelings are less genuine but she is more outgoing and a little bit less high maintenance. On the other hand he does not want to draw the wrath of his two best friends, Nao and Mitoka, by taking away their oblivious princess.

Kana meticulously stacks her books and shuffles her papers before sliding them into her bag where they will of course become unorganized again but out of her sight where her compulsive tendencies will not control her. She stands up first, taking carefully measured steps toward the door, counting each one in her head and avoiding the cracks between each tile on the floor.

Akio rolls his eyes while watching and waiting. Finally he jumps up from his desk, striding across the room in less time than is possible for the overly careful Kana and passing her on his way into the hall. "Wait for me," she calls after him. He picks up his pace, forcing her to abandon her counting in order to sprint to catch up. "Oh come on, that was mean." He shrugs in response. "Today was rather boring wasn't it?" she switches to idle conversation.

"Sure was, I wish everyday was like this."

"Then you'd fail every test."

"Like that matters to you, little miss perfect."

She sticks out her tongue at him. "If that's my new nick name then so be it."

"Who needs a nick name for you? The only thing I can shorten your name to is can like a can of soda. In fact, I think I with call you soda pop from now on." She punches him in the shoulder in response. Rubbing his sore arm he says, "I get it, no more." The sound of rain hitting the roof gets louder as they approach the front doors to the school building. By the time they reach them, it is poring outside. They step through into the covered hall outside leading to the street. The water pouring out of the gutters blurs anything they can see in the distance.

As they reach the end of the hall, Kana speaks up. "I have an umbrella in my locker. I can go back for it if you want."

Akio stands on the edge of the curb listening to the sound of cars honking just out of sight. He takes a deep breath to smell the rain filled air before responding. "A little rain never hurt anyone."

"Fine, you first then," she laughs while pushing him forward off the curb and into the rain. He stumbles while trying to keep his balance as he disappears from Kana's sight. The sound of tires squealing to a halt before a loud thud is heard right beyond her vision. She immediately drops her bag while jumping off the curb.

The shiny red blur of her teacher's new convertible comes into focus only a few feet away. Lying in front of the bumper is the crumpled body of Akio. "What the hell were you thinking?" her teacher shouts at her through the rain. He pulls out his cell phone before dialing the nearest hospital. "Ok, I can get him there faster, be ready." His glaring eyes do not leave Kana's face as he loads Akio into the passenger seat of the car before speeding off into the rain.