5

Chapter One

Shogo Kawada (Boy #8) was walking hand in hand with a girl named Keiko Onuki (Girl #13). They had just made up after yet another fight. They argued all the time, you see. Maybe it was because Shogo was a born fighter. No matter how many fights the two of them had, they were still together. Maybe that is because both Shogo and Keiko were survivors.

Or maybe there was another reason. It could have been that they were truly, undeniably in love. No matter what they would go through, no matter what they disagreed upon, they would swallow their pride for just one moment in order to say "I'm sorry" thus keeping their relationship alive. They didn't want to lose each other.

Nakata Muruyama (Boy #16) looked at them with slight disgust. Keiko was amazing, the best girl on the planet. According to Nakata, she deserved better than Shogo. Sure, his dad was a doctor and he would probably also take up that profession making a good amount of money, but he wasn't good enough. He was cold and he showed absolutely no sign of loving her.

Keiko knew, though. She could see in him what no one else did. She could see that he loved her, but would never admit it. A lot of relationships don't work out, maybe he was scared. He loved her though, that is a definite.

Suddenly, a loud and gruff voice shattered the peaceful walk.

"You can't prove it! I didn't do nothin' man!" it said.

It was Kenzo Koizumi (Boy #12). Everyone knew about him. They knew to stay away. The boy had a criminal record which went back to the day he turned nine. It started out as theft. It grew to so much more. Everyone was afraid of him. Still, he wanted to be wanted. Doesn't everybody?

He had just yelled at a policeman. The man had just asked if Kenzo was alright, for he had been walking with a limp. The officer sighed and walked away. Kenzo chuckled. That's when he noticed that people were staring at him. He took a few steps closer to Shogo and Keiko.

He looked her in the eye. He said "What are you looking at bitch?!"

Shogo tensed up. He wanted to kill him. No one, especially a lowlife scum got to talk to his Keiko that way. He was going to say something; he was going to start a fight. Keiko knew that. It was as if she could read his thoughts. She turned away from Kenzo the delinquent and walked away. Shogo followed. Nakata secretly frowned.

The Koizumi boy smiled.

"Kenzo? Kenzo, what are you doing?! Why are you up so late?"

"Shut up, Ginjiro. Go back to bed."

"But where are you going?! It's the middle of the night!" The boy whispered. He was afraid, that much was obvious.

"I've got somethin' I gotta deal with. I'll be back in a few hours. Go to sleep, if mom finds you up, she'll be pissed." With that, the thirteen year old climbed out the window.

He didn't know that his nine year old brother would follow him. He didn't know that there would be a knife involved in the fight. He didn't know that someone innocent would die that night. He didn't know, he just didn't know. There was a lot which he didn't know. Still, after that night, he knew there was no going back.

As he stood there, he silently asked himself a question. "Was it worth it?" Was it? Drugs. Alcohol. Was it a worthy trade? "No," he told himself "Ginjiro was worth more than that."

At that moment, a girl named Asano Akiyama (Girl #18) ran right by him. She didn't talk to him. She barely talked to anyone. She went quiet a bit before she turned thirteen. That didn't change the fact that everyone could see what she had done to her wrists. They were oblivious to that fact that they all played a part in her depression. She wanted to be dead. She didn't know that in less than a day, she would be granted that wish. She was unaware of the fact that she would be the thirteenth person to die in that year's Program.

None of them knew that they were going to be chosen. They had been assured over and over again by their parents that their class would not be picked. It couldn't be. There would be no way. With this fed to them, they didn't live in complete fear of the BR Act. They knew of it and they knew it could happen to them, but it wouldn't. It would be someone else's class and they would silently whisper "I'm glad it wasn't me, I'm glad it wasn't me," over and over in their teenage minds. Their thoughts would eventually stray from that depressing topic. They would think of dating. They would think of their friends. They would get married and have children, living an extraordinarily ordinary life. Then they would tell their children that they would not be picked. And they wouldn't. It couldn't happen, right? They avoided it and so would their kids. Unfortunately, for that class, none of that would come true. All but one would die.

They thought it was just an ordinary day, just an ordinary class trip.

Shogo and Keiko sat next to one another on the bus, his arm wrapped casually over her. He was tired. A patient had come in at midnight the night before. A ten year old girl had been stabbed during a robbery. Shogo Kawada and his father managed to save her.

Unfortunately for that girl, they had been running low on anesthesia. She had woken up earlier than they had prepared for. She lay awake, obviously in pain. Still, she did not complain. She was a brave child.

Shogo was glad that the child didn't cry. He wasn't good with kids. He knew it, his father knew it, and every parent who came through the door with an injured child knew it or they would find out soon. Actually, he tried to blame the parents. How could they let their child out of their sight? The world out there is terrible and people get hurt. He felt that children should be protected. They shouldn't have to feel pain at such a young age.

That night, he did something out of the ordinary. He handed that little girl something. "For being brave," he said gruffly. In his hand was a lollipop. The girl took it and smiled. Sometimes, helping people felt good.

Who knows? That kid could grow up to be a scientist or a doctor or a lawyer or somebody who does something important. Even if she didn't, every life has value. Of course, the girl would have to live. Good things would come, but bad things could follow. Her class could be chosen for the Program. Shogo never even thought of that. He didn't think he'd be chosen either.

It was like something that happened in a faraway world. It had never affected him personally; therefore his opinion towards it was rather indifferent. After that bus ride, it wouldn't be.

~ . . . . . ~

He thought he had fallen asleep on the bus. In a way, he did. Then he realized he was laying on a floor.

He, as well as the rest of the class, was in a classroom. A chalkboard and a desk were in the front. There were forty-two desks. Everything looked perfectly organized. That was the first clue that something was wrong. A lot of desks at his school were filled with clutter. Most of that clutter was worthless junk.

The next clue was that his each of his classmates had a disoriented look on their face. He hoped that he didn't look that stupid. Some kids were standing already. He stood up. "Keiko?" he called.

He found her, looking almost peaceful, still asleep. She was so pretty. . .

He shook her awake. "Keiko? Are you alright?"

"Shogo? What happened?"

He shrugged and acted as if he didn't have a care in the world. "I don't know."

"No!" a boy screamed. "No, it can't be! This isn't happening!" His name was Junichi Shidoku (Boy #6).

"Look, Shidoku, whatever is happening is fucking happening. Deal with it,"
Shogo said. Cold cruelty laced his voice. Maybe he was afraid. Maybe he wasn't.

Junichi shook his head back and forth. "No, no. You guys don't understand. You don't know what's happening. You don't get it, you don't get it." He was silent for a minute before adding, "But I do."

"Well?" a girl asked. "What is it?"

"Tell us!"

He laughed. "We're all going to die!" He began to laugh again. He laughed so hard, he cried. He then sat on the floor and hugged his knees to his chest.

"What's wrong with that kid?" someone whispered.

"I'm not stayin' here," Kenzo stated. He walked to one of the windows. It was dark outside. Nothing could be seen. He punched the glass, his hand going right through. Something, no, someone pushed his arm back in.

More laughter interrupted the students. They thought they didn't know who it was. A man walked into the room, accompanied by two soldiers, guards.

"Hey kiddies! How you all doin'?!" he asked optimistically.

No one answered. They were too stunned. They just stared at him.

"Well, then. You guys aint too friendly, huh? Right to business, then." He cleared his throat. "This year, your class has been chosen to participate in the BR Program."

It was a nightmare come to life.

It was a death sentence delivered too bluntly.

It was an awakening.

It was terrible.

Someone screamed.

AN: The purpose of this story is to tell about Shogo Kawada and his experience in the Program. It's co-written by me and evanrules8. I wrote this chapter and evanrules8 will be writing the next one and so on and so on. Hope you like it! Thanks so much for reading, review?