1. Self

After school today I was planning on committing suicide. I bought sleeping pills and everything. It's not like anyone would care. Nobody likes me. I'm no good at anything. Not even my parents give a shit what happens to me. But if I died...well, that would show them, wouldn't it?

I was going to go home right away after I cleaned out my locker...hmph, nobody even stopped to ask me what I was doing. Then, on my way out, Megumi caught up to me. I had known her since we were kids. She was incredibly kind and talented, not to mention cute. She already had like a million friends, so I don't know why she wanted me around. But she grabbed my arm and dragged me along, saying that Nishamaya had a "super cool charm!" that she wanted me to join in on.

That's why I'm here now. And I just realized something: I don't want to die.

I mean, at first I was just kind of freaked out. Who wouldn't be? I had no idea how I got to this place. It was freezing cold and creepy as hell and I couldn't find Megumi or any of her friends. For a while I stumbled around, trying to get my bearings in the dark corridors, but I couldn't make heads nor tails of what was going on.

That was when I saw the corpse. My body seized up so much I thought I was going to go into convulsions, or piss myself from fright. Its hands were clawing at the floor in eternal desperation, one of its legs totally smashed beneath the knee, skin slowly rotting away. It was unbearably hideous. Was this what it looked like when somebody died? I never want to look like that. Death stared me in the face with its overpowering ugliness, and I finally understood that this is what it meant to die.

Since then, I've seen so many corpses. I wish I could get rid of them all. I wish they would stop staring at me. Those dead eyes. If they're dead, why won't they stop looking at me?!

I couldn't find Megumi anywhere. The floor was broken in strange places and I couldn't open most of the doors. Some posters and notes I found say that I'm in some place called Heavenly Host Elementary School. I've never even heard of it. Heavenly? More like hell.

Was I in hell? Did this happen because I was going to kill myself? I won't do it. I'll throw away the pills, I'll live to be a hundred! I don't want to die in here. Let me out!

No matter how much I shouted and pleaded, tore at the windows and kicked at the doors, nobody answered me. There wasn't anybody there except for dozens and dozens of dead bodies. Those sons of bitches. I hate them. I won't end up like them! I won't! They want my life, I can see it, I can tell. But they can't have it! It's mine.

I'll kill them. Even if they're already dead. I'll rip out their eyes and throw them down holes in the floor so they can't look at me anymore. That'll show them. Stupid corpses. I won't end up like them.

I found a pair of scissors on a shelf in the infirmary. It's good for taking eyes out. Sometimes ghosts float around the bodies, mumbling nonsense or moaning "It hurts" over and over and over. It's creepy. They should shut up and go away. Bastards. Some of the bodies had their tongues cut out. Good plan! I'm doing it too now. They're so squishy. The scissors make a nice "snik snik" sound when I'm cutting them out.

There was an earthquake a while ago. I thought this place was going to come apart at the seams. Sure enough, the floor behind me gave out, but as I went forward I realized that a new hallway had opened up. It made absolutely no sense, but it's not like anything else in this damn place did, so I took the door at the end. It led outside! Fucking finally, I thought. Unfortunately, it was raining like crazy, and as far as the eye could see the building was surrounded by a dark forest. There was pretty much no way I was venturing into anywhere that ominous, at least by myself.

Speaking of being by myself, I found one of Megumi's friends inside-I could tell she was from our school by the uniform. She was sitting in a chair, head tipped back and arms hanging down by her sides, wrists chafed, forearms covered in bruises. The lower half of her face was completely smashed in, teeth jutting out of the mess of bone, gums, and cartilage, cheeks torn and jaws utterly destroyed. So they were all here too, I thought, trying to stop a scream from clawing out of my chest. Most of the bodies I had seen so far looked to have been here for quite some time, but this...? She had been alive just hours ago. Suddenly the darkness was a whole lot darker and the silences were so much more disquieting. Somebody was in here, right now, killing people.

More than ever before, I wanted out.

I stood there for a few minutes, whipping my head around to every creak and gust of air, heart pounding and mind racing. Finally my eyes settled back on the corpse in front of me-eyes unnaturally wide in death, boring into me as if accusing me of her demise. My hand tightened on the blood-stained scissors.

"You think this is my fault?" I hissed at her. Of course, she didn't respond. She just stared. All of them would blame me, I thought. I couldn't even fathom my desire to end my own life anymore, but that must have been what brought us here. No...no! Something like this...it couldn't be my fault!

She was still staring. Damn her! It was her own fault for dying like that. I wouldn't be held responsible! But she wouldn't stop staring. Her eyeballs were so slippery when I dug them out. I threw them down a crack in the floor, and spat at her body as I walked away.

It wasn't my fault she died. It wasn't, it wasn't!

I couldn't find anything in the second wing. More doors that wouldn't open, more windows yawning blackness. More bodies, with their infernal eyes. There was even a room where the piano played itself, stumbling through the same song over and over, stopping abruptly when I came too close. The atmosphere in the whole place was making my head pound, and I had found absolutely nothing useful there, so in the end I headed back to the main building. But when I got there...something seemed to have changed. There were different cracks in the floor, new flyers stuck to the walls. There was a different feeling in the air. This time, as I stepped carefully down the main hallway, the main entranceway came into view-and the floor was whole. The main door! I thought. Even though I knew that there was nothing but dense forest all around, I still felt compelled to check the front entrance.

Between the looming wooden shelves, tiny shoes were scattered all over the floor as an unsettling reminder to the history of the building. There was a skeleton rotting away in the corner, eyes long disintegrated along with the rest of its skin. How pitiful, I thought. I made my way to the door and reached out to rattle it experimentally. It didn't budge. Naturally.

I swore and punched the door as hard as I could, which turned out to be a pretty stupid idea because all I got out of it was an injured hand. Praying that my shout hadn't attracted any unwanted attention, turned to glance around me nervously. And then, from the doorway, a tentative voice:

"Tsutaya?"

Damn! I raised my scissors reflexively, breathing rising with panic. It was too dark to see the figure's face from where I stood, but they soon crept closer, the dim light from outside revealing a pale, frightened face. It was Megumi.

The relief on her face was probably about as strong as the surprise on mine. She rushed at me, throwing her arms around me and sobbing into my shirt.

"Tsutaya! Tsutaya...I'm so glad you're okay!"

"Oh...yeah, I was wondering where you were," I managed.

She sniffled some more. "Yuuki is...Yuuki-" she cut herself off with a low keening wail, burying her face in my shoulder. Another one dead? Ugh, I hated to think of what kind of face she was making. My hand tightened on the scissors.

I waited for Megumi to stop sobbing at me. It took a while, but eventually they dried into hiccups and she detached herself from me. She looked me over, wiping her eyes on her sleeves.

"S-so, Tsutaya...where have you been? We were...I-I was...looking all over for you."

"Huh? Well, we were probably in different spaces. I think I switched over a minute ago, actually..."

At my mention of "different spaces" Megumi's face twisted up like she was going to start crying again. "I hate this place! It doesn't make any sense. How is any of this even possible? Why is this happening to us...?"

...Why?

Was she going to blame me too?

She must have seen me stiffen up. "Tsutaya? I'm sorry...are you all right?"

Now that she mentioned it, I was feeling kind of strange...as if I were floating slightly. "No, I'm fine," I told her. I had probably just been in here too long, that was all. "I've been looking for a way out. Have you found anything?"

Megumi looked slightly dazed. She probably had had other things on her mind, or more likely, on her trail. "A..way out? Oh...no, we didn't find anything. All the windows and doors are shut, and I couldn't even see outside." Her lips were trembling. "God, why are we even here?!"

There she went with the "why" again.

She went on, "we did the charm right, didn't we? This shouldn't have happened! We were supposed to be friends forever...Yuuki..."

I couldn't stop my next words. They slid out, cold and crushing as a glacier. "So what you're saying is, it's somebody's fault, right?"

Megumi looked confused. "What? I don't..."

"It wasn't my fault."

"N-no, Tsutaya, I never said-"

"It isn't my fault if you all die in here!"

Megumi was backing away, holding her hands out as if to ward me off. "Tsutaya, you're scaring me..." she said. She noticed suddenly what was in my hand, and her voice rose in panic. "Why do you have those scissors?!"

I glanced down at them. "They come in handy."

She was shaking so violently she looked as if she was going to fall down. She was so scared of me...ha. She really did blame me after all.

I wouldn't stand for it. Especially not those eyes. No, they had to go.

I stepped forward, scissors poised. Megumi ran.

She dashed into the hallway, screaming, making for the stairway towards the left. I gave chase but was forced to stop abruptly when the building lurched. An earthquake? What terrible timing! I ducked down to ride it out. Boards creaked and snapped, walls shuddered, and lights flickered sporadically until the shaking stopped and the building settled back with a deep groan. I stood up and looked around.

The hallway that Megumi had run down now sported a gap far too wide for me to jump. Damn! I couldn't let her get away. I headed back the opposite way, intent on taking the other staircase. But when I reached the fork in the hall-

"Whannah prahy wif me?"

I turned. Standing on the other side of a large gap in the floor was a little boy. Or rather, the ghost of a little boy. He glowed faintly with a soft blue light, staring at me with a look of detached interest that chilled me to the bone. Instantly, my body felt as if it were made of lead. With an effort, I raised my scissors in front of me, gripping them with both hands.

"Leave...me...alone," I ground out, trying not to stammer in fear. These damn ghosts...I wouldn't let them kill me! I couldn't!

The scissors seemed to provoke some kind of reaction from the boy. His eyes narrowed almost petulantly.

"Ah dohn lihk 'uo," he said. Tongueless. Served him right, little bastard.

My legs were totally numb to my control. I felt them take a step forward, towards the hole. No!

"Let me go!" I cried, voice shrill with panic.

The boy just stood silently, watching with a fascination utterly devoid of sympathy-the expression of a child watching an ant drown. I took another step.

"No! Stop it! I can't die here! Stop it!"

His face didn't change even the slightest bit. Five more steps...four...three.

I was getting increasingly desperate. "You little brat," I spat. "I'll kill you. Even if you're already dead!" Two steps. One. "STOP, DAMN YOU!"

I did stop then, reeling like a puppet as my foot slammed down halfway through a step. I still couldn't move my legs, but I was so dizzy with relief that I didn't care. I looked up at the boy, my mouth opening in preparation to tell him off, but...

He was smiling. It was a perfectly innocent expression, but nothing had ever scared me so much in my entire life. "Bye bye!" He said blithely, raising his hand to wave at me. I stepped forward. Crik-crack, went the floorboards. I screamed.

And fell.


Tsutaya Azuma, St Maryanne University High School

Age: 17

Drowned in pool of decomposing corpses. (Chapter 5)

Also mentioned:

Megumi Sugii, age 17.

Starved to death after desperate search for friend.

Yuuki Nishimaya, age 17.

Buried alive by spirit of little boy; suffocated.


Author's notes:

Wow, this one kind of got away from me. I started off with the concept "was going to commit suicide but changed mind", writing from my own experiences. Originally I wrote it as if it was a boy, but realized that Tsutaya is probably a girl and changed tack. The language is still technically ambiguous though! As an added note, the chapter title is actually referring to Tsutaya's selfish attitude.

Also I wasn't expecting them to go quite that crazy, but these things just happen sometimes.

Anyways, if you read this I would dearly love to hear anything you have to say about it! It would definitely make me want to write more, haha. But yeah, thanks.