No One Knew

Another day at Yamata high and another day Ria spent waiting for, well, anything. The redhead sat underneath a tree on the grounds, watching two groups of kids bickering back and forth. Now and again, one would stand taller or attempt to throw a punch, but someone always stopped it. They knew better than to straight up fight while school was still in session.
Ria’s hands absentmindedly played with the doll in her hand. It had been weeks of her waiting for a chance to tell the two kids who had helped her thank you- the two who had stopped those bullies from hurting her. The two kids who, by the looks of it, were a part of groups who couldn’t stand each other.

One of the pair was the biggest, with shocking red hair. It was usually he who Ria found first. The other was a smaller girl with dark brown hair and an almost permanent expression of ‘Piss off’ worn on her face.
Neither adhered to the dress code, but then again, it seemed none of their friends did either. Instead of the black ties and ribbons, half wore red and the other half wore blue. Blue and Red seemed to hate each other very much.
Why did both of them help her? That was something Ria had begun to wonder since the first time she tried to thank them.
At first, she didn’t want to get between the warring cliques, just preferring to wait and find a time she could catch them alone. Now slowly, she had just started observing them and their behaviours. Without anyone else to talk to besides the straw doll in her hand, it did make for a lot more entertaining lunches.
In the back of her mind, however, she kept reminding herself to wait for her time to come. To go up to the tallest boy and angry-looking girl and tell them both that when they defended her, it was a great gesture of kindness to her.
“It’ll never end with them, huh?” Ria asked the doll quietly. She continued to fiddle with the little arms and legs of the item, smiling a bit more to herself. “You make this a lot easier to deal with. Having you to talk to. Having… someone to talk to.”
Ria found the doll not long after the incident between herself and the bullies. It was on the floor inside of the abandoned classrooms. She had been wandering around some of the restricted areas. Nothing too dangerous or deep. Just exploring. And then she found it. Sitting in the corner and calling out to her. Not physically of course. But something just told her to pick it up.
Thank Khazradan she had. It had proven to be a nice companion to give all of her problems to. With her Mom constantly working and Dad having left years ago, Ria didn’t have an ear to listen to her problems. This little doll had proven to be a wonderful companion.
“Now if I could just figure out what to name you, we’d be great friends huh?” She asked with a growing smile, having to talk a little louder as the two groups continued to argue, their bravado growing into thunderous shouts and taunts. “They really never stop, do they?” She asked, glancing at the straw doll. Ria gasped slightly.

Illus. by Miriam Medina

For a split second, Ria was almost positive that the doll had nodded its head. It wasn’t the first time that she had seen something like this. Or thought she did. But each time it happened, she chalked it up to just a trick of the light or her imagination. She spent her free time speaking to a doll, after all. Even when she did it, she knew she was being a little silly.
“Come on. It’s almost time for class.” Ria stood up and dusted her black skirt off. She glanced over at the two people she had come out here for. The taller one just stood there, arms crossed and looking off into the distance while the smaller one was being held back by a man with a long ponytail and a mean expression. “Next time. I just… I just have to do it. Tomorrow. Not today though, I’ve got to get a haircut tonight,” She said to the doll, giving it another smile.

he next day, at lunch, once again both groups of kids in the blues and reds were arguing and yelling, some more than others. But, for once in some weeks, the tree that they gathered near stood with no one beneath it. Save for a small straw doll. Its entirety a light brown save for some splatters of crimson. Beady eyes stared at the two groups and every now and again, they would glow a soft purple.

No One Witnessed

Illus. by Lark Raster

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Illus. by Lark Raster

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The door shut behind Yuzuru, creating the smallest echo of noise in the deserted hallway, followed by a small sigh of relief. Spending all afternoon and night studying was always a pain, but his grades reflected the hard work. Yuzuru just wished his sleep schedule didn’t suffer because of it.
One of his hands aligned his backpack, making sure it was secure while the other shoved the long, dark blue hair hanging in his face away. Another down side to studying so much? He hadn’t had time for a much needed haircut.
Down the hallway and around the corner, he made his way along another corridor. Empty classrooms lined the walls. Because of the location of his classroom, Yuzuru took a short cut out of the school through the abandoned wing. It wasn’t the ‘safest’ according to the teachers or some of the students, but he’d rather save some time. Plus, nothing had ever happened to him while strolling through there.
Ahead of him, Yuzuru could see signs and warnings slowly coming into view and. At the end of the hallway, bright yellow tape appeared through the darkness.
Yuzuru pushed the tape aside. Once on the other side of all of the warnings, he pulled off the black tie that was a standard for the uniform. Stowing it in his pocket, Yuzuru began to make the trek home. As he did, he glanced past the sights of the abandoned classrooms and slowly dilapidating corridor.
Rumors flew around the entire school about what happened here all those years ago. Why did the school close this section off? It couldn’t have been dangerous or else the whole school would’ve been shut down. Then again, if they tried that, the students would have nowhere to go. It wasn’t exactly like the city had a bunch of money lying around to spend on repairing an old school, let alone building a new one. Sure, there were a few other schools in the area, but they were definitely further away for most families.
Yuzuru first saw the gathering smoke out of the corner of his eye. He shook his head. His eyes must have been tired, tricked by a lack of light, his imagination, whatever. But soon it made a noise. Something that was easy to hear compared to the usual silence Yuzuru was used to in these empty hallways. It was almost like the air was being filled with whispers. No discernible words per se, but it sounded like whispers.
Yuzuru turned and stopped fully to look, to watch in awe. The form was like sand in water, shifting and changing and growing. Yuzuru’s hand pushed his hair out of his face and held it there, making sure that there was no way that this was a trick of his mind. It was there. This thing was actually there-
A black claw like appendage shot out from the source and, barely, Yuzuru escaped its full reach. Maybe it was because it wasn’t fully formed. Or maybe because, by the looks of it, the damn thing didn’t have any actual eyes. Whatever the reason, Yuzuru knew he couldn’t actually ask and took off running, his legs pushing harder with adrenaline.
The hallways and paths that had once been familiar were now incomprehensible. He ducked and moved through various abandoned classrooms and holes in the walls. Every few seconds he would glance back and see it, the shadowy figure twisting and writhing in the air behind him. Each time he saw something new about it- how it seemed to constantly shift form. Its ‘hand’ was still swiping at the air around it. There was a focal point like a head, at the top that it kept fixed and focused on him.
He slid around another corner and into an old music classroom. The bleachers were gone, although some lockers remained along with some of the music stands. Quickly, he found an open locker. First try. Luck was on side for that at least. His bag was shoved in first and then his body and then he shut the door as quietly as he could.
No other noise but his heavy breaths.
Could it go through doors? That was a question he should’ve tried to answer earlier, but panic and adrenaline had set in. Hopefully he had been far enough ahead when he turned the corner that it didn’t see which direction he went. If it even used sight.
Was this… thing the reason they closed this part of the school? No. It couldn’t be. They wouldn’t let the kids stay in a school possessed by a spirit like this. Or whatever it was. But, then again, it wasn’t like the city had a lot of options. And maybe this was a result of all of the construction. The renovations had roused this creature and let it loose. Which would explain those missing kids. God. Those missing kids. Would he suffer from the same fate? Questions, all of which he hoped would be answered when- The sound of splattering blood filled the inside of the locker. Then silence. Slowly the black mass pulled itself from the locker and disappeared after it phased through the music room door.
Illus. by Kyle Luo

No One Answered

“I’m tellin’ ya, I saw some serious stuff down the hallway,” Aono told his friend.
Aono stood taller, looking over the head of Mizore and into the long hallway he had just mentioned to her. He didn’t need to see her face to know she rolled her eyes when he heard a small scoff.
“And what is the serious stuff you’re talking about?” She asked.
“It was this sorta…glow-y ball type o’ thing. It went and sat itself right in the middle of the air and I’m askin’ myself what sort of thing that gotta be right? Like, maybe a prop from the upcomin’ school play and-”
“Pretty sure RENT doesn’t have anything like that.”
“Don’t go interruptin’ me when I’m tellin’ ya my story,” Aono said, his brow furrowed. Mizore merely shrugged, head still forward into the darkness.
“Like I was sayin’, I’m watchin’ the thing and I’m right curious about it all, but I ain’t stupid.”
Another scoff from Mizore.
“So I take a few steps closer. Like inch by inch, right? It’s bright, but there’s no warmth at all in the thing. So I’m gettin’ closer still and wouldn’t ya know it when a claw like thing reaches out from the ball orb thing and takes a swipe at me!”
A moment of silence. “…So you’re saying that in this hallway, there’s an evil orb trying to slash kids to death? Or was it just after you? Maybe it wanted to give you a haircut Aono. It has been awhile.”
“Lay off, chicks dig the long locks. And I ain’t jokin’ Miz. I ran for my bleedin’ life like I ain’t ever run before.”
Mizore clicked her tongue against the roof of her mouth and turned back around to face Aono. Her purple bangs hung in front of her face and her usual callous demeanor was a little less bitchy. Her brow scrunched, one eyebrow raised. “You want us to go check it out together then? So I can show you there’s nothing to be afraid of.”
“I ain’t got a better thing to be doin’ with my free period.”
“When did you see it again?”
“Lunch time, yeah.”
“Why were you going through the abandoned parts of the school during your lunch time?”
“Cause I was bleedin’ curious. Why did they shut this side down?”
Mizore rolled her eyes, “With all of those accidents? Come on, Aono. You know this.”
“I ain’t know a whole lotta nothin’,” Mizore gave a small shrug. Aono playfully smacked her arm. “Stop. But I mean, like okay- accidents happen. But no one knows the name of the kids that were on that list. I think they’re hidin’ somethin’ in this side of the school.”
“You think they faked a bunch of fake kids’ deaths in order to work on something secret in a school?” Now both of Mizore’s eyebrows were up and her bitch face was back.
“I mean, yeah somethin’ like-”
“Just because we haven’t heard of those kids doesn’t mean a thing. They could’ve been underclassmen we never interacted with. Plus why wouldn’t they just shut it down for repairs if they wanted an excuse? Why fake deaths? And why, in the name of the nine tailed beast, would they work on something secret in the school? And who even is they anyway? I’m serious, Aono- you need to stop-”
“Mizore. Look.”
Aono was pointing in front of him as the ghostly light began to grow. Mizore spun around, her hair whipping around her face. The orb-like entity was floating a few feet above the ground and was growing brighter. Whether it was because it was getting closer or because it was just getting brighter, Aono didn’t know.
“What the-” Mizore whispered to herself and took a step closer. Aono’s hand immediately sought her’s out and interlaced their fingers. A small heat rose to his cheeks, but he ignored it. Give it a ghostly ball of energy for him to finally make a move with Mizore.
She stopped when he took her hand. She glanced back and gave a nervous smile, “Looks like you were right for once.”
“I’ve been right more times than once,” He whispered, suddenly scared of being too loud.
“Okay, maybe twice.” Aono gave a small laugh.
“Yeah, shut up.” Despite his words, his lips held a small smile and his cheeks were slowly getting warmer. They stared at each other for a few seconds before Aono realized that Mizore was growing in definition- a light shining brighter and brighter on her. “Mizore, it’s behind-”

A ways away, a gang of students sat under a tree on the campus of their school. Some had dyed hair, reds and oranges, while others’ uniforms were stained and altered. They all sat or stood or leaned in a circle, able to speak openly to one another. Their conversation ceased. A loud, piercing scream came from inside of the school.
“What do, I mean- that was loud. What do you think it was though?” The biggest asked. The rest couldn’t answer.