Editor: TaintedDreams, Vysne, Gingery Klaus, Skythewood, Namorax, SifaV6
I thought it was just an ordinary earthquake at first.
Then the desks started to rattle and shake violently, and that moment, Literature teacher Urabe shouted “Everyone, get under the desks!”.
The lights went out and then everything plunged into darkness. The thought that raced through my mind was that even if the lights went out, it shouldn’t be this dark, because it was daytime right now.
The time was about 11:20 AM. I can attest to it as I was enjoying reading while bathing in a ray of light that came in from between the curtains at the prime seating position at the left side in the back of the classroom. It was a clear day without a single speck of cloud.
Even if clouds covered the sun or if there was an eclipse, it shouldn’t be completely dark. But there was only pitch-black darkness.
Did it suddenly become night time? But how?
I tried to re-orient myself, but it was nigh impossible with the earthquake still going on.
It did not feel safe just staying still, but it wasn’t safe to move until the intense shaking had stopped. The only thing I could do was to crouch under the desk and wait for this damn earthquake to end.
I bit my lower lip. I felt helpless against this immense power that I couldn’t do anything about. I could have just skipped the class and not come to something like Modern Literature Class. Why did I even decide to actually attend?
Ah, I thought it was a good opportunity to read.
What was in my hand was Hannah Arendt’s “Responsibility and Judgement”. I planned to read this classic work leisurely this afternoon.
Of course, I was still reading it. Just a couple of pages ahead would have been a section on “Indifference to Evil”.... but now wasn’t the time to read. Thinking positive thoughts during emergencies like an earthquake, where anything can happen, was a form of avoiding the reality, too.
It was painful to just crouch under the desk in darkness while hoping not to get swept away by everything that was going on. I couldn’t help but think that I might die.
I never got to be a somebody and never did anything in my life.
After living my life like flowing water, was this going to be the end? Nobody would criticize me for how I lived, but I still felt angry.
As if responding to my anger, the shaking intensified and the desks creaked even more. Inside the class that was filled with darkness, shouts and screams, there was a sound of something collapsing. It was like the inside of a ship being swept up by a storm. The entire classroom shook violently as if it had been tossed out into the ocean in a typhoon.
If the shaking became more intense, the building would collapse and everybody would be crushed to death. I could only imagine thoughts like that while everything continued to shake around me.
I’m going to die. Everybody’s going to die. While anticipating for death, I could feel a laughter swelling from deep inside.
It wasn’t a bravado. While I didn’t want to die, I thought maybe this kind of accursed death was a fitting end for someone like me. I kept thinking this in the dark.
I really didn’t want to die, but if I died, then at least everything annoying in the world would end.
This fear, this anger, this annoyance that was hard to bear, everything would disappear if he died. I wouldn’t need to think about annoying things anymore. It’ll definitely be comfortable
What do I care about what happens to the world after I die. Everything was hilarious when thinking from that angle.
Alright, kill me. Let me rest now.
The moment I thought that, the shaking stopped as if it had never happened in the first place.
I let out a deep sigh. I knew something like this would happen.
Life was like that. People who wanted to survive with all their might die for no reason, and those who have no reason to keep on living somehow survive.
Of course, I’m the latter.
Even though I don’t even have a special reason to keep on living, I keep clinging to life at the thought of death.
But so long as I’m alive, I need to keep on living. It’s already been 132 years since the god died.1 There was no salvation in this kind of world.
“Are you alright?” “Why’s it so dark? Is someone there?” “Can you turn on the light?”
Several flashes of light peered out from the darkness.
Of course, everybody had a convenient source of light called a smartphone.
I took out my smartphone as well. I unlocked the faintly glowing pattern screen and first thing I checked was… there was no signal. Calling for help wasn’t an option. The school was in middle of the city. If there wasn’t any signal, did it mean the nearby signals tower was destroyed or damaged in the earthquake?
Or did the classroom move to somewhere a signal couldn’t reach? Next, I checked the time. 11:26 AM. The shake, which felt like it had gone on for so long, had only lasted for 5 minutes.
Then the date. That was normal as well. There was nothing like time travelling into Sengoku-era that’s so common in manga. No, even if there was a time travel, there wasn’t a guarantee that the smartphone calendar would be magically connected to it.
But we were trapped in darkness, so there was a chance that outside might be nighttime. Time travel was just a joke, but I needed to confirm.
I froze after shining the light outside through a window. I opened the window with scratching sound and reached out with my hand. The outside of the window was packed with rocks. The reason why it was so dark was because the windows were blocked by the rocks.
Are we trapped in the classroom? This wasn’t some “between rock and a hard place” joke. This wasn’t a funny situation. I could almost feel my head draining of blood.
It felt like I was in some Sci-Fi world, but now wasn’t the time to avoid reality. So what had caused this? Did some gigantic boulder collide with the school because of the earthquake? If so, the intense shaking that felt as if it was about to blow away the school could be explained.
But, wait a moment. If that’s the case, why was the glass left intact?
If a gigantic rock had smashed against the school, all the glass would have broken from the shock. It wouldn’t be strange if the windowsills had broken as well.
Then did the rocks just sprout from the ground as result of tectonic activity…. No, that’s not quite right.
I touched the rock, and it was cool and smooth as if it had been there for a long time. Upon closer inspection with the smartphone light, it was a wall made with stone bricks in fashion similar to a ruin.
“Oi, I can’t turn on the lights. What’s going on!”
The student who was clicking away at the light switch shouted and interrupted my thought. I’m the one who should be saying “what’s going on!”. But in the crappy game called “life” nobody gives out answers for free. I suppose it couldn’t be helped.
I turned on my smartphone’s flashlight app and looked around me. Because of the intense shaking, desks had fallen over and stationery was scattered everywhere. Even the lockers had fallen over and were spilling out their contents. That must have been the source of the loud noises.
Instinctively, I grabbed a mop from the cleaning supplies that were scattered on the floor. Just in case I needed it.
I sidestepped the teacher who was trying to make sure everybody was safe, and classmates who were at a loss, and carefully treaded around the debris to exit the classroom.
I felt like there was light coming from the hallway… but lost my words when I saw it. It wasn’t the school hallway. It was a stone hallway like an RPG dungeon.
The wall was built with stone blocks. They were just like the stones I had touched earlier. It was smooth and cold to the touch, giving off an atmosphere of a real cave.
The faint glow of light I noticed earlier were torches. The iron torch holders kept the torches in place.
I took one of the torches to take a closer look. The end of the stick was wrapped in some kind of cloth that must have been dipped in something. Judging by the unique smell that didn’t seem artificial, I judged it to be something like resin.
Who would…. old iron tools, brand new torches… None of these would be here without someone around to maintain them.
The school hallway turned into some sort of a dungeon or a ruin’s hallway. Looking down the tunnel, there were torches at regular intervals. I didn’t know who, but somebody took meticulous care into illuminating this area.
“Seki, did you come out, too?”
Seki Midori. He’s a classmate from the same First Grade, F Class and someone I can say is my only friend. He wore the uniform all clasped up until his neck, and had very gender-neutral looking face almost to the point someone could mistake him for a girl. He really was a tidy looking, white skinned and slim bishonen.
Seki had long black hair, that almost looked bluish, extending down to his shoulder. If I look closer at his eyes, his large pupils looked green under the torch light.
But, Midori. He couldn’t have had a name that was more girly. He was usually calm and nice, but got angry every time someone called him by his name.
If someone tried to say “That’s a really girly name….”, he’d probably attack no matter who the opponent was. I didn’t care much about what would happen to my face, but Seki’s slender arm looked like it could break, so I never said anything.
“I saw you go out and followed you, Shinjo-kun!”
“You’ve got keen eyes as usual to spot me in the dark. Seki, let’s take a look around for a bit.”
I walked down the stone tunnel with Seki.
The cold air really made it feel like a dungeon.
There were students from other classes wandering outside as well. I didn’t know any of them. Probably from Class E. I ignored them and continued on.
The First Grade had 6 classes; A, B, C, D, E, F. It was divided by scores from entrance exam.
In terms of breasts, F was the best, but the class Seki and I were in, Class F, was dead last in terms of grades.
Since my highschool was one of the top high schools in the prefecture, not everyone in Class F was stupid either. But there were hierarchies in the school, and Class F was looked down upon.
Class F was made up of delinquents (and even half-assed delinquents who weren’t really troublemakers either), people who are repeating the grade for some reason, or people who were lazy and didn’t put in any effort like me.
Seki had a chronically weak body and didn’t feel so good during the class assignment exams. Otherwise, he would have been in higher up classes.
If there was something strange going on, it might be best if only Class F was involved. However, after checking the stone hallway with a torch, all the first grade classes from A to F were present.
I hope this didn’t happen to the entire school. I wonder what happened to the 2nd year, 3rd year and Staff Room as well.
I don’t think the entire school turned into a dungeon. If that was the case, the classes would have turned into stone as well and not just the hallways. The scale was also too big to be someone’s prank. There were too many impossible things from a logical point-of-view.
It would be more natural to think that the classrooms and the rooms in the dungeon swapped place via some sort of teleportation. Teleportation with ESP. Metastasis or transference with magic. They were all un-scientific, but it was the most logical way to think all of this was caused by magic.
If I had to give a scientific explanation, then I must have either been exposed to some kind of gas or was under hypnosis. I also considered the possibility that this was just a very realistic dream, so I pinched my cheek and picked up a stone, but I could feel the pain from pinching my cheek and the stone felt real.
“Seki, do you feel anything strange about the environment?”
“You’re suspecting that we’re in some sort of virtual reality or under mass hypnosis, right? Can you swing your torch sideways a couple of times?”
I swung the torch sideways while walking.
Seki tilted his head a little bit before smiling.
“From what I can see, the swinging seems real. I’ll throw a rock… Looking at the trajectory, it seems the gravity is roughly the same as earth.”
“How can you figure out the gravity by just throwing a rock!”
“Well, I like trajectories, so I look at them often. I don’t think my guess is wrong.”
….. Liking trajectories. I don’t think I can understand genius people.
Seki was in the school’s Science Research Club and qualified for 1st Class Exam (For people who actually knew the average level university and highschool stuff + linear algebra, analysis and statistics) even though he was just in the 1st grade. .
I don’t know how great this 1st Class Exam is, but one thing that was for certain was that Seki was a genius who excelled in cold, logical calculations and mathematics. He even qualified for a Math Olympics and managed to get pretty far too. It was strictly limited to numerative stuff, but he was very talented.
“You come up with interesting stuff as always, Seki. I didn’t even consider that this might not be earth.”
“I imagine about warping to another planet, but since there might be people who are injured, now’s not the time.”
For me, who likes games, my approach was more in the terms of an RPG, but for Seki, sci-fi seemed to be the analysis point. Rather than thinking that we had gone crazy…. it was better to think this was a sci-fi or fantasy world.
But what was the cause of this phenomenon? And if someone caused it, why? It wasn’t something I was too concerned with because dealing with reality was the bigger problem.
I checked each class and after passing Class A, ran into a wall. It seemed to be the end of the tunnel, so when I turned around to go back, I ran into the person I least wanted to meet.
I let out a voice unconsciously.
Her silhouette was clear against the dimly lit hallway, so I knew who she was immediately
Long and glossy black hair with round eyes and double eyelids. A very organized and dignified face. Her short and slim figure went well with her pleat skirt and white sailor suit.
The girls’ uniforms were very visible in the dark, probably because they were white. I tried to pretend I didn’t see her and go around, but it was a futile attempt.
“Aah! Wataru-kun! I’m so glad you’re ok. You came to check on me first! Ah, as expected of my fated counterpart.”
“Nobody came to see you, virgin whore.”
The virgin whore. First Year, Class A, Vice-Class President, Kujo Kumiko. I’m the only one who calls the girl whose nickname is “ojou-san” a “virgin bitch”. Overall, Kumiko is ranked number 2 in the grade and is an exemplary student in Class A as well. On top of that, she’s also the ojou-san of the well known Kujo family, as well as a beauty.
She was just a first year, but her abilities were coveted and she’s even part of the Student Council. She’s also famed for her excellent manners, deportment, athleticism and intelligence, as well of being beautiful.
The fact she was petite was a bit of a minus, but her figure was slender and her face rivalled idols. There were many people who like beautiful and pure looking girls like her, which is why she had a lot of fans in the school.
From the outside, she may look like a heroine, but beneath that layer, her real identity was a perverted sow. I learned that Kumiko was just acting like a pure ojou-san after a certain incident, and she started following me around at an increasing rate since then.
The fact Kumiko chased me around everywhere made me glad that she and I were not in the same class. I like pure and beautiful girls, but a clingy bitch wasn’t my thing.
“Kumiko really felt scared!”
“Shut up, you rotten whore.”
Kumiko hugged me tight despite my protest. I could feel her warmth and softness. She looked slim, but the soft sensation of her breasts proved that she was indeed a girl. Well, it might have been a given, since she was pressing her chest up against my arm.
I could only stand there since I was holding a torch with my right hand and a mop with my left. I stood still because it was dangerous with a torch in my hand, but she was really taking advantage of the situation.
She went ahead and with “Hnnng~” sound resembling a broken vacuum, and edged closer with her lips.
This was the limit to my patience.
“Oi, Kumiko, if you don’t stop joking around…. I’m going to set you on fire.”
“Seriously…. don’t get so mad. It’s only a joke. Even I won’t mess around in situations like this.”
You were clearly messing around.
But I guess it couldn’t be helped even if I tell that virgin whore.
“So, Wataru-kun, what do you make of this situation?”
“Right… after the earthquake settled down, we walked the tunnel from Class F to A. The wall’s blocked off here, but there’s a pathway towards the Class F’s direction. That’s the only thing I’m certain of.”
“So that means we can only go that way.”
“Probably. I just want to make sure, but what happened to Class A’s windows?”
“It’s blocked off by rocks”
“Then I guess there’s no way out there.”
The young mistress Kujo was as smart as always. She already took notice of many things, so it was easy to talk to her. She probably thought the same as us and took the nearest opportunity to come out of the classroom.
“Then, let’s go quick!”
“You… Stop hugging my arm and let go. Do you want to die?”
When I spoke with anger, Kumiko pouted her lips and let my arm go reluctantly. Stop it with this picnic-like attitude, seriously. There were several students who came out of the classroom and were wandering about. It likely meant that windows in other classes were blocked by rocks as well.
It was rare for Kumiko, who cared a great deal about how she appeared in front of others, to openly come onto me in public. Maybe she was just pretending to be like her usual self, but was actually scared.
Still, it was annoying for me to deal with.
Seki was looking at the conversation between me and Kumiko dumbstruck.
It was a huge mistake to run into Kumkio while both my hands were occupied. I shouldn’t have checked all the way to Class A. But it was too late to complain now.
As I went back the way I came from, there were several teachers discussing on what to do next. They didn’t seem to care that we were doing our own things. They were talking with serious looks on their face, and probably didn’t have the time to pay attention to us.
I continued on to the passage in front of Class F.
There was a large plaza made of stone at the end of the tunnel. It wasn’t particularly different, but there were more torches lighting the area. I spoke to Seki who was trying to go forward.
“Hold on, Seki. Don’t just walk in like that.”
“But we’re going there anyways.”
“I’m just saying be careful. If the path suddenly widens like this, we need to be careful about it.”
“You worried about a trap or a monster like in RPG games?”
Seki spoke in joking voice, but didn’t smile. His fear was evident from twitching at the corner of his mouth. Traps and monsters, it was all possible in this situation.
“There’s three of us, but only one mop and one torch. It’s kinda unnerving with bare hands. We should look for something that we can use as weapons before we go any further.”
“What are you talking about, Shinjo-kun. You’re joking about monsters, right?”
Seki seemed to get scared the more he talked about it. It really couldn’t be helped.
“Seki, you have good eyes. Although you probably won’t be able to do anything about monsters, you can look out for traps, right?”
“Right. I already saw a spot that seems quirky. That little spot right there.”
I could see a line on the stone floor where Seki pointed to. It was on the left side from the centre of the plaza. I never saw it, but Seki managed to find it with just dim light from the torch.
“You and your senses really are reliable, Seki. Alright, let’s poke around that area with the mop.”
“Eh, don’t! It’s dangerous!”
“Wataru-kun, I’ll do it.”
Kumiko grabbed the mop from my hand and poked around the area that looked like a trap. Kumiko was a very decisive girl. There was no opportunity to stop her.
I looked around. Even if the switch for the trap was over there, there was no guarantee that the trap would be placed only in that area.
There was a good possibility something would happen elsewhere.
While we stood nervously, something made a ‘clank’ sound.
- Referring to Referring to Fredrick Nietzsche's quote, "God is dead".