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Chapter Seven: Evasive Action
I know that much. Although, that should be a fairly easy thing to discern. I mean, I suppose I could be dreaming. But I'm not. I'm awake. But something is wrong. My new found nemesis has yet to make an appearance. I haven’t opened my eyes. But I know. The sun is lurking out there. Waiting. Plotting. It's just waiting for me to open my eyes so it can blind me through the unshielded window I so graciously left it. Or it's too early.
I decide to throw caution to the wind and crack open my eyes. Thankfully, I am not met with another illuminated battering. A hint of light seeps through my window, but only enough to cast shadows into my darkened room. It must be really early. Probably around the time I would get up anyway. But this time I actually have some sleep under my belt. And I don't feel entirely awful. A downgrade from mostly awful, at least. A little awful?
My body aches as I swing my legs out of bed. Yep, still a little awful. I must have slept funny.
Still, I can't remember the last time I felt even remotely this refreshed. All it took was an exhausting two days and a completely embarrassing ideational incident in front of someone. Not a terrible compromise, I suppose. Now things can get back to normal. Or abnormal. Whatever counts in my case.
Although, I can't knock the sleep. I'll keep that.
It won't be easy. With Kiyomi here now, things won't be exactly as I'd like them. But she's a second year. I will never see her. Not often enough to be disruptive at any rate. Hell, after a few weeks she probably won't even remember I'm here. She is a smart and...well, attractive...young woman. She will have her hands full. Probably a whole slew of new friends. Getting confessed to by every boy in her class. She won't need ol' Yuuma's help.
No, she will be fine. Can't say the same for me, though.
My sleep schedule may be looking better, but there are still so many things I need to catch up on. I can barely make out the outline of my desk in the darkness, but I know a pile of backlogged classwork is lurking somewhere in the shadows. Well, I have two hours to kill before class. Couldn't hurt, right?
I rise and navigate the piles of clothes and other assorted items left in the various piles around my room. I flip on the lights and take the next few moments to let my eyes adjust. I open my eyes and attempt to locate my books. Ah, that's right. I was going to clean up. So I could find my books. So I can do my work. Honestly, I wonder if I subconsciously set these things up like this. Make everything chain into each other. Knock everything out at once. Then again, if I do, the setup hurts as much as helps. Can't count how many times I have used my complete lack of organization as an excuse not to do work. Oh well. Worked out this time.
Surprisingly, I don't completely hate what I'm doing. There is something refreshing about cleaning up after a long time. Makes everything feel like it's going to be better.
I freeze halfway bent over, a pair of socks hanging limply in my hand.
Huh. That's strange.
I almost feel like I'm in a good mood. Like, really good. That's new. Not sure if I like it. Must be all the sleep at regular intervals. Is it strange that I consider this strange?
But it's a step up, isn't it? Nothing wrong with feeling a little happy. Or maybe it's not really happiness. Maybe what I'm feeling is just better than normal. Either way, if it means I actually get some shit done, I'm on board. Sign me up. I'll take two.
After locating my textbooks, in varying degrees of condition and...smell, I set about doing over a week's worth of homework and assignments. I decide to knock out English first. Not my best subject, but far from my worst. I spare a hateful glare at my chemistry textbook. Your time will come, my old foe. And such a reckoning it will be!
Damn, this is hard. Doesn't help that I don't even recall learning this material. Sleeping in class tends to have that effect.
I sigh and rub my temples. This would most likely be impossible for me even if I had been paying attention. Who's bright idea was it to add math to elements? Formulas make no
sense. Math I can do. This...this nonsense is some poor excuse for a science. Not even a science, really. Just a headache.
Pushing away the assignment, I slide back from my desk. That's enough of that. I don't care how well I think I am doing this morning, I am not
going to get anywhere with chemistry. Eh, I did enough, anyway. I tried. That should be enough.
I still have a seemingly unending amount of schoolwork left, but there is no way I am going to complete any of it before class. Sparing a glance at the clock I realize I have just enough time to snag some food before heading out. I wonder if any of that bread is left?
After a quick trek to the dorm kitchen I find the same unattended loaf of bread as yesterday. A few boys walk past here and there, on their way out or back in for whatever reason before class, but the kitchen remains silent.
I slip out two slices and place them into one of the many toasters lining the counter. I let out a yawn as the bread heats up. I wonder if Makoto is going to be less of a passive aggressive idiot today? Hopefully. As much as I am dreading it, he needs a talking to. Maybe at before-
The toaster chimes and the toasted bread pops out the top. Before I can reach for it a rustling comes from the pantry. I freeze in place and lean toward the noise. There is definitely something in there. Do we have rats?
What the hell?
The pantry bursts open and a blur of orange and red flies out amidst several cans and other dry foods.
“Ha! Caught you red handed!”
I look down, dumbfounded at the sight before me. Kenji, if I remember the name right, is scrambling around of the floor, desperately trying to rise. A pasta strainer adorns his head like a helmet, while he holds a toilet brush in one hand. Is he wearing combat boots?
Kenji finally finds purchase and rises. He strikes a wide and triumphant pose, toilet brush extended in front of him like Excalibur itself. “You thought we wouldn't notice the raids on our food supply?! But nothing gets past me! Now surrender the bread and yield to me your secrets! When is the invasion?!”
I cock my head and stare down at him as he rambles off a thousand words a second.
“Don't make me get out the torture tools! Give me something! Troop movements, supply information, locations of officers! Where do you keep your weapons? What have you done with Chuck Norris? Come on, speak up, feminist scum!”
I sigh. “Um...Kenji, right?”
The toilet brush slackens in his hands. He leans forward and examines me through his coke bottle glasses. “You are a little tall for a feminist, aren't you?”
He tentatively pokes me with the brush.
“Hey! Cut that out!” I exclaim as I swat the brush away.
Kenji retreats a few steps. “You're not a feminist! You're that giant from the third floor.”
Huh, that's a new one, I think.
“Kenji, what the hell are you doing?”
“I received reliable intel that the feminists were stealing our food rations.”
This guy is nuts. I had heard that he was a little unbalanced, but I had never spoken more than two words to the guy. But this...is he seeing a therapist? Do I get a discount for referrals? Hey, Doc! Got a new one for you. He's just like me, but actually crazy! Have fun.
“Nope. Just me.” And probably everyone else in the building. Who leaves their bread unattended and doesn't expect someone to eat it?
Kenji's jaw drops as he swiftly jumps back into an offensive posture, the toilet brush once again raised for an attack. “So you do
work for them!”
I swear to God, if this kid takes a swipe at me with that thing...
“I knew you were a feminist operative! I've seen you colluding with one of their lieutenants in the dead of night!”
What the...does he mean Emi? Has he been following me in the mornings? This guy needs help. Emi, some sort of feminist ringleader? That's just...huh...actually...
“What did they promise you? Money? Power? Cause once the bombs drop, that all means diddly crap, my man!”
What do they say about not waking sleepwalkers? I'm not sure if that exactly applies here, but this needs to end before he says something that might actually make sense.
Just lean into it. Go with the flow. Walk into the light.
I step forward and gently push the brush down and away. “Be quiet! Do you want to get us both killed?”
I lean in and whisper harshly, “You are going to blow my cover, idiot!”
Kenji stands there for a moment, flabbergasted. Is this the first time someone has played his little game?
“You're...you're a double agent!” He exclaims, his tone as much a question as a statement.
I sigh and back away. “I have no idea what you mean.”
He cocks his head at me before the realization sinks in. “Yeah...right. Of course.” Kenji straightens his pasta strainer helmet and back peddles slowly. “Well, thank you for that...thing...see you later...friend.”
For some reason I feel my quickened heartbeat. That was a bit fun. I'm not sure whether it was the profuse lying or all the spy talk, but I briefly enjoyed that. That can't
I take a nibble of my illegally acquired toast. That guy has a few loose screws, but at least he helped pass the time. A little unnerving that he has been tracking my movements, though. Not sure how I feel about that. A normal person might be angry or scared, but I can't really place how I feel about his stalking. At least, I should be concerned. Is it weird that I'm a little flattered? Am I that narcissistic?
That is a bit troubling. I might actually have to bring this up at my next appointment. Equally troubling.
I shake my head as if to dispel the thoughts.
Whatever. Over. Done with. Today didn't start off like complete crap. Let's get back to that. Got some work done, had an interesting breakfast, nothing wrong with that. No specifics. Just the way I like it.
I shove the remaining food into my mouth and head for class. As I walk across the grounds I can't shake the feeling that I had forgotten something. Just one of those nagging feelings in the back of my mind. I'm missing something.
But I'm determined to make today not awful. Whatever it was, it can't be that important, right?
Forgetting about forgetting, I head up to the third floor and make my way to class. Makoto's desk is vacant by the time I walk into 3-4. Strange. He usually would be here by now. So much for talking to him before class.
I take my seat and mindlessly stare off into the room. Emi is still MIA. I can hear Rin two seats behind me, her pencil scratching furiously across paper. Two rows over I can hear Jun tearing into someone about something regarding Tanabata. That guy needs to chill out. I swear he's competing with Shizune for most annoying class rep.
I suddenly remember my conversation with Takara yesterday. Huh, I guess I forgot. That...that might have been bad.
Sighing, I rise and stride over to where Jun is standing. He towers over Hatsu's desk, leaning in and practically shouting. “I havn't been told any such thing! No one ever tells me crap! Shizune gives me the cold shoulder and little miss amazonian doesn't deem it fit to keep me in the loop. And do not get me started on 3-1...”
Hatsu sits calmly at her desk, arms crossed and eyes straight ahead. “Well, I had only assumed you already knew.”
Jun lets out a frustrated sigh and runs his fingers through his jet black hair. “Well, I didn't. You have any idea what I, what we
, as a class will have to do now to get it all done in time?”
Hatsu shrugs. “Nope.”
I stand a few paces away, almost afraid to interrupt. Mostly because I can't shake the feeling that I...might?
...be at fault here. Maybe. Who knows? Do we really know anything? Nope, we sure don't. I think I will just go sit back down.
Did I just cringe? I think I might have. Good lord.
“Yes?” I ask as I turn back to Jun.
“Did you have something to say?”
Oh, well. Had a good run. Go out with a bang. “Yes. Takara said to turn in your paperwork to 3-1 as soon as possible.”
Jun closes his eyes and rubs his temples. “And when did she say this?”
I snap to attention and give a sloppy salute. “Yesterday, sir!”
Instead of an explosion, I'm met with Jun slinking back down into his own chair. “Well, thank you for the timely update, then.”
“Yeah, sorry about that. Slipped my mind,” I halfheartedly chuckle.
Jun grunts and waves at me in dismissal. “Not like it would have mattered. Those three girls keep me so far out of the loop that I am honestly surprised we get anything done.”
Am I about to engage the class rep? Yes. Someone stop me. Engaging...
Damn. Damn it. If Makoto were here, this wouldn't have happened. I could be back at my desk, staring at a quality wall. Some very wealthy people payed a lot of money for us to have walls worth staring at. But no. Makoto isn't here. I actually feel sociable. And I am currently engaging in conversation with our class rep about the affairs of the school.
What. Is. Happening to me?!
“Those harpies decided to pick out our stall for us it seems.”
Pushing aside my internal melodrama, I find myself actually curious. “I thought we had that all squared away? Water pistols or something, right?”
Hatsu barks out a laugh. “Apparently, that was already taken. Because someone didn't file their paperwork fast enough.”
Jun stares daggers at Hatsu for a moment before letting out some very obvious frustration. “I had it all done! We already built the damn thing last weekend, but that doesn't matter apparently! Community project, they called it. All fair game, it seems. We didn't get the memo. 3-2 got the water pistol range. We will be running a little quiz show game. Whoop dee do.”
As much as that would suck from his side, I can't really see how this is such a big deal. “So we run a quiz game. So what?”
Jun laughs. “Oh, did I forget to mention? That particular stall isn't built. Whoops! Guess we have to do it. In two days. With little to no help from Miss Student Council President.”
Hm, that would suck. Not my problem. Hopefully.
“That is basically what they told me. A big F you, if you ask me.”
I back away slowly. “Sure does sound that way.”
Jun shakes his head and mumbles something to himself. I quickly and quietly slide myself into my seat. Crisis averted.
“Quite down, Kuno.” Nomiya grumbles as he enters, Emi rushing in only seconds ahead of him.
Jun coughs and bows his head. Thank you, Nomiya, you pink suited weirdo. Might have saved me a lot of grunt work. Now to just avoid Jun for the rest of the day. Easy.
The empty desk next to me troubles me, though. I can't recall the last time Makoto wasn't in class. I shouldn't be worried. But I can't stop the little bit of worry from joining that forgetful tingling in the back of my mind. He better not have done something stupid.
From the front Nomiya starts blabbing on about something. “For this assignment, you will need to turn to page 263 in your textbooks.”
I sigh and reach down to my nonexistent backpack. After getting a handful of air I realize I can't even default to Makoto this time for help. Son of a bitch.
I raise my hand in resignation.
Nomiya stares at me, then my empty desk. I'm not sure what the look of someone who has completely given up on someone looks like...but I think I have a better idea now.
“Iwasaki, pair with Jun and Hatsu for this assignment.”
Before I walk to the funeral of my free time that Nomiya unwittingly sent me to, I offer a silent prayer to whatever god might be listening.
What did I do to piss you off? Was it something I said? Come on, God, Buddha, Vishnu, Universe. Throw me a freakin' bone.
But, maybe...maybe he won't ask me to help.
I sit down at the empty desk and smile weakly at Hatsu and Jun.
“So, Iwasaki. I was thinking that if we all pitched in...”
Jun's words fade away as my head plops down onto the desk.
This is all Makoto's fault.
Sorry about the delay, folks. But excuses do no one any good, so I won't waste precious seconds and bytes of information doing such. I am getting back into the swing of things over here and hope to be regularly releasing chapters again.