Get Ahead

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You couldn't sleep a wink that night. You did everything in your power to give yourself a little sense of security. You double- and triple-checked that all the doors and windows in your house were locked. You kept your bedroom light on all night.

You just barely held yourself back from barricading your bedroom door and window. If the killer still managed to find a way in, you'd be trapped inside with them. Also, how would you pee in the middle of the night?

You tried to stay active, tried not to think of your mortal doom. Instead, you did the homework you'd been procrastinating, caught up on reading, writing, drawing... But time slowed to a crawl, and soon you had nothing left to do but think.

In the late hours of the night, you laid on your back in bed and thought about Tomie, how she'd been killed, cut up, and had her pieces scattered yet still came into class the next day, alive and whole.

What would the look on Minoru's face be if you did the same? It was wistful thinking on your part... Just the last, crazed thoughts of a girl all but sentenced to death.

You begged and pleaded Aina's mom to drive you into school the next morning, but she kept insisting that she couldn't, she'd be late for work.

What's worse: being a little late to work one day or losing your only child? You wanted to scream and cry, but instead you just swallowed around the lump in your throat and nodded in defeat.

Dead girl walking, you thought as you trudged down the sidewalk. You kept your eyes up and your head on a swivel.

Was Aina murdered in the morning, not the night before? That left the killer a tight schedule in which to chop her up and spread her pieces around Haruki High.

What if they didn't attack today? Did that mean you succeeded, got off scot-free? Or were they just waiting for the perfect moment to strike?

Am I just delaying the inevitable? It truly didn't matter. You'd take every second, every breath of life you could before it was taken away from you.

Lo and behold, you were not snatched into an alleyway and stabbed to death on your way to school. You must have an angel in heaven looking down on you.

You got to school early so there was no threat of running into any of the girls, who were usually just barely on time.

Once you had finished up at your locker, you headed to the classroom.

It was completely dark. All the window blinds had been lowered, allowing barely enough of the morning light in for you to see around the desks. And the automatic lights wouldn't turn on until you reached the middle of the room.

Through the dim, you could make out... Something... Sitting on your desk. Or was it Hiro's desk? Or Minoru's? It was hard to tell without everyone in their assigned seats.

You approached cautiously, in case this was some kind of distraction, some kind of trap. Even from only a couple feet away, you couldn't make out what the black lump was.

The automatic lights chose that moment to switch on, shedding light on what you were seeing.

It was Hiro's severed head, lying on its side. His eyes had been gouged out and replaced with two blood-red roses. Another two roses were peaking out of his mouth. Their thorny stems were strung through the bloody stump where his throat once was.

Over the ringing in your ears, you heard someone scream. It wasn't until you put your hands up to your mouth to keep from gagging that you realized it was you. You were screaming, wailing at the top of your lungs.

You felt someone grab your shoulders and forcibly turn you away from the grisly sight. You fought at first, thinking it was Minoru or Oshiro, but went boneless when you saw it was Ms Yume, wearing an equally appalled but more composed expression.

She was speaking but you couldn't tell what she was saying over your own screaming.

Eventually, she gave up trying to communicate with you and all but dragged you from the classroom.

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