Chapter 1: Part 3
So I mean, getting all my time taken up by fighting with Megalo meant that my preparations for the school festival hadn’t gone anywhere at all. But considering the school festival was coming in two days, I was getting a bit panicked.
Once I told Haruna I was going back to school, she responded with “Ah, I got something to do too!” Her ahoge boinged into the shape of an exclamation mark and she disappeared off to somewhere.
Seriously, I never knew what that girl was thinking…
I turned completely around and headed back to school. I stopped by a convenience store to buy some tea and bread in preparation for what promised to be a long night, and then finally arrived at the completely dark school building…
Hm? There was still a single light on, and in my classroom…
Was there still somebody there doing something…? Well, maybe I should go and share a bit of my food then. I broke into a small spring as I headed for my classroom.
I put my hand on the doorknob, but then a single worry gripped me.
What if I opened the door and there was a guy and a girl making out in there?
I knocked loudly a few times, and after waiting a bit I softly opened the door.
I could see the darkness of night outside the window. The classroom was absolutely silent, to the point where any small sound could be heard.
And in that classroom was… my homeroom teacher, as well as the pretty girl with the pigtails, Hiramatsu.
They didn’t look like a couple at all. Geez, I was worried for nothing.
“It’s just… you two?”
“Hiramatsu is helping out with the task you completely neglected.”
There was strong blame hidden in those words.
I see… so Hiramatsu was here making the sign I had left unfinished… even though everyone else had left.
As expected from an honors student. She was just overflowing with kindness.
“Sorry. Something came up and I had to leave… I’ll finish the rest by myself.”
“Eh? …… Ah…… I see……”
For some reason, Hiramatsu seemed a bit lonely. The other random guy in the room sighed.
“Are you an idiot, Aikawa? We’re not at the point where you can finish this alone.”
… Indeed, he was quite right.
“Aikawa-kun… umm… I… sorry. Please… let me help.”
That’s… ugh, I didn’t want to, but, when a meek girl like that looked up at me with those eyes of hers and asked me to let her help…
“I got it. Please help me, Hiramatsu.”
“O-Okay! … Thank you, Aikawa-kun.”
“Haha, why is the person helping out saying thanks? Thanks to you too, Hiramatsu.”
“Well, maybe sensei will go to the staff room and drink a bit then…”
This damn teacher…
“Please help us finish.”
I glared at him and quickly said that. Be a bit more considerate of your students, dammit.
And so, the kind honors student, the brusque old man, and I began to make the sign at a quick pace.
“Take a look take a look!”
Once again, that genius bishoujo demon baroness masou shoujo had come.
She was carrying some huge thing covered with sheets at her side.
When she got to us, she put that strange thing in the middle of the classroom, in front of the lockers.
“What the hell is that huge thing…?”
I sighed and tore off the sheet.
And what I saw was… myself. Or no, it was a mannequin that looked exactly like me. His left hand was on his waist, his right hand was raised, and his lovable eyes were looking somewhere up and to the right.
… What the hell was this? Some kind of joke?
“I finally finished it! Isn’t this amazing?!”
She puffed out her sadly flat chest which had not bore fruit at all, and gave us a proud “tadaa~” while violently striking the mannequin (me). Like a daruma (1), the mannequin fell but then got right back up like some kind of punching bag.
By the way, why was the mannequin in the same pose I had seen in that old comedy sketch by the Tunnels?
Give me a break. My body might be rotten, but even zombies had some base level of shame.
“That’s… pretty amazing…”
Hiramatsu sounded impressed.
“How great for you…”
My homeroom teacher yawned and praised Haruna.
“If we’re doing a monster café, then you gotta have something gross like this!”
Wait, she was planning on leaving that here until the school festival?!
Give me a damn break. I wasn’t coming to school if she did that.
“No. Haruna, you can’t put this thing here. Take it and go home… actually, even if you put it back at our house that’d be bad! Just throw it right into the incinerator!”
“Ehh, but I worked really hard on this ya know!”
“Aikawa-kun… I think… it’s pretty cool.”
“Hiramatsu… ugh, crap! I almost got swept away there! Anyways, just get rid of it. Alright?”
“Ugh, not really!”
This damn idiot… I tried to get Haruna to get rid of the mannequin she had just brought, but she started grumbling about how it was too heavy so our homeroom teacher went with her. In the end, neither of them came back.
I could see Haruna getting sulky and going home, but that damn useless teacher… did he run away?
Hiramatsu didn’t seem to mind at all, and just continued working in silence.
If you asked me, what set apart an honors student from someone who wasn’t an honors student was just how well they could focus.
And boy could she focus. I couldn’t help but feel a lot of respect for her as I watched her squatting on top of those newspapers spread out over the floor, continuing to work.
“Well I can’t just stand here and let her win…”
I watched her pigtails swing to and fro while I took the same position over the newspapers and began to put my hands to work.
It only took a few minutes before I could feel a sense of tiredness seep into my hips. I really wanted to just roll down onto the floor and fall asleep.
“Aha… Aikawa-kun… you don’t… have to push yourself.”
“Alright, then I’ll take a nap then.”
“Fufu… it’s fine… hey, Aikawa-kun… we’re in the school at night… is your heart beating a bit faster too?”
“Yeah, it’s like seeing a familiar place in a completely different light…”
“Ahh… I just remembered. Did you know? This school building… in the past… it used to be a gravesite.”
“Oh? I didn’t know at all. Actually, I do remember that there’s a graveyard nearby…”
There was a graveyard that zombies would often as a regular hangout between my house and the school. For someone undead like me, it was nice to go to a graveyard and cool off.
“And they say… this school is haunted.”
“Well, I guess there would be a few monsters around. Like vampires and zombies and stuff.”
“Geez… Aikawa-kun… you don’t believe in ghosts?”
“I do believe in them. Actually, I’m already dead myself.”
“Ahah… Aikawa-kun… you’re a funny guy.”
“Does Hiramatsu believe in ghosts?”
“Hmm… I don’t want to believe in them… you know what they say… only people who believe can see them, right? Even though you can’t see the gods even if you believe in them… so…”
“By the way, what kinds of ghosts did you hear come out around here?”
“Eh? … A little girl… wearing white clothes… or something like that? She appears… at night in the science classroom… in a puff of smoke…”
“Hmm, well we’re here and it’s night… so it’d be nice if we could meet her.”
“Ooo… Aikawa-kun… you’re such a meanie…”
As we spoke of rumors like that, we proceeded with our work.
When the clock struck nine, we had finished a decent chunk of our work.
In the end, that damn good-for-nothing teacher hadn’t come back even once…
“Should we head home?”
“Yes… sure… should we continue… tomorrow?”
We finished cleaning up and picked up our schoolbags.
“Ah… we have to go tell Kurisu-sensei… that we’re going home.”
“Does it matter? I always just go home whenever I want.”
“But… we really should tell him.”
She was an honors student through and through.
We headed for the staff room to find our homeroom teacher. But we couldn’t see him.
Geez… he left his students here and just went off somewhere…
“M-Maybe… this is the work of a ghost…?”
Hiramatsu gripped my blazer tight.
“Ah, well, then Hiramatsu can go back first. I’ll find sensei and tell him.”
“Or we could go find the ghost together?”
“… Ugh! … Aikawa-kun!”
Hiramatsu pouted and gave me an angry look. “Don’t tease me!” she seemed to be saying. I sent her all the way to the shoeboxes, and watched her as she went out the school gate waving at me. And then, I turned back.
She said the science classroom, right? I believe in the existence of ghosts. There were definitely things like that in this world. And if that ghost was doing something suspicious night after night…
I headed right for the same science classroom where the rumors had originated.
The school was silent at night, and I could only hear the sounds of my footsteps echoing through the hallway.
Just this atmosphere was enough to convince me that a ghost might appear.
Oh? I stopped right in front of the science classroom. I looked inside through the glass part of the door, and saw what looked like smoke rising to the ceiling. Seriously? There really was a ghost here?
I put my hand on the doorknob, and confirmed that the door wasn’t locked.
I could feel alarm bells going off in my head as my heart began to beat fast. I was something like a ghost myself, so there was no reason for me to be afraid here… but for some reason I couldn’t help it in an atmosphere like this.
Krchhh… I opened the door and went inside, tensing my body to prepare myself for any attack that might be thrown in my direction. I looked around… the lights was off, so the room was pretty dark. But there was only one source of light. I could see the blue flame of an alcohol lamp, with a small netting placed on top of it.
And right next to it was sitting a girl wearing a white Gothic Lolita outfit.
“What the hell are you doing?!”
Was she doing some shady experiment or something? I quickly ran over in order to stop her.
Maybe because she suddenly was spoken to, but this girl ghost suddenly jumped in fright.
And then, the alcohol lamp and the netting on top both fell to the floor… geez, you’re a pretty bad ghost if you got scared like that.
The flame went out on the alcohol lamp when it fell to the floor, plunging the classroom into total darkness.
Relying on my memory from before the flame went out, I went over to where the girl was, and realized that she was quite a cute girl. She looked to be… a bit older than ten? She had such nice features, it was really a shame she was made to play a ghost… well, it’s not like I’ve ever heard a story featuring an unattractive ghost, so if you get rid of the bias that ghosts were supposed to be scary, I guess all ghosts were pretty-looking.
There was what looked to be a big bottle on the table. As I thought, she was doing some shady experiment, wasn’t she?
I began to ask her what she was doing, but the girl put a finger to her pursed lips. “Shhh!” she said. And then…
“This! Take this! Don’t tell anybody about this!”
She pushed a few paper bills into my hand. It seemed… she wasn’t the bad kind of ghost.
And then, she picked up the big bottle on the table.
Gulp gulp gulp. Completely ignoring my complaints, the girl drank right out of the bottle and sped right out of the classroom. I just stood there dumbfounded, and could only watch this entire scene unfold.
… Wait, was I supposed to be the one who cleaned all this mess up? Geez…
I picked up the alcohol lamp and the hot netting that was still being scorched by the flame. I saw that there was something else scattered on the floor.
What in the world could that ghost have been doing…? I timidly picked up that thing and squinted my eyes in the darkness.
“Why the hell was she grilling squid?!”
Yes, it was squid. She was using this science room to eat squid that she was grilling… what a weird ghost.
“They were doin’ that on Furuhata Ninzaburou! (1) Looked delicious!”
Why was she watching TV serials like Furuhata? Well, I guess life as a zombie wasn’t like how they made it out to be, so maybe life as a ghost was also surprisingly normal.
Wait, she was still here?! I turned around, but the girl had already vanished. It seemed like she had run quickly away.
And when I opened my hands… I realized that I wasn’t holding onto money, but coupons for some bar. Was he an old man?! The grilled squid… and then this… was he some old man?!
“Dontcha tell anybody I was here grilling squid! It’s a secret, ‘kay?!”
Dammit, if you’re going to disappear, then just disappear already!
Oh, right. I guess I have to make a note here… after this the squid was shared with the staff and they thoroughly enjoyed it (3).
(1) Something like this.
(2) Japanese police drama.
(3) On Japanese TV, this line would often be said when there is a large amount of food on screen, as a way to reassure the viewers that no food was wasted. They take food waste seriously over there.