April 29th: Prologue

In darkness, a modern style building stands in the snow. A rush of footsteps echoes in the whiteness beneath.
 No matter how much more snow falls from the sky, the layers upon layers of white material would not deepen.
 Where is this place? Why is it so nostalgic, yet I cannot remember anything…

 A “hand” grabs at the icy cold door handle and pulls with force. With a quick flash of the body, “I” enter the structure. Three banyan trees stand in a straight line. At the other end of the “hallway” illuminated in some orange colour, a glass-walled elevator silently awaits for passengers with its blue-white fluorescent lights.

 “I” am waiting, searching.
 Stepping into the elevator, it rises slowly from “ground level”…
 When the door opens, a group of white robed “middle-aged people” are discussing something. They stare at “me” with a surprised look. They all think that I went in the wrong direction, so they tell me to take the left corridor to “go back”. Their mouths are moving, but no sound comes…or is it that their voices are all as loud only as a mosquito? Oddly, “I” can clearly comprehend what they are saying. “I” gently push them aside, following the right-hand corridor and pacing quickly, when suddenly a longhaired female appears in front of “me”, running parallel to my direction. “I” innately try to catch up, intending to intercept her and talk to her. She keeps running and running…and disappears before one of the hallway’s rooms. “I” make a left turn and follow her to that classroom, seeing only a few young “fellows” talking. Why is it that I never hear anything, yet can “hear” and understand their meanings…?

 To the wall on the right hangs a large blackboard, which faces some long tables and chairs. Looking outside the window, all one can see is a navy-blue “night sky”, drifting a ceaseless snowstorm…
 “I” search for a name on the blackboard. It is not long before the neat, fine chalk marks that seems to be written by a young girl that lead me to instinctively acknowledge “her” existence. At the same time, the group of youngsters are about to leave the room. “I” keep asking them: “Where is she?“ and they reply with something I cannot remember.
 In a flash “we” are in a different part of the structure, heading towards a thick iron door. The grey-blue, wave-pattern sheet metal walls, in coordination with the lighting, generate an atmosphere that screams the message of hopelessness into the mind. Unknowingly the door opens, and “we” exit the building to a piece of ground. “I” instinctively know that we are on asphalt ground, for the snow is comparatively thinner here. Aside from two high lamps shining their orange light on two or three “automobiles”, all else are shadows of darkness to the eye.
 “I” hopelessly stand behind the “automobile” at about three or four steps’ distance, glancing at the group of people hurrying to get inside, and slowly disappear from my visual senses. All that is left is “me”, standing in the storm under the orange lights…

***

At the same moment as Shou Tachibana awoke from his slumber, the door creaked open. A girl of around 13 or 14 years of age poked her head in, and said to the boy still lolling on the bed, “Get up, you’re starting school tomorrow! You can forget about going to half of your day’s classes if you don’t get used to waking earlier!”
Shou checked the digital alarm clock that read Twelve-fifty-six Post Meridian on its stern face. “Ugh, I get it. I’m getting up…keep talking, and I’m gonna start chopping people with my sword!” He paused for a moment, then retorted, “Wait a minute! Today is Sunday! What am I getting up so early for?”
Nonetheless, he was literally dragged out of bed shortly after falling back down trying to sleep again.
“Ugh…so what if we get up earlier? Everyday, and it’s the same old studying, playing with toys and video games…this is boring!” Shou walked into the kitchen and complained to his mother as he stretched.
 “Why don’t you find a few friends to come play with?” Shou’s mother Suiryuu patiently replied as she placed a plate of desserts into the refrigerator.
 Shou was about to reply when Yuu mocked, “Mom! You already know what he’s about to say! Oh there is no one worthy to be friends with, it’s the same old every day, it’s boring! It’s boring! It’s…”
 “Oh put a sock in it, will you, Yuu?” Shou angrily cursed his older sister. “I have my own mouth, so I don’t need you to speak for me!”
 “Shou, you…” At that instant, half the living room air ionized with violent intentions as the siblings stared down at each other.  
“All right, all right…stop arguing now, you brats…or else there will be no green tea jelly for you!” Their mother dissolved the situation with a gentle tone.
 But then…
 “Green tea jelly? Why didn’t you call me sooner?” Shou and Yuu’s father called from the study next door, and excitedly rushed to his wife with all due speed.
Suiryuu sighed with a smile, “Oh dear, look at yourself! Looks like we have three brats in this house…” and they all burst out laughing uncontrollably.

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