03. Recollections


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Thud, thud, thud. Let me out, let me out—out, out, out!

When Otonashi's steps faded away, the two sighed and smiled at each other, with the blond boy tracing the gun he had in his blazer's inner pocket with his fingers. Calmed, his head turned to the broken down door and said, "Always knew he was crazy, but he's a madman."

"You're tellin' me. Igarashi . . . ," he mumbled, trailing off, looking back in his mind to moments before—to what Otonashi said and asked. "I don't know."

"That your name?" the blond boy asked, pacing round the room.

"'I don't know' is the answer to that one," he replied and chuckled slightly, moving himself to the side of the bed he was laying on. "I guess it must be."

"Let's hope you aren't some bad omen or something, then."

Puzzled, Igarashi raised a brow at his new friend. "What do you mean?"

Their eyes of different colours locked once more. Close. Very close.

"Your name; it means 'fifty storms'. Let's hope we don't get nearly that many," he explained, walking to the sink on the opposite side of the room. He filled a paper cup up to the brim with water and downed it in one go. "There's enough bullshit happening here at the moment as it is."

"Hey, uh," the confused stray boy said, struggling to find the words to penetrate the stiff conversation. "I get that there's something going on between you two, but, uh, I don't really mean to be rude, but—"

"You want to know what's happening. Where you are, who I am, who he is. What this all is, right, Igarashi-san?" the boy asked, averting his eyes away as he knew he had no answers. He could not help anyone—not even himself.

Igarashi the newcomer nodded confidently, intent on finding the truth of all this, too deep in thought himself to really notice his friend's subtle movements. "I want to know."

The blond boy took a few deep breaths before sitting back down in the chair that was next to the bed Igarashi sat on the edge of. "First's first is my name. I'm, er, well"—he fumbled around in the seat, unable to keep still as he could not remember his own name—"my name is Seiichi."

"Second, is, well, uh . . . ," he spluttered, unable to form a complete sentence regarding the matter of explanations. "What do you want to know, Igarashi-san? It's better if you ask."

Igarashi looked away and slightly up, holding his chin up like a student formulating questions for the classroom; eventually, after a long pause, he clicked his right hand, smiled, and asked, "So where are we? I take it this isn't some elaborate kidnapping, and I also take it you're not the kidnapper even if it was that."

"Even if someone had kidnapped us, our memories are too scrambled to make sense of anything before we came here," Seiichi continued, raising his hands and sighing. "We haven't been drugged; I'm certain. But . . . I am certain about one thing."

"What?"

"This all must be to do with Pres. Otonashi-san," he said, his pitch lowering as he felt the need to curse under his breath. "Rumour has it he's waiting for someone."

"Who? Or, I guess, why?" Igarashi pressed, having too many questions for Seiichi that he felt like he was a bother. He had one, single more important question for him, wanting to steer the conversation to a different path. "You said he's killed you once before? What did you mean by that?"

Seiichi's eyes glowed crimson once more as his eyes made their way to Igarashi's grey stones of eyes. "Igarashi-san, this is going to sound mad. Crazy. Because it is."

"Okay . . ."

"You and I? We're dead. This"—he motioned to the infirmary ward's windows, to the outside, where the campus was and the trees that marked the edges of this world—"this is the Afterlife. This is post-life."

"Post-life . . . . Seiichi-san, please, tell me. Everything. Everything that you know so far."

Though Igarashi's jaw had dropped and his eyed had widened to their furthest extents yet, the vermillion backdrop of a sky began to drop too, unveiling a confusing, tantalising fusion of sunset and moonrise to them and the students of this Afterlife school.

"I'll try." He brushed his hair to one side, stood up, and pointed to the students' halls of residence on the opposite side of the pitches. "But we should move. I'd rather talk where less people will be able to hear. God knows if anyone is listening right now."

As Seiichi hurriedly walked out of the room to the hallway, Igarashi stared at the broken door once more, wondering if anyone would clean it up.

This world was too puzzling for him at the moment.

"I reckon if God knew anything about this place, he'd be the first to tell. You can't go long without spilling secrets," Igarashi whispered, walking away quickly to catch up.