The First Step
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First, state your name, age, and affiliation.

Uh, my name is Seo Yul, I'm 17, and I go to [REDACTED] High School.

How are you related to the victims?

They bullied me.

Where were you from 8 P.M. to 9 P.M. last week?

I…


I picture Jesus on the cross.

There it stands, my own crucifix, in the dark of the janitor's closet.

Jesus died in pain, nails in his hands and feet; while I nail my own heart, suffering in pain, unable to die, slowly swallowed by the abyss.

His sacrifice led to Christianity, while my possible sacrifice cannot change anything, albeit I keep thinking about it.

A ringleader of a pitifully small, corrupt society; that was their reason for locking me in here, trying to act mature while being so childish. And I despise myself for letting them swing me around like that.

Resentment led me to the observatory on the hill.

It has been a suicide hotspot for quite a while: maybe people were drawn to the romance of dying in such a view. Recently, though, I haven't heard of someone dying here. Presumably, that's because it's my turn.

I look down, leaning on the handrail. The depth. The cold. A gust of wind forces me to close my eyes. The unfathomable height of the cliff is as if someone would reach up for me from down below. The image provokes fear, but at the same time, makes me want to let go, reaching my hand down there.

As my hands waddle in the dark, dread and fear fight over me, all the while the void sucks me in itself. As my fingers reach my knees, my feet no longer stay on the ground. Wait, I'm not sure if-

What would I have wanted? I don't know. However, there indeed is something about instinctual fear.

I want to live.

Something brushes by my chest. Was I trying to hold onto something?

Thud.

I feel the ground on my back. I feel faint but recover shortly. The fall wasn't as high as I thought. Then what happened to the countless people that died here, I wonder. I see the moon and stars. One more day can be worth living with this view.

Heh, was the sky so close here?

I turn to the cliff. It looked much lower than from above, about the height of the drill platform at school. Something seemed off, but I decided not to spare my thoughts: this situation does not allow me.

I hear crows somewhere.


It took a week for me to fully process what happened, and it took a bit more to get used to it.

Every night I would go somewhere empty and do some space-bender training. Every time I found out something new, I would record it.

First, I can completely disregard the distance between two points. It feels like as if space is warped to pull the endpoint a few centimetres in front of me. If space was a line, it would be similar to bending it to make the two ends meet.

Second, when I do something to an object at the endpoint, I move there. I can do this at my will, even when I don't touch anything there. To put it, I walk over the warped space: teleportation, sort of.

Third. I can set the endpoint inside an object. Which means I can place it inside a wall, for instance. I wonder if it would be useful since I can't actually go there, but it's good to keep in mind. I did test out what would happen when this was the case with an empty can… well… it was sharply cut in two.

Well, these were what I found out, and I got used to it. Actually, I don't want to know more. Moving from one location to another without any obstacles was a tremendous feat by itself.

I wonder how long it'll take for the bullies to find out. I was sure they'd find out quickly enough since they routinely threatened me, cornered me, stomped on me, and threw me into the janitor's closet. However, it didn't bother me, since I could simply run away now.

From every recess then on I went on the school roof and lied there. It was simple: run away before the bullies come, fold space a few times, and voila, I'm there. Then I'd lie down for ten minutes until class starts. The sky there was always calm like the night sky then. Sometimes, I would just stare at the flying crows until the bell rings.


Academy ends at 8 P.M.

I went there not because I wanted to avoid late-night self-study sessions1 or additional classes. I prefer to be taught than to study alone.

I don't use my ability on my way home. Too much of anything was sure to draw attention, whether I like it or not. It would be a hassle if it did.

It takes ten minutes to walk from the academy to my house. It took me fifteen at first in the confusing maze-like residential district, but now I got used to it enough now.

I turn around the third corner. No one's home, I was used to solitude long enough that an electric mattress was right for me.

It was that moment when my guard was down.

I felt something on my neck when I turned. Before noticing anything, I was flung back, my neck grabbed. It was those three, grim smirks on their faces. I forgot they were children. Children who'd do anything to get everything they wanted.


I was punched and stomped on the dead-end street.

They hit me somewhere else even before I can feel it. Pain strikes not when I'm beat, but when I'm stripped of everything, all by myself—all the more fearful.

Though, they don't seem to end it here.

One of them took my wallet and put it in their pocket. I lied still, hoping they'd go away, but their shadows didn't move. I felt ominous as they whispered before me.

Absurdly enough, they wanted reprimand for my runaway.

One grabbed me under my arm, holding my shoulder. I couldn't resist, nor that I wanted to. Nihilism engulfed me. I could have run away like before, but it would return as an act of more significant revenge.

A blow in my chest. My breath stops, and I cough. Scoffing laughter.

Another one. I hear a crow cry as my visions get blurry. Well, this is my end.

And another. My throat gurgles instead of screaming. I'm held by a different person as someone else prepares to beat me.

Now, I die.

However, what that day reminded me was, there is something about instinctual fear.

I don't want to get beaten to death.

I pushed the girl behind me as hard as I can, dodging their fist. They seemed surprised to see a dying girl show such might. One thing they'll never know is it's because I was dying.

I knew I would hit a wall, but it felt like as if I could resolve this situation only after she let me go.

I pushed her hard enough to break loose. I grabbed the opportunity to run, but I collapsed from the blows earlier.

Dizzy from the fall, I expected stomps shortly after. It was clear what a predator would do to a resisting prey.

But nothing happened. I looked up to see the other two drenched in panic.

The two slowly backs away, and I hear a thud. I carefully look back.

It's a hand.

I looked up a bit. The wall is bleeding. The wall… is… bleeding??

My god.

I stuck her inside the wall.

I looked back at the remaining two. They were about to turn back, and I was to stop them. I didn't know what I'd do afterwards. I was shocked as they were, but I was sure that nothing good will happen to me if I let them run away.

Problem is, because of that, I didn't notice they had their guts exposed instead of their backs when I grabbed them.


And here I am.

Three girls wearing bloody uniforms. The only difference between them and me is that I have pieces of guts on my hand.

What should I do?

I can't tell.

It would have been the same if I didn't resist—me, sadly lying here, dead, one way or another.

The crows are awfully loud. Yes, I killed them. Now take me.

And then a crow came into view. It stared through me. I tried to ignore it.

It was then that it morphed into a human: a woman, pale skin and green eyes. Before I could even ask, she removed what I was holding, and wiped the blood from me, holding my hand. Suddenly, I felt something bursting out from deep inside of me.

I cried, sitting there.


That's one place you're from…

There is always another place to go to.

Are you sure you can let me in? I… killed someone.

Of course. I know you're not the kind of person to do it. I've been watching you for quite a while.

Maybe; but I killed people. I don't want to live my life labelled a murderer, and I'm sure you can't take that off of me. I can't live like that, because I am who you think you are.

It's alright.

What is! I'm a criminal now!

We can make that not happen.


Is this the kid?

Yup. Told you, tougher than she looks.

Hmm, seems so. She looks kind of dumb.

That's not very kind of you.

Shut it, or I'm leaving.

Hey, you shut up. Oh, sorry, this is how we roll. I know, not very trustworthy, but she's the best that can solve your problems.

I hate to admit that I have to intervene in most cases. It'll be quite a challenging week from now on. I'll set aside my apologies till then, okay? Wipe that dumb look on your face. You in now?

Huh? Um, yeah. I think so…

Okay, then wait for a while.

Wait, w-what are you going to do?

Police can investigate you. It's better to forget than to lie.

What?

See you next week.


Thank you, ma'am. You may now return.

Oh, thank you, officer.

I know you've been through a lot. I regret that we had to ask you more.

I understand. People died.

We can drive you home if you need to.

Oh, no, I'm fine.

Well, best not to build up any rumours.


Police called me several times afterwards. I never imagined proving myself innocent was so hard.

The three kids were found down a river far away from here. Two bled to death from their backs. One had one of her hands cut, but the cause of death was suffocation. Estimated time of death: 8 P.M. to 9 P.M. No records of their previous whereabouts.

Unfortunately, their time of death coincided when my academy ends. I, having been bullied by them, was a prime suspect. Naturally, the police called me every other day. Luckily one of my neighbours told the police she saw me, telling them I was strolling by, my expressions dumb as ever. Police deemed me innocent.

After a week or so from the incident, I finally returned to my daily lives. No more rumours bugged me after I was released. That made my day.

As I went home, I hit the floor. I was fatigued. One day passed, but I can't but worry about what rumours will spread tomorrow. One of my problems were gone, but I still sink into the abyss.

'See you next week.'

Every night after that day, her voice rang in my head. Today is the day, but no one comes. I knew it sounded too good to be true. I crouch and close my eyes, letting my consciousness drift away. How will I die tomorrow?


A whisper woke me up.

It wasn't a deafening one, one that you can overlook as noise. Regardless, it woke me up.

It's hers.

I wabble down to the front door across the pitch-black room. It must have been quite a while since I slept. Nevertheless, I walk. It felt like as if there was some kind of light behind that door. A light that would set me free from my shackles.

I slightly opened the door. Someone leaning on the corridor stood up. The blinding streetlight hindered my view, but I could see a silhouette of a crow on her shoulder.

"I hope I didn't wake you up."

I rub my eyes to adjust. When I look at her again, her eyes glow red.

Ah.

Suddenly a wave of memories strikes my mind.

Pain. Fear. Resistance. Gore. Death. Help. Kindness. Subtle happiness and a tint of frustration.

And-

'No records of their previous whereabouts.'

'She saw me, telling them I was strolling by, my expressions dumb as ever.'

'No more rumours bugged me after I was released.'

My god.

I stumbled, startled. The crow morphed human held me. She was grinning, mischievously, just like back then.

They embraced me. I might have cried.

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