(9 years ago)
The bodies lay in front of him. His hands were covered in blood. The groans of the dying brought the crows, pecking away at the dead and dying. Flies already swarmed the bodies, feasting on the fresh meat. He hadn’t wanted this, but it happened nonetheless. He didn’t know what happened, but he caused it. Out of rage. Out of fury. Out of madness.
Interrupting the crows’ feast, he walked out into the street. One of the dying had his arms raised to the sky, posing as he died. A crow pecked his eye, and slowly pulled it out. The man formed something with his mouth, but no sound came out. He had no way to scream, for he had no vocal chords. They had been ripped out. Slowly, the man's life ended, soul taken to whichever realm he had ended up in. His arms fell, and he took his last breath. He breathed a breath of sadness.
As he continued his walk, he noticed the shadows rising from the bodies. The figure stole the shadows, and continued on his way. It wasn’t right, but he did nothing to stop him. For it was himself.
Realization dawned and reality shifted, much to his benefit. The voice of one such gone called out.
How could he possibly get up, for he was already standing? Suddenly a wave of nausea hit him, bile from his throat coming out. It landed, splashing on the street, mixing with blood to create a brown thick liquid. It was an awful color.
“Up I say, you’ve got your inter—”
The ringing in his head cut the sound off. The ringing was loud, loud enough for someone to scream in agony from the unrelenting, neverending, high pitched sound that seemed to go on forever. He heard the wind whisper something, but it was unreadable. Incomprehensible.
Bubbly foam started to form in an officer’s mouth, much to his dismay. He hadn’t wanted this to happen, yet the world seemed to work against him. Much against his favor.
Once again, reality shifted. In his house once more, he stood at his parents door. The presence of something awful radiating death and despair beyond it. He didn’t want to open the door, for he knew what was inside was something horrific. A single tear slid down his cheek as he grasped the door handle, imprinting his bloody handprint upon it. Slowly, he opened the door, to what seemed to be—
Garret gave Yoki a giant raspberry on his stomach.
Yoki laughed drowsily, shoving his father away from him. "Dad, stop!"
Thank god. It was just a nightmare. Again.
“Yoki, I told you two hours ago to get ready for your academy interview,” his mother said.
"Get up, Yoki," his father said, yanking him to his feet by the collar of his shirt. The large, burly man wiped some of the drool on his son's face away with the edge of his sleeve.
"Go easy on him, Garrett," Yoki's mother admonished, ruffling the boy's hair. "Can't you see he was having a bad dream?"
"I'll give him something real to worry about if he's late to his interview," Garrett said with a small, good natured grin.
As Yoki was let back onto the ground, he signed inwardly.
“Enough wasting time Yoki, you ought to be on your way already to your interview by now. Hurry and get ready, you can’t mess up today, you’re off to a drowsy start.” Stephaine spoke demandingly, contrary to the gentle grin on her face.
“I’m sorry, I was up all night studying Mom. I must’ve fallen asleep last night and slept through my alarm this morning.” Going to his dresser, he put on his clothes he prepared the previous evening.
“That’s no excuse for a man, Yoki. You have to be responsible for things otherwise the academy will kick your ass.” Garett said, glancing at his watch. It was already half-past seven. “I’ve gotta go to the station honey, I’ll see you tonight. Yoki, I expect to hear how everything went tonight so do well. I know you’re ready, you can do it.” With that, his father exited the room after giving his mother a departing kiss.
If only I could be cut some slack sometimes, I wouldn’t feel so pressured always. All this work is catching up to me. Almost three all nighters in a row had taken its toll, I’m exhausted. Can I please just get some rest after this?
Yoki continued his thinking as he got ready, thinking back on everything. It all started that chaotic day, almost seven years ago.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
When Yoki was six, something happened at school that changed his life forever. A janitor left a pile of paper towels too close to the basement furnace, and it caught on fire. The flames spread quickly, and soon they threatened the first floor where Yoki’s kindergarten classroom was. He could feel the heat of the fire coming up through the floor, and the air was thick with black smoke.
The other kids panicked, and the teacher did too. She’d trained for an active shooter, but she wasn’t prepared for anything like this. She froze behind her desk, staring straight ahead of her, and didn’t respond when the other kids asked her questions. She was too scared to think clearly.
Yoki knew he had to act. “Quick!” he said, trying to sound commanding. “Grab a rag and wet it in the classroom sink. We’re going to go out the door to the right and into the hallway.”
“I’m scared,” one of his classmates said.
“Shouldn’t we wait for Ms. Bos? She’ll tell us what to do.”
“She’s coming with us. Right, Ms. Bos? She’s going to lead the way. We’re just following her.”
She startled to life at Yoki’s words, as if she’d been sleeping and he’d woken her up. “Yes, class,” she said. “We’re going to do as Yoki said. Out the door to the right and into the hallway. And from there we’ll go out the front door.”
“Single file line,” Yoki said. “Everyone be brave, too. Stay calm. If we all stay calm and don’t panic, there’s nothing to worry about.”
The fire had gotten very intense by the time they left the classroom. Yoki could hear it crackling all around him and tried his hardest to keep a brave face. He knew that the other kids would stay calm if he did—and if he seemed scared, they’d get scared too.
In the end, they all made it out safely—or so they thought.
The teacher started to count the heads of the students. “Twenty-three, that can’t be right.” Ms. Bos recounted, but ended up at the same result. “Who’s missing?” She called out panicking. There were twenty-four kids in class.
“Ms. Bos, Rachael went to the bathroom before we left.” Stated a boy named Tony, quite oblivious to the severity of the situation.
“Oh no…” Ms. Bos was speechless, her gaze looking at the ablaze school. Her eyes seemed watery, and suddenly she burst into tears. “It’s all my fault, I forgot to count you guys before we left the classroom!”
Yoki didn’t know Rachael very well, but she had talked to him on a few occasions. She was polite but also confident in herself. She was also very pretty, many boys in the class had a crush on her. Yoki didn’t have to think twice before sprinting back towards the school. He wouldn’t let someone die. He had to try because it was the right thing to do.
He heard his teacher yell behind him, along with the chorus of a few other teachers and students outside. He ignored them and rushed inside. Fire was everywhere, and the smoke was thick by now.
Yoki broke into a sprint to the girl's bathroom, running at speeds only olympic athletes could reach. Rounding the corner into the bathroom, he saw Rachael passed out along the floor. Picking her up and slinging her onto his shoulder, he started to go before seeing another body slumped on the floor. He picked up the other girl, and hauled her onto his other shoulder. He took one last breath and sprinted to the outer door.
The hallway was covered in smoke, so thick you could hardly see.The smoke was thick, that if he hadn’t been holding his breath, he surely would’ve passed out by now. Gradually, he made his way to the door he’d come in from, and at the last moment before reaching the door, the ceiling collapsed in front of him.
He dove, and time seemed to slow. Right above him was death. Each second seemed like an eternity, the dive to the outside a journey of its own. Yoki closed his eyes, waiting to feel the pressure of being squashed. But it never happened. Opening his eyes, he laid on the ground just outside the school door, both girls safely on his back. He had done it, he had saved their lives.
Their faces were covered in ash when they got out the door, and some of the kids were crying, but everyone was unhurt.
After that incident, his father had started training him almost triple the amount then before. His father would take him to random places, and drop him off by himself, expecting him to survive and get back home by himself. Yoki was given special missions and tasks to do, tasks that no child could even think of doing.
His father was testing him. His dad knew Yoki was smart, but no seven-year-old was this capable. One night after Yoki came home from a mission, his father sent Yoki to his room. Garett discussed with Steph about Yoki’s future and what possibilities he had. They knew what the best option would be for him, but they didn’t want to think about that now. They knew he would have a good shot at getting in, but after experiencing it himself, Garett didn’t want to even consider the possibility of sending the boy there. But in the end, five years later, they told Yoki about it. The most renowned school in the world. The Academy.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
As his dad left for the second time, Yoki was ready to go now. He put on his favorite Newsboy cap. He wore it almost everywhere he went. He found the hat in the attic, and when his mother saw it for the first time, she smiled and said he looked like her father. That was the only time he ever heard his mother mention her father.
“Mom, I’m about to go,” Yoki said, walking into the kitchen for a banana before he headed off.
“Okay sweetie, make sure you’re safe when you go. They said the interview and exam could be anywhere from two to seven hours, so call me when you’re done. I’ll start getting food ready when you’re on your way home. Good luck.” With a final kiss on the cheek and snatching a banana from the pantry, he headed off to the Academy’s nearest testing site.
Yoki knew something was off as soon as he stepped outside. The air seemed denser, and the typical sounds of Boston were deadly quiet. No cars were going down the streets, for it was completely empty at every intersection he passed. Where’s the morning rush hour? Yoki thought.
Walking down Salem Street, he didn’t see a single person. How odd. Where were the store owners and the tourists? Where is dog-walker Sally? She walked Salem street every day at 7:30 sharp. Pulling out his phone, the time read 7:43. “Shit.”
Yoki forgot about the odd deserted Salem Street and started running to his destination. He now was focused on finding the building where his interview was at. He received a picture of a sketchy-looking house the day before, with a single message of “Examination site.”
The Academy was well known throughout the world for its outstanding courses and programs, having some of the world’s most renowned people graduate from The Academy. The location of The Academy was unknown, the government keeping it a secret. The school ran off taxpayer money like a Public School, except it received a much larger commission. The exact quantity is unknown, but some say it is anywhere from sixty million to seven hundred billion. Quite the wide margin, but you can’t pinpoint an exact number when you don’t know it.
Yoki had spent the previous day scouting Eastern Boston for the building but hadn’t found it. That left the entire Western side of Boston, and he had only two remaining minutes to find it. Scratch that, he had forty-six seconds.
His dad had shown him the spot where his exam was held yesterday. It was now a clothing shop and was twice the size of the building he was looking for. Oh, and it was in London, not Boston.
“Zzzzz, zzzzz, zzzzz.” His phone chuckled. That was the alarm for 7:45. Damn, he’s going to be late. Not good, especially not for an interview for the world’s most prestigious school. Deep breath Yoki, deep breath. Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted a figure moving into an alley. No, five figures. He jogged to the alleyway and peeked around the corner. There he saw four figures beating a helpless woman, somewhere around the age of twenty-two if he had to guess. First people he had seen all day and this is who he sees first?
Yoki knew what to do, yet he couldn’t move. Those are four grown men, and he needed to take them on. He knew he could probably take them, even though he was outnumbered four to one, and they were almost twice his size. He'd been trained in situations like this by his father but had never actually encountered one for himself. Wait, shouldn’t he be looking for the examination building?
Before he could decide what to do, the men started to pull the women’s clothing off. Out of pure rage and instinct, Yoki flew down the alley. One man saw him coming, but it was too late. Yoki struck him in the eye with his fist, and realizing he was still holding onto his banana peel, he shoved the banana peel down the thug’s throat. By now, the three other thugs noticed him, and the thug on top of the woman said, “Kill him, and kill Jeff while you are at it. The idiot couldn’t even take out a ki—”
My pocket knife plunged its way into his left eye, and the thug started screaming. “Kill that fucking bastard now!”
The thug choking on the banana passed out, and his comrades, or now enemies, rushed towards me. One was so ugly, Yoki almost gagged. He had an ugly scar running down his face. His eyes bulged out of his head, and half his face must’ve been in a fire, for it was covered with a burn scar. Choking down his bile, Yoki snapped out a kick for his groin, but the thug caught his leg and flung him towards the other charging thug, Ugly number two. Ugly number two was missing both ears, and his face was shaped like a pumpkin.
These people looked like goddamn corpses, what the actual hell.
Ugly number two caught Yoki and punched him in the gut, making Yoki lose his breath. While he heaved on the ground, Ugly number one started kicking him along with Ugly number two. Yoki sprung up, knocking his head into Ugly number one, and clapped both of his hands in front of Ugly number two.
Yoki began martial arts training from his dad at the age of three. At age eight, he was taught a move by his dad that stunned the opponent for a minimal time. You clap in front of their face and made sure the person was watching; they would be stunned for around two seconds. Two seconds would be enough.
Yoki grabbed Ugly number one by the head and flipped him using his momentum. Now standing, Yoki shot out a quick jab into Ugly number two’s face. Yoki jabbed and swept the man’s feet beneath Ugly number two. With all four thugs now on the ground, his best chance to get out of here was now. Yoki ran, snatched the weeping woman from the ground, and dashed out of the alley.
A man in a pale gray suit grabbed his arm as he turned the corner.
“Good work,” he said. “You passed the first test.”
The woman jumped lightly off of Yoki’s back. She was no longer crying. Her face was stern, framed by short, severe bangs.
“Your Academy testing session has begun,” she said. “You did well. You clearly have potential. But you’ll have to do better than that in order to make it in.”
The four goons filed out of the alley one by one. They looked completely different now that they weren’t making over-the-top thuggish expressions.
“Thanks,” the man Yoki had stabbed in the eye said to them. “You did well.” He put his hand over his eye, and it was back to normal, completely healed. Was that one of the arts his father told him about?
They bowed simultaneously and walked off.
“They work for us,” the man said. “I’m Greenfield.”
“And I’m Indigo,” the woman said.
“Together, we run the Academy’s elite entrance exams. We make sure that only the best and the brightest are allowed in.”
“My dad said I was the smartest kid he’d ever met,” Yoki said stubbornly. “He couldn’t believe I could do what I did.”
“That might be true,” Indigo said, “But there are kids who are way smarter.”
“Way, way smarter.”
“Okay,” Yoki said, disappointed. He’d wanted to be special.
“Your next examination will begin shortly. Don’t be late.”
But they were dissolving into points of light—teleporting somewhere, Yoki guessed. Where they were going, he wasn’t sure. He was still stuck in downtown Boston, and there was still no one else on the streets. It was creepy. If he didn’t know any better, he’d say he wasn’t in Boston at all.