Chapter 3 – ‘A Piece of Normality‘
A little while later, around eleven in the morning.
Aden sat on a bench in the bleachers of the academy’s track field, thinking over the day so far. He generally thought of himself as level headed, the kind of person that could cope with any situation. However, how could he have expected something like that?
He picked apart his memories as he walked through the past day.
Midnight. He’d found an interesting book on logic puzzles for beginners. It contained a few things he hadn’t seen before, along with some he had learned as a hobby when he lived in the orphanage as a young child.
Two in the morning. He remembered it wasn’t the weekend and he had an exam set to begin a few hours later. He decided to read just a little more. This was a common theme in his decision making process, books were important!
Another two hours passed. He realized that he forgot about stopping after looking at the clock. He sat down the book in a rush and went to lay down.
He instantly fell into a deep sleep, without even drawing the covers over himself. Thinking back on it now, he felt like a force was exerted on him getting out of bed… more than usual, that is. His legs were like cement bricks.
Then, around an hour later at seven in the morning, there was that moment of numbness that caused him to break his pencil. At the time, he’d just put it off as a lack of sleep, but now he began to suspect it.
“It happened just after that, didn’t it…?” He talked to himself in a low voice, resting his head on his palm. “It was like I’d lost control of my body for a moment.”
He sighed. “I’m thinking too hard about this. Either I’m going crazy and a talking white fox with two tails appeared out of nowhere, stopped time, and set my blood on fire… or I am incredibly tired and need to sleep.” Nodding at his last statement, he stood up and slapped his cheeks to clear away his confused thoughts.
“All right! I’ll put it aside and continue as normal!”
Passing students looked at him, before returning to their business. Most students were busy with exams and end of term projects at this point in the year.
Walking down the steps of the bleachers, he noticed numbers appear near objects like the outside ring of the track and distance between the two points of the oval shape.
“Nothing, I see nothing. I’m just tired, yeah. That’s definitely all that is happening. I am tired and need to sleep! Everything is normal and I am definitely not going crazy.”
At this point, he began ignoring the numbers and calculations that showed up along anything he focused on and headed to the cafeteria.
“Phew.” He let out a breath of relief. After calming down and drinking some tea that was brewed for the older students, the numbers finally went away.
As for the tea, he’d taken a liking to its taste after visiting the tea club back when he first joined the academy and was thinking about extracurricular clubs.
He didn’t join because it took too much time away from binge reading, however.
“I knew it, it must have been from a mix of stress and lack of sleep.” He took another sip of the earl grey from the cup. Interestingly, he wasn’t hungry at all despite skipping breakfast. He was wholeheartedly focused on relaxing.
If it weren’t for David’s taekwondo practice for the academy’s inter-club end of year tournament that was set to start in a few days, he would have returned to the dorm already. He sighed inwardly, “I only had one class today because of the exam and I’m staying late anyways.”
He mused to himself idly, attempting to take his mind away from the day, “I wonder how the academy gets around the safety laws… David just turned fifteen last month and he regularly gets beaten to the ground in that room.”
He knew David relied on helping to bring him to the dorm after extra practices like today’s session. Although he seemed so carefree the rest of the time, he took taekwondo seriously and would go all out in it. Sometimes going a bit too far, he would need help to the dorm and assigned Aden to help him.
As he knew little to nothing about law and government, he quickly gave up.
One day, when he’d asked why David joined the club, he replied with something about ‘powerful kicks being a man’s romance’. Seeing the look on his face, he resigned himself to helping his close friend in his passion—much the same way that David helped Aden remember that things outside of books existed.
That is, constantly berate each other. That’s what friends do, right?
“Well, it’s not like I need to sleep or anything,” he added out loud, sarcastically.
“Hmm? What about sleep?” A light voice rang from behind him.
Slightly surprised at someone hearing what he said, he sat down his cup and looked around. It was Levy, one of the girls in his class that sat in the front row, far away from his place at back corner near the windows. Her head was tilted to the side and she was leaning forward slightly with her arms crossed behind her back.
From what Aden could tell from sharing a classroom with her for the past few years, she prided herself in medicine and traditional healing arts. As something like the teacher’s pet, she could often be heard discussing with faculty about how the world was slowly bouncing away from the usage of pills and back to herbal remedies.
To further one-on-one communication between teachers and students, most classrooms would keep the same set of students until they finished high school level courses and chose their specializations officially. It should be known that almost every student at Haven Academy excelled in at least one field, with its alumni becoming well distinguished in that field after graduation. Most would donate to the academy to fund its cutting edge research and equipment for education.
Not that Aden paid much attention to things like that. He merely enjoyed the environment that focused so much on learning.
“Ah, yeah. I didn’t sleep much last night.” He didn’t mention his reading habit to most people, it usually just lead to misunderstandings. “It was the exam.”
Coming to her own conclusions, Levy nodded. “I know, right?”
She pulled a chair up to the table and sat across from him, leaning forward.
“… Hey, about that exam earlier. Did you really finish it that fast? I had barely worked in to the second problem! Some of the later ones we learned just two weeks ago!” At that, she held up two fingers and reached them out towards Aden. Her voice had gradually increased to a low shout.
Frankly, Aden did not want to recall that period of time. It was too close to… No, he wouldn’t think about ‘that’. “It definitely, definitely didn’t happen,” he shook his head as he consoled himself inwardly.
“So… you didn’t finish?” She looked at him with a quizzical expression.
“N, no. I mean, yes. I did. Well, I just happened to have reviewed those particular problems the most, you know?” He left it at that.
“Oh, I see.” She knew about his fondness of reading textbooks as if they were the most important things in the world, not that she’d ever say it.
After weeks of being at a bottleneck in her personal studies, just before the exam earlier she had a ‘eureka moment’ and somehow understood how to advance. As a result, she was in a good mood today.
Standing up suddenly, she slapped the table with a decisive bang. “I know just the thing!”
Probably due to the day’s occurrences, his ability to keep up with people was at an all-time low.
She walked around to his side of the table and took his arm, pulling him up. “Let’s go! The best thing for an overworked mind is delicious food! And lots of sweets!” She added that last part more for herself than anything. Breakthroughs required rewards after all.
“B, but I’m waiting for David—“
Levy interrupted him, “He definitely won’t mind! Besides, we’ll still be in here so it’s fine!”
For some reason, she felt really good today.