PLEASE READ BEGINNING NOTES BEFORE READING THIS CHAPTER.
The only sound in the room was quiet chatting. Some students had gathered in small groups to talk, while others kept their distance. I stayed close to Sayaka, rubbing my arm. Every time I looked up at her, she just gave me a small smile and turned her attention back forward. I don’t mean to sound impolite, but there has to be a better way to make someone feel better than just...smiling. It almost made me feel like she was faking it as well. Despite my overwhelming anxiety, I tried my hardest to remain calm and just wait for the ceremony to start.
And that’s when it happened.
“Oh boy! Is everyone here?”
Everyone frantically glanced around the room as the high-pitched voice echoed across the walls. Junko raised an eyebrow. “Uhhh...I can’t be the only one who heard that, right?” “What...WAS that?” Hina asked. “Be careful. I will shield you in case of danger.” Sakura addressed everyone, getting Chihiro, Yasuhiro, and even Taka and Leon to group behind her. Sayaka tugged on my sleeve.
“Aaaalrighty! This is exciting! Let’s get the ball rolling!”
With a clonk, the lights suddenly shut off, and a few people gasped in surprise, one of those being me. Despite how dark it was, I could just barely see the curtains on the stage unfolding. Two spotlights swirled around the stage and eventually met up in the middle to lock our view onto a podium. And then, from behind that podium...A black and white bear bounced up to greet us.
The lights flickered back on, and the bear spread his arms out. “Hello hello, everyone! How are you all doing on this fine day?” Everyone’s faces quickly shifted from distressed to confused. Mondo clenched his fists. “What. The fuck. Is that?!?” Hina tapped her chin. “It looks like...a teddy bear.”
The bear crossed his arms. “Oh COME ON! I spent all my precious time setting up that super dramatic reveal just to get called a teddy bear?” He shook his head. “Kids these days. So insensitive!” Hifumi looked oddly relieved. “Ahh, I see. The danger was nonexistent! It’s just a talking bear!” He pauses for a few seconds, before jumping in surprise, his large cheeks wiggling. “WAAAAH! A TALKING BEAR?!?”
The bear stood up from the podium and hopped down onto the stage. “Would ya stop just calling me a ‘bear’?” He brought a paw to his chest. “Because I’m not just some bear. I am...Monokuma! And I’m the headmaster of Hope’s Peak Academy!” Taka seemed nervous, but still spoke up. “You are our headmaster? Preposterous!” Monokuma chuckled. “Puhuhu! No matter how preposterous you think it is, that’s the truth!”
Celeste took a step forward. “Well, if you are our headmaster, I trust you have been informed that all possible exits in the school are sealed?” “Of course I know!” Monokuma chirped. “Then...wh-why aren’t you doing anything a-b-b-bout it?” Toko stammered. “Cuz there’s no need!” Monokuma replied. “I don’t want you guys getting out and running around all willy-nilly! That’s what those cameras are for, too!” Byakuya tilted his head forward. “Are you implying that you don’t want us to leave?” Monokuma perked up. “Whoops! Guess I forgot to mention that part!”
Monokuma continued. “To put it simply, you guys are stuck in here!” Everyone’s eyes widened. “St-Stuck?” Chihiro gasped out. “Wait, for how long?” Sayaka worriedly inquired. Monokuma pretended to be counting on his (nonexistent) fingers. “How long? Hmm, let’s see...one...two...three...forever!”
Some gasped. Few yelped. Others stayed silent. Leon, despite the fact he was obviously quivering in fear, attempted to sound confident. “You...you can’t be serious!” Yasuhiro, oddly, looked ecstatic. “Haha! Alright, this is real funny! A bear? Trapping us in a school? This is the best prank ever, man!” Monokuma stared the Ultinate Clairvoyant down with an eerie gaze. “Oh? You seriously think this is a joke? One big fad? I’m the one who should be laughing, not you!” Yasuhiro’s laughing slowly died down. “Hahaha...haha...wait, what did you say?” “He said this isn’t a joke.” Kyoko coldly stated. “We really are trapped in here.”
Monokuma groaned and rolled his eyes as Yasuhiro screamed in terror. “Finally, someone who gets it! This is gonna be more tedious than I thought...” “But...” Hina began. “There has to be a way to leave, right? What’s the point of keeping us trapped in here?” Taka nodded. “Right! Forcing us to be locked up in here in completely unacceptable! Tell us if there’s a way to get out at once!” Monokuma’s eyes suddenly lit up. “YYYYYES! I was waiting for one of you to ask that!” I finally spoke up. Something about what Monokuma said rubbed me the wrong way. “Huh? Why?”
“Cuz this is the most exciting part of your school life here!” Monokuma answered, rubbing his paws together. “There most definitely is a way to leave!” Everyone gasped and stood at attention. “I call it...’The Graduation Clause’!” Byakuya crossed his arms. “Intriguing. Explain to us exactly how this works.” Monokuma chuckled. “Well...basically, the clause states that...”
“If you kill one of your fellow classmates and get away with it, you will be allowed to leave the school!”
My skin went cold. It felt like I had just stepped into an ice bath and dipped my head underwater, as the only thing I could hear were muffled voices and my own heartbeat. I hugged myself. It was only when Sayaka wrapped her arms around me and pulled me close to her that I snapped out of my almost comatose-like state. The students in the room were screaming and chattering with panic. Meanwhile, Monokuma just smugly stood atop the stage, reveling in everyone’s reactions.
Mondo was the first to step forward. “Hold on, motherfucker. There is no way we are going to agree to this bullshit.” He growled. Junko was next. “Hell yeah! What are you even thinking? We aren’t gonna kill anyone, dude!” Many other students made statements of confirmation.
“Nice try, Monokuma!”
“Affirmative! There is absolutely no way you are going to get away with this!”
“I will not be phased by your words...for I am a hero in the truest sense!”
“I mean, I’d rather kill myself than have one of you do it for me.”
“Shut the fuck up, Leon.”
“I have no intention of murdering anyone in this room, for I have no reason to.”
Sayaka’s arms tightened around me. “That’s right! This whole thing is disgusting! Do you think you can convince us to do something like that so easily?” Monokuma still stood his ground. “Do I think I can convince you? Of course I do!” The bear scanned the room. “In fact, one of you could already be planning a cold-blooded murder!” A few of the students backed down and went silent.
Taka raised his hand. “Mister Monokuma, sir! I have a question!” Toko’s eye twitched. “I-I wouldn’t call someone who t-trying to get us to k-kill each other ‘sir’...” Monokuma leaned forward. “I’m all ears!” Taka put his hands behind his back and stared curiously at Monokuma. “You said if someone were to kill, they would get to leave if and only if they got away with it! So are you saying that a murder could happen without anyone watching and they’d get to leave without any further repercussions?”
Monokuma’s eyes widened slightly. “Whoopsie-daisie! There’s another part of the Graduation Clause that I didn’t mention!” Sakura crossed her arms: “And that is?” Monokuma threw his arms into the air. “The Class Trials! Cue the applause!” Taka quickly glanced around the room, then clapped softly. “Class...Trials?” Hifumi mused. “Ah! Like in court?” “Eeeexactly!” Monokuma cheered. “So, once three students find a body, a countdown will begin. That countdown will lead to the beginning of the class trial!”
“In the trial, you all discuss who you think the culprit, thereby known as ‘the blackened’, is. After the discussion, you all take a vote! If you pick the true blackened, they will get punished, and you will all continue your school life here.” Monokuma paused to grin wider before continuing. “However, if you vote for the wrong person, the innocent party will be punished, and the blackened will earn the right to escape the school! That’s what I meant by ‘getting away with it’. You got it?”
Yasuhiro’s brow furrowed in confusion. “Punished? What kinda punishment are we talking? Like being thrown in a dungeon?” Monokuma laughed. “Oh, the punishment is much more severe than that! The penalty for getting correctly identified as the blackened...is death!” Once again, the screaming and chattering started back up. “So...if someone murders someone...even if it’s an accident...you’re going to k...kill them?” Chihiro whimpering, crying softly. “Yupyup! That’s what I said! And it’s not just a bonk to the head and then trial over. I wanna make sure you guys have your classmate’s death burned into your brains!”
Monokuma’s red eye began glowing menacingly. “So that’s why the death penalty is going to be a good old-fashioned EXECUTION!” “E-Execution!?” Sayaka echoed Monokuma’s words in terror. “That’s right! And it’s not gonna be some crappy guillotine or whatever. I made sure to set up all these executions with care and precision...to make them the most wild and hilariously over-the-top as possible!”
Monokuma took a deep breath. “Phew! That was a lot to take in! But just in case you can’t remember that all...” He ran behind the podium for a few seconds, and returned with a stack of tablets. He tossed them out into the crowd. I ceased embracing myself to reach my hands out and clumsily grab the tablet out of the air. “These are E-Handbooks! Made ‘em myself!” Monokuma gloated. “They’re basically like those cell phones you kids are using nowadays! The E-Handbook can show you the rules, report cards on your peers, and a map of the school!” Monokuma winks. “And maybe once the killing starts, they’ll be a new function added!”
Hina is shaking. “This...this is insane! There has to be another option...there’s no way-!” Monokuma interrupted her. “‘Oh noooo! There’s no way we’re gonna do this! Woe is me!’ Relax already! There is no other way!” Monokuma stared all of us down. “So get to bludgeoning, poisoning, stabbing, strangling, whatever! I don’t care how ya do it! But the rule still remains the same. You must kill if you wanna leave. And that’s final!” Despite my violent shaking, I tried to fight back. “But...why? What’s the point? What are you trying to get out of doing this!? What’s your motive, Monokuma!?”
“My motive?” Monokuma cocked his head. “Well, it’s despair of course!” Leon, likewise, was shaking as well. “Just...despair? That’s it?” “Duh! I’m not trying to prove a point. This isn’t propaganda or whatever. I just want to feel the despair flood this school...see it fill your bodies and leave you hopeless...that’s all I need to get a kick outta life, y’know?” All the students were shooting Monokuma varying expressions of fear, disgust, and anger.
“Anyway, that’s all for this welcome ceremony! Hope you guys will consider taking this super cool opportunity! Enjoy your school life here...and have fun partaking in this killing game!” Monokuma cackled wickedly before disappearing. “Puhuhuhuhu...Ah-Hahahahahahaha!”
And at that moment, the deafening silence took over all of us. We knew everyone was smart enough not to listen to Monokuma. However, a subconscious thought put us all in a state of distrust. What if someone in this room were to kill? The students looked at each other with unease. As the reality of the situation settled in my brain, I felt something that I’ve never felt before. Even if it was just a second thought in the back of my mind, I couldn’t deny it was there. I couldn’t get rid of it. I’m sure everyone else was feeling it as well. It was...
Despair Academy Welcomes You
Students Alive: 15