Prologue: The Immolation (Part 1)

I don't know why sine waves have always intrigued me. It may be their looks, the smooth curl above the x-axis mirroring itself below the axis for the next π/2 units; their scientific usage, the creation and representation of sound and light; or their mathematical usage through angular or circular trigonometry. If one describes a sine wave to me similar to the past exclamations, I would be immediately disinterested; although, whenever I hear the word or phrase and see its graph, it somehow intrigues me. Maybe I like sine waves because I am a musician; I honestly have no clue since I normally don't ponder this hard on a certain thing unless if the thing is related to music, rollercoasters, or anime. And the sine I'm pondering over right now is not related to the sine synth in electronic music. I'm just pondering over the entire concept in general out of pure boredom.

"Mr. Sagisawa." Suddenly, I snap right back into reality after hearing my last name called by my math teacher, Mr. Abowitz. "Can you please answer the question and stop spacing out?"

"Apologies, Mr. Abowitz. May you please repeat the question?" I reply, picking up the pencil that I set down on the desk a few minutes ago. A few snorts and giggles can be heard around the classroom, although the teacher doesn't notice.

He sighs. "Class, can you please tell Mr. Sagisawa what I asked?"

My friend Kaito turns around and addresses me, "He asked what the reduction formula from cosine to sine is." He then lowers his voice, "Jeez dude, it's unlike you to space out in the middle of class like this. Another major song idea?"

"Don't worry, I'm fine; I was just pondering over something stupid again. I'll talk more about it at recess." I reply to him with my voice lowered while standing up to address the class. "Ok. The reduction formula from cosine to sine is 'cos(π/2-theta)=sin(theta).'" Kaito gives me a thumbs up.

"Good, so you were paying attention after all... unless Mr. Toledo gave you the answer." Mr. Abowitz remarks sarcastically as I sit back down in my seat. "Now don't let me catch you dozing off like that in class again or I'll give you JUG."

"Yes sir," I reply to him, spinning my pencil like a drumstick. Mr. Abowitz resumes his lecture.

Right now, as you can probably tell, I am currently in math class, or Honors Precalculus, to be specific. This class is my first period on Fridays at Ignation Academy, a very prestigious, all-boys, American Jesuit high school. It just so happens that today we were learning about the different usages of sine, cosine, and tangent in circular trigonometry, hence my heavy pondering on the concept of sine in general. I'll think about why I got into that heavy pondering later when I talk with Kaito.

"Ok class, can someone please recall what sine is in angular trigonometry?" Mr. Abowitz addresses the class with an Expo marker in hand. Both Kaito and I immediately raise our hands while the other people in the classroom stare dumbfounded at his question. "Ooooh, only two brave volunteers this time. You guys have a lot of studying to do. Mr. Toledo, can you answer the question?"

Kaito stands up and answers his question flawlessly. "Yes. Sine is opposite over hypotenuse."

"Correct. Now, just for the heck of it, what are cosine and tangent? Mr. Sagisawa." Mr. Abowitz signals for Kaito to sit down and writes the word 'Study!' on the board.

I stand up, "Cosine is adjacent over hypotenuse while tangent is opposite over adjacent." My words somehow project as flawlessly as Kaito's words did.

"Great. I can see you two know your stuff. Everyone else, follow their examples and actually study. You don't know when I can give you a pop quiz." Mr. Abowitz remarks with a smug face while I sit down after his one-question interrogation.

As this boring lecture continues on, I don't want to bore you to death, so I'll introduce myself. My name is Rei Sagisawa; I am currently 16 years old and am in my sophomore year at Ignation Academy. In Japan's standards, this year would be my second year in Final Course. People tell me that I am uber smart and good-looking, although I only praise myself for my musical skills, as the brains and the looks have not helped me in the slightest as of yet. I play nine instruments, write and compose, perform in three bands, and involve myself in every music program the school has to offer. However, I also founded our school's paranormal investigation team, in which we the team have already caught evidence of ghosts in our school a couple of months ago. My friend Kaito likes to call me a ladies' man, although I consider the phrase ironic since every girl I meet is intimidated by me. They all tell me I'm too good for them, even though I stopped playing on the football team to do ghost-hunting and mainly write heavy metal and dubstep music. Many of my other classmates are jealous of me because of everything that I have to offer, even though I have had no luck in establishing a relationship with a girl. Pretty funny, right? Anyway, I'll leave my autobiography at this because I gotta focus on taking notes.

….※※※※….

After an hour, the bell finally rings. Mr. Abowitz finishes his lecture by announcing our weekend homework and wishes us a good weekend. As I am putting my books away into my backpack, Kaito speaks up, ready to walk out the door.

"Yo Rei, wanna head to the student center during recess? I want to check out the upcoming dances."

"Nah dude, I have to do a little preparation for the in-class DBQ that Coach U is giving for AP World. Plus, let's try to outline our pre-setup for tonight's investigation." I reply to him while standing up and throwing my backpack over my shoulder.

"Oh right, I almost forgot that we have that today. Wanna try to check the dances out after school then?"

"I'm down once we finish our club meeting." We fistbump each other and walk out of the classroom.

Whenever I walk out of a classroom at Ignation Academy, the school never ceases to amaze me. The school is 153 years old, in which the original building still stands in great condition. My math class is in this building, so I get to see its vintage interior almost every day. The doorways leading to the sides of the building both have medieval arches, adding a gothic glare to the building, in which the foundations and main structures of the building consist of mostly brick. Walking through the doorway, a square roof is formed by similar-style medieval arches that shield the entryways of the building from the rain. Walking out of the building leads to the main commons, a diamond-shaped area of grass surrounded by cement benches forming squares, each square housing a palm tree. On one side of the commons sits the new science building connected to the clock tower, a three-story brick building with marble crosses decorated alongside its windows. Next to that building and across from the original building is the old dormitory, a two-story maze that holds the freshman theology classes. To the right of the old building and on the far side of the commons stands the old science building that now holds the student center, the merch store, and the community service offices. Kaito and I walk towards this building and pass through an archway that connects this building to the school's mini-cathedral, a towering three-story church that stands alongside the original building. Passing through this archway leads to the locker areas, the athletic fields, a parking lot, and the music building at the furthermost end of campus. The two of us alongside a sea of students head towards our respective lockers.

"So what happened during class today? Sleep on the wrong side of the bed or something?" Kaito finally speaks up and breaks my loop of admiring the campus architecture.

"No no, nothing of the sort. I actually somehow managed to get 7 hours of sleep last night after knocking out the essay for Mr. Celdwall's class. I'm wide awake!" I enthusiastically say while flexing my right bicep.

"Ok, showoff. I only had 5 hours of sleep since I had to finish a chemistry project." Kaito replies with a hint of jealousy while we open our lockers and switch out our books for the next few classes.

"Oh rip. You procrastinated, didn't you? What were you doing all week?"

"You know me well." Kaito gives me a smug look and zips up his backpack. "I was just binge-watching Oreshura since you recommended it to me. It's actually a really fun watch."

"Ahh, I see. Mr. Anime Protagonist himself falls into the trap of procrastination."

"Shut up." We both start laughing and make our way toward our main eating spot in the commons.

As I am pulling out my lunch box to snack on some apples before class, Kaito speaks up again. "So what did happen in math class? You never told me."

"Oh my bad. I somehow got into a major pondering session over sine and everything associated with it. Looking back, I don't even know what the hell I was thinking." I start laughing at myself while secretly thinking 'What the hell is wrong with me?'.

"Hmm, so the extra hour of sleep has gotten to your head, hasn't it?" Kaito jokingly remarks. I reply with another joke while impersonating an idiot who doesn't know up from down.

"Hmm, yes. The floor is made of floor." We both fall into laughter and begin eating our snacks.

"Anyway, so about tonight. Do you think we should meet up at the location at around 6:00 and begin filming an hour later? Or should I go and set up cameras beforehand so the team has more energy for the investigation?" My voice turns serious. Kaito starts pondering and takes out his phone.

"Uh, I think the 6:00 arrival would work. We can both set up cameras beforehand unless Mrs. Amey keeps me after school to help sort papers. Should we give the equipment to everyone when we leave campus or when we arrive at the location?" He responds while typing the details on his smartphone.

"No, I think we should wait on giving everyone their equipment for functionality precautions. We don't want any malfunctioning equipment when we arrive on scene since I know a few of the freshmen in the club like toying with the EVP devices." I take a bite from an apple slice and start chewing.

"Good thinking. And how are we going to transport the X-cameras over to the location? Can you do it since you can actually drive?"

"Yeah, I'll do it. I don't think I'll need any help with setup either." I swallow the apple. "We should ask Mr. Ui to assist us on Nerve Center setup, however."

"Noted. I'll go ask him next period."

"Great, thanks."

During our discussion, we both spot an abnormality walking on campus and immediately stop talking. After a few seconds of silence, we speak at the same time.

"Holy shit. It's a girl." Somehow both Kaito and I say the line in unison.

"And a good-looking one at that. Damn, look at her thighs." He immediately begins checking her out.

"Mission control, we have lost Kaito to his own pervertedness again," I remark yet another joke and act out like I am on a phone call. Kaito snorts.

I decide to stop fooling around to focus a little more on the girl. She looks like a foreigner from somewhere in Eastern Asia judging by her facial features and her choice of casual wear. She has tighter eyes than a normal American girl, although the eyes shine a bright brown similar to the color of high-quality maple syrup. Her skin is a mid-tan color, in which I can vaguely predict that she's somewhere from the Philippines; her hair is a smooth/silky black-ish color and runs down to about the mid-back range. I would make comments about her figure, but I don't want to be compared to my pervy friend right next to me who is making many rambunctious comments about it. However, I can describe to you what she's wearing: a light-beige dress that runs down to the mid-thigh level, grey knee-highs, and traditional white shoes. Overall, she is actually really good looking, although she isn't exactly my go-to type of girl.

"Rei, I think I am in a dream. Please wake me up." Kaito finally says after finishing his brigade of pervy comments about her appearance.

"No can do; you are already clearly awake. However, what I can do is send you over to her." I remark with a persuasive tone.

"Although I like the offer, I believe I would have to pass since recess ends in about a minute." He replies, eyes still locked onto the girl who seems to be walking towards the merch store. She then looks over and makes eye contact with him in a manner that I like to call the 'love at first sight cliché.' I can see Kaito's nose exploding with blood at any moment right now.

Kaito then turns to me. "I'll be right back." He proceeds to head over to her and they start talking.

"Goddammit, Kaito. You lucky sonofabitch." I put away my lunch and get ready to head to my next class right as the school bell rings.

….※※※※….

No other interesting events happened in school after recess, although I'll summarize what I had to go through for those who are curious. After recess I headed to the original building for English class, in which Mr. Celdwall gave the class an intense lecture on the difference between misplaced, dangling, and limiting modifiers. The entire duration of class consisted of him yelling lines such as "YOU STUPID SOPHOMORES!" and "MR. SMITH GO BACK TO SLEEP!" since everyone was too busy trying to take notes verbatim per his request. After English came AP Music Theory on the other side of campus, in which we practiced finishing bass lines for 4-part chorales, one of the few aspects of music that I do not like. Following this class was lunch, in which the majority was filled with Kaito hanging out with that one girl whose name is apparently Akane. One more note about her: she has an Australian accent, surprisingly. The rest of the school day consisted of AP World and Chemistry, but I'll spare you the details because both classes were extremely monotonous. The ending bell rung a few minutes ago, and Kaito and I are making our way towards the paranormal investigators' club room having one of our 'normal' conversations.

"Part of me thinks that you and Akane are already dating," I remark while shifting my backpack from one arm to the other. "Things seem to be moving way too fast in my eyes."

"Who knows, they might be." Kaito's comebacks are as smooth as ever. "I'm still trying to comprehend that I met my 'dream waifu' today, although she isn't a 2D anime girl."

"If she were a 2D anime girl, then I would see many more anime figures around here," I say this while waving to one of my teachers who is leaving campus.

"True enough, although I would probably see them before you do."

"Yeah, but I think you'll be too focused in admiring Akane."

"Well, I can't say that I won't be."

"AND YOU ADMITTED IT!" My jaw drops since Kaito usually doesn't admit to something that would potentially limit him. He usually acts like a tsundere in these situations. "Seems like she has had a major impact in your head."

"Yeah, yeah. I'm hearing that a lot already." Kaito opens one of the giant doors leading into the original building.

"You know... Let's stop talking about your new real 'waifu' and start focusing on this preparation meeting." I can't afford to get any more jealous or otherwise I would start screaming metal music in public.

We head into the main building and turn left towards the stairwell. The Paranormal Investigators' clubroom is located in Mr. Ui's classroom, one of the three original lab rooms on campus. All three of these rooms are located in what we students call "the Basement." Besides the three lab rooms, this level of the building stores some of the senior lockers and has a hidden tunnel that connects the building to the mini-cathedral in order for students to have an escape route if a threat walks onto campus past security. Mr. Ui's classroom actually holds the access to the tunnel, although no one is allowed inside. However, Kaito and I chose Mr. Ui's room to be the Paranormal Investigators' clubroom for precisely this reason, as there are rumors running around that the tunnel is haunted (we actually caught evidence of a ghost in Mr. Ui's classroom during our investigation of the school).

Reaching the bottom of the stairwell, Kaito and I walk to the end of the hallway and open the door to Mr. Ui's classroom. Mr. Ui's over in the lab area and is in the middle of prepping the cameras for the investigation.

"Hey Mr. Ui, no one here yet?" I wave to him while looking around the classroom, answering my own question through observance. Kaito takes a seat on the teachers' chair.

"Oh, Rei and Kaito. Perfect timing! May you guys please help me with loading the excess batteries into the storage compartments?" He looks up while unplugging a battery for one of the X-cameras.

"Yeah, sure. Whatever you need." I walk over to the lab area and open one of the storage compartments. The other club members start walking into the classroom. "Kaito, can you instruct them on what is happening tonight?"

"Sure thing," he replies and stands up. "Welcome guys; we'll begin when everyone arrives and takes a seat. I'll be explaining to you our agenda for tonight." The other members nod and/or reply with an 'Ok' while setting down their backpacks at the corner of the room.

While I help with packing up the equipment, let me tell you about the club and our agenda for tonight. Our school paranormal investigation club consists of mostly freshmen and a few sophomores (me and Kaito included), whereas the juniors and seniors are too busy with college preparation and community service to join the club. Kaito and I co-founded the club, in which I volunteered to be the president while Kaito took vice-president (surprisingly we did not have an argument over this decision). Mr. Ui, obviously, is our moderator, and sometimes our school priest Bishop Harbor comes in and helps us with exorcisms and supplies us with blessings and holy water in case if we encounter any demons. So far, no one has encountered a demon, although we have caught evidence of ghosts that we have concluded are most likely from the cemetery across the street in a few places on campus. For tonight's investigation (Kaito starts instructing the club members on tonight's agenda), we were hired to investigate an abandoned condominium that is rumored to be the original location of the Church of Scientography. The place is very defunct, beyond repair, and closed to the public, in which the owner of the building has contacted us to document any signs of paranormal activity in the building. Part of the documentation process is to film everything, in which the sophomores and a few freshmen use night-vision and infrared cameras to film. The rest of the freshmen operate the communication devices such as the EVP recorders, the SB7 Spirit Box, the Electromagnetic Detectors, thermometers, etc. The club is to arrive on scene at 6:00, in which our lockdown will commence at 7:00 (the X-cameras will start recording as well). My job is to set up the X-cameras beforehand and assist on the Nerve Center setup, in which Nerve Center is where we view all of our evidence. Kaito's job is to direct activity and store the holy water in case if anything goes wrong. Mr. Ui's job is to evaluate all of the evidence from Nerve Center in order to debunk evidence (yes, our moderator actually helps on-scene as well). Our lockdown will conclude at 6:00 tomorrow morning, in which everyone will have to help break down Nerve Center and X-cameras. However, if any event happens in which the investigation cannot proceed any further due to safety concerns, the club will evacuate the building and leave the equipment running; either the school clergy or the local fire department will retrieve the gear tomorrow, depending if the safety concern is with spiritual interaction or physical damage.

As I am putting the final battery into its compartment, Kaito concludes his lecture and asks if there are any questions. Surprisingly, no questions are asked, and the club is dismissed. I shut the compartment and head over to Kaito.

"You gonna head up to Mrs. Amey's now?" I ask him while he picks up his backpack.

"Yeah, I told her earlier today that I had an important club meeting to attend to; she understood and told me to help her afterwards," he responds with a look of disgust. "I'll come back if she doesn't need me anymore; if not, then could you please load the equipment with Mr. Ui in my place?"

"Sure thing. Good luck!" We fistbump and Kaito heads out of the classroom and up the stairs. "Oh yeah, Mr. Ui. Do you need any additional help before I take the X-cameras to my car?" I turn around to Mr. Ui who is checking the weather for tonight on his laptop.

"No, I am all set. However, would you like for me to help you load the gear into your car?" He closes his laptop and stands up while yawning. Teaching at Ignation Academy is apparently very tiresome, I assume; then again, he teaches freshmen.

"I'm good, thank you." I start putting the X-camera cases onto one of the dolleys in the room. "If Kaito doesn't come back to help, I'll be back. If he does, then see you tonight!" I wave to him as I head out of the classroom. Now I have to figure out how to get this dolly up the stairs; if worst comes to worst, I'll ask the dean for permission to use the elevator.

….※※※※….

Fifteen minutes pass, and I unlock my car so I can put the equipment inside the trunk. Five minutes of that fifteen included me trying to figure out how to get the dolly carrying all of the equipment up the stairs. I finally decided to ask Mr. Ui for help instead of the dean since I figured that the dean would yell at me for not asking for Mr. Ui's help. However, the dean did let me use the elevator, which ended up saving both Mr. Ui's life and my life. Mr. Ui went back to break down Nerve Center, so right now I am by myself once again... but not for long. From behind me, I could hear a familiar voice.

"Yo, Rei. You still here?"

"Oh hey Kaito; that was fast…" I turn around and see him taking one of the cases off of the dolly. "Did Mrs. Amey kick you out for doing bad work?"

"Funny joke, but no. She didn't need my help anymore, and she was getting ready to leave anyway. I did ask her about our essays tho, but she said she hasn't graded them yet." Kaito loads in the case he's holding into the back of my car. I reach to help but he fits the case in before my arm even reaches the car.

I try to make him laugh, "Lol you guys haven't gotten back your essays yet. Feels bad man."

"Says the person who only did three vocab units all year." Smooth comeback.

"Oh fuck; you got me there," I laugh and try to shed off another failed attempt at making him laugh by picking up three cases at the same time. Making fun of our academics is somehow amusing in its own way, even though I still don't know why it makes us laugh; for Kaito, obviously, this is not the case. I start beating myself up inside out of embarrassment for tempting him; the shedding off didn't work.

"Hey Rei; you know, if you want me to, I can assist you in setting up the X-cameras. This looks like it's gonna be a lot of work for just you alone." Kaito takes one of the cases from my hand and puts it into the trunk.

"It's fine, dude. I can set up the X-Cameras pretty fast, and the amount that we need tonight is not bad, actually. Plus, weren't you going to help out Mr. Ui with transporting Nerve Center?" I think to myself, Why am I such a stickler for when I mess up? I'm a freaking idiot.

Kaito stops and thinks for a second. "Are you sure? This really does seem like a lot of work; plus, we're only about halfway done and it'll take two times longer to do this if you worked alone." Crap, he got me there.

"And? We still got 2 hours until lockdown. I can set everything up in no time." I pick up one of the cameras on the dolly and gently place it into the back seat of my car. "And I saw you avoid my questioning about helping Mr. Ui… got a problem with him or something?"

Kaito almost leaps from his shoes when hearing this interrogation, "NO, nonononono I don't have a problem with Mr. Ui! I was trying to justify why I should help you with the X-cameras." Sure you were.

Kaito pauses again. "...Fine. I'll go back to Mr. Ui's class and help him out; I would have called one of the other sophomores to help him though... but if you insist," he sighs.

In my mind I let out an exasperated moan, "Thank you. Anyway, the sun's setting early tonight, don't you think?" I point to the sunset forming over the LA horizon while hoping that this diversion attempt would work.

"Oh wow, Daylight Savings really does make a difference. At this rate, do you think it'll be fully dark at 6?" Kaito scratches his head, almost dumbfounded at the time in which the sun is setting.

"More like when I get to the location, it'll probably be close to dark, and people would start switching their headlights on."

"Oh god-SHIT FUCK SHIT I didn't mean to say that!" Kaito reacts to his own words in almost a comedic manner, flailing his arms around and everything.

I sigh and pick up another case, "You fool, what have you done? You can't use the Lord's name in vain before a PARANORMAL INVESTIGATION of all things! At least you caught your mista-"

"I KNOW! I'm not a freshman who doesn't even know how to work a camera; I can catch myself on the strict rules." He hastily picks up the final three cases and shoves them into the trunk. "Jeez, dude. I didn't need the salt in the wound there."

"Oh rip, my bad." I apologize to him and close the trunk. He closes the back door. "Anyway, thanks for the help; I'll see ya at the location." I climb into the driver seat, shut the door, and turn the engine on.

Right as I am about to leave, Kaito opens my passenger door. "Are you positive you don't need help with setting up all of this?" A worrying curiosity perks up in his face, which is not a good sign for me.

"Dude. Like I said, I'm fine. If you were to come with me, I don't like the idea of having another person help Mr. Ui with Nerve Center since no one else knows how to set it up and break it down." I take a sip from the water bottle that I placed in the car's cup-holder this morning. Kaito acknowledges me with a wary 'ok' sign.

"Alright. See ya in an hour." As he shuts the door, he waves and begins to walk back towards Mr. Ui's classroom.

I sigh and shift the gear into reverse and begin to back out of my parking space. Once I cleared the cars next to me, I shifted the gear into drive and began to make my way around the lot. The sunset is more pronounced now, the sky turning a more reddish-yellow color. I stop the car in order to view it a little more, since I normally don't get the opportunity to see sunsets because of how busy I am. The sun itself is out of my view, blocked by the Bank of America tower in downtown, although its rays shoot their ways around the tower and into the skies. The clouds share a pink gradient amongst their white cotton-like appearance, reflecting more shades of red into the sky. As I stare and admire the sunset, I recognize an ominous aura presenting itself. The clouds are shaped similar to various scythes and other Christian symbols, all stretched across the sky's seemingly infinite boundaries. A commercial airliner flies between one of the clouds, forming a hole in what looked like a dove. I jokingly think to myself while observing this, the metaphysical is trying to tell me something… I wonder what it is.

I somehow stared at the sunset for around 5 minutes, almost as if I was seeing one for the last time, before I looked at the clock and realized that I should start heading over to the location. From what it seems like, the campus is dead; there are no moving life forms to be seen, anywhere. The sky provides an eerie glow around the football field-goals and the old buildings, similar to that feeling one gets when they realize they're not in the real world anymore… a seemingly perfect introduction to a fun and interesting paranormal investigation, I tell myself. But reality hinted something different about the paranormal investigation… almost as if life was trying to warn me of some sort of impending doom. I decide to drop the thought as I drove past the gate, choosing instead to psyche myself up for the fastly-approaching night.