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Period 52: Ghost Tunnel
Period 52
Volume 14
Previous Period 51: The Cleaning Man
Next Period 53: Blog of God
Ghost Tunnel is the 52nd chapter of the Zekkyou Gakkyuu series. It's the first chapter in the 14th volume.

PremiseEdit

The cowardly Madoka accidentally rips off the seal belonging to the tunnel said to protect those who enter from an evil within it.

Yomi's IntroductionEdit

Yomi stands outside of a long and dark tunnel and asks the Reader if they hesitate to go inside. She explains that today's story will be about it.

SummaryEdit

Everyone is preparing to go to school when Madoka Kitano, a cowardly and withdrawn sixth grader overhears some girls complain about the rowdy boys who always carry on. She wishes she could help to settle them down, and because she's the group leader she is supposed to; but she finds it impossible because she's not even capable of speaking up against the scary fifth and fourth graders. She gets picked on a lot, including by a girl in her class named Misono, who bumps into her on purpose again and chastises her for walking "sluggishly". The girls who complained criticize Madoka behind her back unaware she can hear them at first.

She doesn't understand why they treat her so poorly. But she's become to hate every single one of them.

Madoka sadly contemplates if things will always remain like this as they enter the dark and dreary tunnel. She hates it as well, but she purposely takes the long way to get home so she must continue enduring it each day. It's then she overhears the girls from earlier discussing the rumor about an accident that occurred in the tunnel sometime back- an accident that took the lives of many. Since then, many construction workers began to vanish, to the point that they even contacted an exorcist and were given a seal of protection. It seems to have worked though. 

By now the girls have caught the attraction of some other students as Madoka tries convincing herself its just a story. She can't help but wonder if its true though. 

At school, Madoka is in a gloomy mood as Misono is complimented by the teacher for walking the first-year students so well. Misono remains humble, and while Madoka thinks about her popularity she is distraught as Misono comes by to drop off the package she was supposed to bring with her. She finds it hard to say anything, which Misono finds to be boring. She takes off with some friends and Madoka silently sits in frustration.

Teary-eyed Madoka runs for home, only stopping upon reaching the tunnel. She finds it hard to step inside after recalling everything she heard that morning, but enraged from how poorly she is treated each day and hoping to find the seal for herself, she forces herself to step inside. Right after, she nervously freezes and considers backing out as the dripping from the tunnel startles her, but when she prepares to step back she falls down. After a moment of self-pity, she is surprised to spot the paper she was in search of; sticking out in plain site.

Madoka is in disbelief but she's not given time to observe it further when she overhears the boys from that morning wanting to search for it. Knowing they will probably find it, she grabs it in a blind panic and runs all the way to the opposite side of the tunnel. She stops to catch her breath and is worried, unsure of what to do now that she did this. She didn't mean to, it just happened. 

The following day, Madoka is alarmed after she overhears some students talking about those boys she saw enter the tunnel. They never returned home after school and she instantly blames herself as she looks at the seal, fearing that perhaps it really was protecting the tunnel. Seeing the tunnel up ahead, Madoka shoves the seal in her pocket and insists to the group that they go another way. They are annoyed by this and point out it could be longer, but Madoka tries reasoning with them before they blow her off and enter anyway. 

Arriving just in time for the bell, Madoka stresses out after she overhears a pair of alarmed students informing the Teacher that the girls from earlier never came out from the tunnel. Even Misono notes that a first-year behind her went missing; but Madoka is confused to see that she's perfectly fine. She listens as Misono brings up that a sign was put up so that nobody enters the tunnel now, and she thinks something suspicious is going on. She then happens to notice Madoka observing her, and she goes on to say that things might be better if she disappeared too- the world doesn't need cowards. Madoka is deeply shaken by this as some students scold Misono's heartless remark, but she is mad and tired of it. Because of Madoka, she gets blamed for things she had nothing to do with.

Gripping the paper, Madoka rises as everyone is preparing to leave the room when she abruptly asks to speak with Misono. She convinces her to come back to the tunnel, where she informs her of the seal being ripped off. Misono doesn't understand why Madoka would tell her, but when Madoka tearfully begins to weep and say that she came to her for help because of how much everyone respects her as a true Leader, Misono decides its worth at least looking.

As she asks about its location, she is unaware of the cruel smile Madoka is making. She prepares to go inside but hesitates, catching Madoka about to shove her into it when she suggests they get an adult for help. Misono is shocked by such a bold gesture and asks her what she was just planning to do to her, then she grabs Madoka's arm and tries to pull her inside. Madoka weeps as Misono keeps pulling on her, and fed up with her bullying, Madoka reaches for a nearby rock using her free hand and she smashes it against Misono's head.

Madoka is startled by what she has done, and she drops the rock immediately to observe the blood dripping down Misono's face as she lays still on the ground. She didn't mean to kill Misono- the tunnel was supposed to do it.

Realizing she has no other option, Madoka attempts to lift Misono's body and drag it into the tunnel. She is sure she will be fine because she has the seal with her. As she stares at Misono she thinks about how she can't be a coward after having done this, and she lets go of her body. It's then Madoka notices a strange human-shaped smear on the wall of the tunnel, and as she reaches for it, it begins to smile and alarmed, Madoka backs away, just in time to notice Misono's body is now missing.

Several more shadows begin forming around Madoka as she fearfully observes them, wondering if these were the spirits of the people who vanished or died in that accident. She recalls having the seal and quickly searches for it realizing it fell out of her pocket. Before she can realize its blown away from her, she is surrounded by the corpses of the various people, including the students and Misono.  

Yomi's EpilogueEdit

Yomi observes a shadow -implied to be Madoka- and mentions how another has been claimed by it. She asks the Readers if they have a tunnel like this, then warns them to be careful because the protective seal on it might just be missing. With her hand sticking out of the tunnel, she says goodbye to the Readers.

CharactersEdit

QuotesEdit

TriviaEdit

GalleryEdit

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