|Period 52: Ghost Tunnel|
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Ghost Tunnel is the 52nd chapter of the Zekkyou Gakkyuu series. It's the first chapter in the 14th volume.
Premise[edit | edit source]
There is a seal within the tunnel said to protect those who enter it from evil spirits. One day, the cowardly Madoka accidentally rips off the seal, then people begin to go missing!
Yomi's Introduction[edit | edit source]
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.
Summary[edit | edit source]
Everyone is preparing to go to school when Madoka Kitano, a withdrawn sixth grader overhears some girls complain about the rowdy boys who always carry on. She wishes she could settle them down, and because she's the group leader she is supposed to; but considering she isn't even capable of speaking up against scary fourth and fifth graders it's impossible. She gets picked on a lot, especially by her classmates -Misono- who bumps into her on purpose like usual and chastises her for walking "sluggishly".
The girls who complained criticize Madoka behind her back until they realize she can hear them. Madoka doesn't understand why she gets treated so poorly by everyone like this.
She really hates them.
Madoka sadly contemplates on this as they enter the dark and dreary tunnel. She hates it as well. But because she purposely takes the longer path to get home she must continue to endure it now or else the others complain. 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. An exorcist was brought in thinking spirits were the cause and the tunnel now has a seal of protection on it. It seems to be doing its job. Madoka nervously attempts to convince herself its untrue as more students join the conversation.
At school, Madoka is in a gloomy mood as Misono gets complimented like usual. Misono remains humble as Madoka thinks about her ever-growing popularity, and she approaches Madoka to drop off a package she is supposed to bring with her. Misono expects her to refuse to take responsibility for her work, but when she says nothing Misono complains that she is boring. She takes off with some friends and Madoka silently sits in frustration.
Madoka weeps while running for home after school. But as she comes across the tunnel she hesitates to enter on her own as she recalls the story from that morning, but she becomes enraged over her poor treatment and heads inside. She considers backing out as the dripping from the tunnel startles her, but she stumbles and falls back. After a moment of self-pity she looks to see the seal is nearby. She remains in disbelief until she hears some approaching boys, who also wish to seek the seal to see if the rumors are true. In a blind panic, Madoka grabs it and stuffs it into her pocket and runs to the opposite exit of the tunnel.
The next morning, Madoka is worried as she hears the boys never returned home. She blames herself for ripping the seal out of the tunnel, which she didn't mean to do. It just kind of happened. She wonders if it really does protect the tunnel as its rumored, and as they approach the tunnel again she keeps the seal hidden and attempts to convince the group to go in another direction. This annoys them as they point out the path is longer, but she attempts to reason with them, until they blow her off and enter despite her concerns.
Madoka arrives just in time for the bell as some students panic while telling the teacher that the other girls never came out of the tunnel. Even Misono notes that a first-year behind her went missing, and later she remarks that a sign was put up to make sure nobody enters it now. When she sees Madoka observing her, 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 the heartless remark, even some other students chew out Misono for being so mean, but she complains that she's tired of dealing with her uselessness. Because of Madoka she gets blamed for things she had nothing to do with.
Once class ends Madoka gets up and approaches Misono, teary-eyed as she asks her to come with her back to the tunnel. Misono is very confused as she goes on to say she saw that the seal was ripped off, and she explains how everyone looks up to Misono, which is why she came to her for help. While she remains suspicious, Misono decides its worth at least looking.
She asks where the seal was located, unaware of Madoka's cruel smile. She is about to step inside but hesitates, suggesting they ask an adult for help. She happens to catch Madoka in the process of shoving her inside and both girls express shock. Misono asks Madoka about this and grabs her arm to try yanking her inside. Madoka helplessly weeps as Misono keeps pulling on her, but she sees a nearby rock and with anger welling up inside, she reaches for it and 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.
This wasn't supposed to happen. The tunnel was supposed to take care of her.
With no other option Madoka lifts Misono's body and pulls her into the tunnel. She'll be okay since she has the seal with her, thinking about how she has shed her cowardly self. She lets go of Misono when suddenly, Madoka notices a strange human-shaped smear on the wall. She reaches out for it until it smiles, and just then Madoka backs away to see Misono's body is 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, only to realize it fell out of her pocket.
Before she can see it blowing away from her, she is surrounded by the corpses of the various people; including those students and Misono.
Yomi's Epilogue[edit | edit source]
Yomi observes Madoka's shadow. Now another has been claimed by the tunnel. 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.