[Part of a series called Collector]

“…blood flows into the right atrium then through the right ventricle. The tricuspid valve over here prevents backflow… ” echoed the teacher.

Shiro turned towards the window, her head resting on the palm of her hand. It was a lovely afternoon to look outside the window. Ribbons of sunlight streamed down through the trees as leaves came down to greet the ground.

“Ms. Mirai, what is this called?” the teacher pointed to the chart.

“It’s the mitral valve, Mrs. Perterson. It’s also called the bicuspid valve,” Shiro answered. The class snickered a bit as the teacher blushed with angry red. Shiro, once again, returned to looking outside the window. At the corner of her eye, something flickered. She turned toward it but it was gone. “What was that?” she thought.

Shiro turned towards the teacher but as she did, her vision was shrouded in darkness. She didn’t feel like she fainted. She was very much awake.

“Hello? Is anyone there? Mrs. Peterson? Are you there?” Shiro yelled.

“No, she’s not here. It’s just me. I’m Schwarz by the way,” the girl with the red hood said as she stretched her hand out.

“I’m Shiro. Shiro Mirai.” She took her hand and got up from her chair. As she stood up, Schwarz’s other hand jabbed towards Shiro’s chest. Shiro looked at other girl’s hand and there it was. Her heart in another person’s hand. She looked at her chest and a gaping hole was there then looked back at Schwarz as slowly as she can. Shiro was frozen in place, fearing that if she moved, she would be ripped into pieces.

“My, what a pretty little heart you have here.” Schwarz inspected the heart as if it were produce. “Pure red, just the way I like it.” She then let go of Shiro’s hand, prompting her to fall down to the ground with terror in her eyes. “Thanks for the heart, Shiro! You seem like a sweet girl and I wished I could’ve gotten to know you more but I’m on a tight schedule here. You see, this will be my 1,000th heart before I can wake up. Well then, bon appetite!” As Schwarz opened her mouth, Shiro’s heart emitted ribbons of black energy. It surged inside Schwarz’s mouth and she suddenly started convulsing mid-air. At last, she stopped and smiled at Shiro. “Now it’s you, Shiro. I’m finally free!” Schwarz laughed as she faded into the darkness.

Shiro stood up, terror no longer dominating her eyes. She walked towards where her heart was, still in mid-air. Before, it was red as blood, now it was black as night. She took hold of her heart and returned it to the hold on her chest. When it was inside, her chest wall healed as if nothing happened.

“So a thousand hearts, huh?” she said as she walked deeper into the darkness, never looking back at her desk.

As she stared at the darkness, her left eye’s vision changed. She saw Mrs. Peterson vigorously shaking her body. “Shiro, wake up! Wake up! Maria, call another teacher here!” she heard her yell at another girl. Shiro saw her own lifeless body, her head on the desk turned towards the other side of the classroom. Her eyes were still wide open, pupils dilated. They too were lifeless.

As she witnessed the scene with her left eye, her right eye saw a girl standing a few feet away from her. Like her in the past, she too was yelling for someone to be there. Shiro blinked and concentrated on the meal in front of her.


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