Black Moon in the Afternoon Sky
(R for sexual situations, 4200 words)
For cinderfallen, Yuletide 2007
Set after Volume 5. Around the corner and down the hall you go, through the double doors and then down by the staircase that isn't always there.
About the series
After School Nightmare by Setona Mizushiro is published in English by GoComi. It is a surreal, creepy manga about Ichijo Mashiro, a high school student who describes himself as "boy from the waist up and girl from the waist down." Ichijo passes as male because he identifies masculinity with strength, ruthlessness, and determination and femininity with vulnerability, sweetness, and victimization. He is torn between his attractions to Kureha Fujishima, a girl who likes him for the non-threatening femininity he represents to her, and Sou Mizuhashi, a boy who insists on seeing him as a girl, but who brings out all of his angriest, most challenging aspects.
One day, the school nurse inducts Ichijo into a special afterschool class, which consists of a shared dream with other, unknown classmates. In the dream, students assume their true and often horrifying shapes: a cruel knight in a black suit of armor, a boneless arm without a body, a girl without a face, a paper giraffe, a little girl in an elaborate dress holding a teddy bear. Ichijo is in the shape he most fears: he's a girl, wearing a girl's version of the school uniform. Kureha is herself in a raincoat, as distraught and damaged as she was after she was molested on her way home from kindergarten. Ichijo doesn't know Sou's shape, but suspects he is the black knight.
In the dream, all the students wear necklaces strung with three beads. If you die in the dream, a bead bursts. If you die three times, you wake. People die often in the dreams, because inside one student's body is the key to graduation, a literal key that can only be found by breaking into the body. When a student graduates, bells toll and the student is erased from the campus: their name disappears from their locker, their desk is empty, and no one remembers they once were there. Clearly, many students have been graduating to their unknown fates: the campus is full of absences, holes, emptinesses, blank lockers, and unassigned desks.
ETA: fragilistikal has a more detailed summary and scanlations of the first volume.