Chapter 1: I’m a Real Super Hero?! Cure Twilight Shines Through!
In another world…
Discord swept all across the desolate land like a tsunami after an earthquake, only this was much worse. It came so fast, so suddenly, and so out of the blue that nobody had even a microsecond to react, or even so much as to comprehend what just happened. The ground looked as though it were literally stripped of every single blade of grass it ever had, leaving only a mostly charred, barren ground. Trees, stripped bare of their leaves, were all now gnarled and twisted in grotesque, unnatural ways, some branches even falling to the ground. Noisome, ugly, stormy clouds of smoke curled into the grey sky, polluting the once clean, pristine air. Houses all around were either partly destroyed, with some roof tiles falling to the ground or big holes in the walls, or reduced to gigantic piles of wood, bricks, broken furniture, and whatever else they made houses with, decimated down to their deepest cores. Other areas were simply swallowed up by thunderous blue flames, dancing wildly and eating whatever was within their vicinity.
It was a complete and utter disaster zone.
It was like every single natural disaster attacked it, like a combination of earthquakes, tornadoes, and rain storms. But none of this was natural. No, this certainly wasn’t natural. Not even a little bit.
In the midst of one piece of wreckage, a young, skinny teenager of about fifteen years old stood looking up at the dismal, abject sky with his bloody red eyes shining lustily like a shiny new red sports car, like he was having the best thrill he ever had. His medium length hair, a shining shade of silver like starlight, glistened somewhat amidst the frightening flames, heavily contrasting with his thin, golden, olive leaf diadem. His pale skin looked almost transparent and clearly contrasted with his dark attire, a dark brown vest, a lavender ruffle, a short sleeved black shirt, black pants, tall red boots, a red cape, and fingerless red gloves. The smile on his face was a wicked one, not appropriate for the desolate setting. In both of his hands is a large, black stone, shaped like a diamond, about the size of a dirty red brick, glowing eerily like the lights of a haunted house, if haunted houses even had working lights at all.
“So this is it...this is the true extent of my newly acquired power...Wow! This jewel really is as powerful as everybody says! I’ve never felt so alive until now! Finally, I truly feel alive, like I can actually achieve what I want to achieve!!” The young boy whispered softly but wickedly at first, making him sound like he didn’t quite comprehend the situation and everything around him at first. But once he drank up his surroundings like a kid in a restaurant drinking juice out of a bendy straw, he yelled and let out a hearty laugh, like he had never felt so free, so alive, in his whole entire life.
“How could you…?” A hoarse, ladylike voice asked from just fifteen feet away, coming from a woman whose refined, elegant, Navajo Indian-styled clothes were now in rips, rags, and tatters, her steel silver hair now scraggly and dirty, covered in patches of dirt. Her body is covered with fresh scars and scratches. One scar on her face was bleeding, but not too much. But she shot daggers at the boy with her emerald hued eyes, filled with a conflicted combination of shock and anger. “How could you do this to us, Zenjin?! This is your home!! Do you have any idea what you’ve done?!” The woman yelled angrily, her voice going up an octave, choleric with what the boy, Zenjin, has done.
He barely noticed her, but he did turn around to look at her once he stopped laughing. The look in his cherry red eyes was full of nothing but bloodlust and hate, with a wicked smile to go with it. The woman’s face went pale as soon as they made full eye contact. She really didn’t like the look on his face. There was no empathy, no mercy, nothing. Only hate and malice, but also a touch of what appears to be childlike curiosity. “Oh, I know what I’ve done. Now I truly understand what this jewel is capable of...and I LOVE IT!”
“What?!” The woman exclaimed, her eyes wide with shock. Her emerald eyes soon looked as though they were about to pop right out of her eyes when she saw the brick-sized, raven black jewel in his hands. “No! You...you’ve corrupted the Energia with your hatred!!”
“So that’s its name...Energia. That’s so stupid! You could have come up with something better, Queen,” Zenjin replied insouciantly, without any hint of remorse in his high pitched voice.
“Zenjin! Look what you’ve done! So many of our citizens have died because of the jewel being powered by your hatred! Have you any remorse at all?! Please, stop! Give the Energia back to us! You don’t know what it’s truly capable of, especially if it falls into the wrong hands!! It’s easily influenced by evil feelings like hatred and lust! Give it back so we can restore Rozaniela back to normal! Please!” The Queen yelled angrily but with desperation and pleading in her shrill voice. Hiding behind a nearby gnarled tree are four small, stuffed animal-like creatures, floating in the air, fearful of the silver haired boy, their wide, round eyes wide with fright and horror, afraid of what’s to come or what he might do next.
“Do I look like I care?” Zenjin asked right before stretching out one of his hands and firing an ominous purple and black beam at the weak woman, knocking her off her feet and causing her to scream in agony and fall onto the barren, charred ground.
“Queen Malgorzata!!” The four floating animals yelled as they flew over to the woman, Queen Malgorzata. The light blue one’s hands began to glow as it placed them on the area where she was hit.
“He’s out of control!” The pale purple one exclaimed frightfully.
“What are we going to do?! He’s destroyed 80% of Rozaniela! We’ve never seen destruction of this caliber before!” The light blue one asked with dread peppering her voice.
“Actually...there is a way we can fix this…” Queen Malgorzata whispered weakly.
“What? There is?” The orange one asked, confused.
“Yes...take a guess,” Queen Malgorzata said. Her injuries have healed slightly upon the rumination of the fairies. Soon, it dawned on them one the light blue fairy finished healing Malgorzata’s shoulder.
“No! No! You can’t be suggesting that!” The light pink one exclaimed.
“We don’t know if they truly exist or not!” The pale purple one cried out sadly.
Queen Malgorzata rummaged through part of her dress and pulled out four small, star shaped bottles--in four different colors: lavender purple, ocean blue, sunny yellow, and mandarin orange--with heart shaped caps on them. They looked like perfume bottles, but they’re completely empty. “These Heart Lighters are proof enough that they exist. My dearest fairies...you must go to Earth to find humans whose hearts resonate with these Heart Lighters...the Pretty Cures. They are the only ones who can stop Zenjin’s malice and return the Energia back to its original state...and save what’s left of Rozaniela,” Queen Malgozata whispered weakly.
“But we don’t even know how we’re supposed to tell if they’re the Pretty Cures or not! We’ve never been able to find out the actual requirements for being a Pretty Cure!” The orange one exclaimed.
“It doesn’t matter! Just go to Earth and find them! I don’t care who it is, how old they are, how incapable they are, whatever! As long as their hearts resonate with these Heart Lighters...then they can help us. Go to Earth! Now!” Queen Malgorzata exclaimed. The Heart Lighters glowed in their respective colors and floated to the creatures. The yellow one went into the orange creature’s ribbon, the purple one into the purple one’s ribbon, the blue one into the blue one’s ribbon, and the orange one in the pink one’s ribbon.
“But we can’t just leave you here!” The pale purple fairy exclaimed sadly, her voice completely consumed by a tsunami of both trepidation and worry.
“Oh no!! Look!!” The pink one cried out fearfully.
It was a sight that all five of them dreaded. The jewel is glowing in an ominous, malicious looking black light. It floated toward an absolutely ecstatic Zenjin and...went inside of him by way of his chest. As soon as it went inside him, he cried out in pain. He felt as though his entire body was on fire, just like the flames consuming whatever houses and trees he destroyed. But once he got used to the feeling, he seemed to enjoy his body feeling like its on fire.
“Yes...the power is inside me...my body’s on fire...wow! This is great! I can do whatever I want from now on!! YES!!” Zenjin howled happily, like he was experiencing the ultimate high.
“How dare you...WE ALL RAISED YOU!!” The orange fairy yelled and flew after Zenjin faster than a race car, her sky blue eyes literally blazing with rancor and jingoistic anger.
“Sunbeam!! NO!!” The pale purple fairy tried to grab her, but the orange fairy, Sunbeam, was too fast for her.
But she couldn’t get close enough, as Zenjin fired another beam at her, which she thankfully evaded. He didn’t even look! He just continued smiling and laughing maniacally. Sunbeam, realizing that the power he successfully acquired from absorbing the Energia is too great for her to handle, went back to the injured Queen.
“His rampage on Rozaniela...is just a test run. His real intention is to go to Earth. For what reason, I don’t know. We don’t know what’s going on in his head, but that’s what I fear the most. Please, my dear fairies. Sunbeam, Moonbeam, Starbeam, Lovebeam. Get to Earth before he does. Find the people whose hearts resonate with the Heart Lighters. They can stop him. I’m begging you…” Queen Malgorzata told them weakly.
Silently but reluctantly, the fairies nodded and flew away with the Heart Lighters tucked away in the bows around their necks, toward the sky. They were all unsure of what would happen. But soon, Zenjin spotted them.
“Pheh! Those blasted fairies! They better not interfere with my quest!!” Zenjin yelled as he himself flew toward the sky, with bloodlust consuming every fiber of his soul, flowing through all of his veins like blood.
“No! Please! Let my baby go! I’ll do whatever you say! Please don’t hurt her!!” A young mother pleaded desperately as a person draped entirely in black, ski mask included, is holding her crying two year old girl by the arm like she’s a rag doll, with a knife very close to pressing against her fragile skin.
“Mommy!!” The girl wailed timorously, yearning for her mother to save her.
“So what?! You don’t really care about this little piece of trash, so I might as well do away with her so I can lighten your load! You can thank me after you see her mangled corpse!” The man exclaimed arrogantly with excessive pride peppering his deep, booming voice. But all of a sudden…
“You leave that little girl alone, you heartless demon!!” A young voice called out from atop of a building. The voice was so strong, it surprised the man so much that he unknowingly let go of the little girl. Happy to be released, she ran to her mother crying. Her mother, also crying tears of joy, embraced her little girl, ecstatic to know that she’s safe.
“Who goes there?! Show yourself!” The black clad man yelled.
He soon saw a small figure standing on the house he’s right in front of, standing proudly with its arm crossed. “You go around talking about helping people...but to think you’d go as far as to attempt to kill children, claiming to take away their stress...you’re a major hypocrite!!”
Soon, the figure leaped in front of the surprised man, revealing itself to be a young girl of about twelve years old, with short, purple hair, and matching violet eyes. She has tall, purple cat ears on her head and a long purple tail with darker purple stripes on it. She’s wearing a sleeveless purple top with a pink bow on it, a purple choker, puffed up purple shorts, fingerless purple gloves with sharp, silver, steel claws protruding from them, and fake purple cat feet. She also has dark purple stripes painted all over her, like her face, arms, and legs.
“Now who might you be?!” The man asked.
“I am the protector of this town! I am Twilight Cat! My job here is to cleanse this town of nefarious barbarians like you, Arsene Black!! Meow!” The girl, Twilight Cat, exclaimed, striking a pose, with her long claws up and ready.
“Bwahahaha! So the Twilight Cat I’ve heard so much about is a mere little girl?! You couldn’t possibly defeat me! This is hilarious!” The black clad man, Arsene Black, laughed loudly, feeling his stomach twinge a little at the very thought of a little girl dressed like a cat being a hero. How could a mere little girl like this possibly even be remotely threatening and intimidating. This had to be some funny joke. But the girl was not perturbed by this. In fact, in his laughter, she smirked, and before he knew it, he felt something slice his mask.
His ski mask fell to pieces. When he looked down, he saw what was left of his mask, felt around his face, and screamed. Then he froze upon seeing Twilight Cat’s claw aimed right in front of him, with Twilight Cat keeping him in place with her slanted purple eyes. “Still think I’m an innocent kitten? I could slice your throat open if I wanted to. Meow!”
“Uh...okay! Okay! I give up! Let me go! Please!” Arsene Black begged.
“You don’t have any special powers, so don’t think you’re so high and mighty. I know this Arsene Black persona is just a facade. You’re pretending to be a villain so you can feel powerful, right?” Twilight Cat insinuated venomously, without any hint of mercy.
Surprised by what she said, Arsene Black fell to his knees dejectedly. “...You read me like a map. Am I that obvious? I’m just...so sick of everybody picking on me and walking all over me,” He whimpered sadly.
“I understand your plight, but resorting to hurting people and pretending to be some bad guy will only make things worse for you. Wouldn’t you want to be someone they can look up to? Someone they can rely on?” Twilight Cat asked.
“Hey look! It’s Twilight Cat! She’s secured another villain once again!” Someone exclaimed. Soon, a whole crowd of people surrounded her like fans finally seeing their favorite rock star live.
“You’re our hero, Twilight Cat!”
“You’ve saved us again!”
Soon, everyone began chanting happily, “Twilight Cat! Twilight Cat! Twilight Cat!”
Twilight Cat’s ears twitched and tail wagged happily as she basked in the praise of the citizens, happy to have done another good deed for them. But soon, the chanting very quickly changed into something unpleasant.
“Hey weirdo cat!!”
Then, a force pummeled her on the head, knocking her out.
“Owwwww!!” As it turns out, Twilight Cat is really just a young girl of about twelve years old, with very short, boyish, raven black hair, and dark green eyes that glistened like morning dew on the evergreen grass. Her skin is of an apricot shade, and she’s currently wearing a pair of pale blue pajamas consisting of a long sleeved shirt with a pocket on her right breast, and long pants. She’s in her room right now, but she felt a blow to her leg which definitely made it pulsate in pain, causing her to fall into a pile of stuffed animals on her bed, breaking her fall.
Perturbed and angered, she looked down and saw the culprit: a much younger girl of seven years old, with straight, raven black hair going down to her shoulders and eyes of the same emerald hue, but a lighter shade. She’s wearing a pink long sleeved shirt, a white skirt, black shoes, and pink and red socks with hearts all over them. But the little girl had her arms crossed, and her chubby face didn’t look the least bit happy.
“Rina!! You kicked me in the leg!! That’s not nice!” The older girl shouted angrily as she pulled herself out of the stuffed animal pile, causing some to plop onto the floor. The little girl was not deterred.
“Yeah, I did. It’s your fault for being weird and daydreaming again, Riko! Why can’t you be normal like me? You better not do that hero cat girl stuff in school or everybody’s gonna hate you! Well, they’re gonna hate you anyway since you’re stupid and not normal like me!” The little girl, Rina, yelled at the older girl, Riko, rather bluntly, confessing her transgression but with a venom peppering her words.
“What’s going on in here?” Soon, two adults came into the room, a man and a woman.
“Rina kicked me in my leg!” Riko shouted, unabashedly pointing at Rina with her extended index finger.
The man crossed his arms. “Is this true, Rina? How many times do we have to tell you? We don’t hit people in this house!” He scolded firmly.
Rina indiscreetly pointed at Riko and blurted out, without any hesitation, “She’s being weird and stupid again! She’s supposed to be the older sister!”
“It’s okay if she only does it in the house. But that doesn’t make it right for you to hit your big sister or call her names, young lady. Now I want you to apologize,” The woman scolded firmly but gently.
“Apologize. Now,” The mother insisted firmly, not letting her youngest daughter get away with what she did just now.
Reluctantly, little Rina muttered petulantly, “Sorry…”
Riko said nothing. ‘You’re not sorry at all, you brat! You’re just doing it because Mom told you to!’ She thought angrily.
“That’s better. Now go and get ready. Your first day of school starts in an hour,” The father told them. Rina promptly left her room, and so did their parents, leaving Riko alone in her room.
It’s a rather nice little room for a twelve year old girl. The bed sheet is purple and embroidered with snowdrops and bellflowers. She has a black dresser, which has a clock, some game consoles, lots of games, some toys, and a little purple and white jewelry box. She also has a green, yellow, and white rug on her floor, lots of stuffed animals lying around her room, a white book shelf filled to the brim with manga and other books, and not only that, her bed is white, looks like a couch (only with white wood), and has three drawers on the bottom of it, with more stuff in it. There are also boxes full of all of her favorite DVDs. Reluctantly, Riko changed out of her pajamas and decided to at least put on her favorite clothes, a light purple shirt with a darker purple cat embroidered on the bottom part with dark purple sleeves, a pair of comfy brown shorts, white socks with pink stars on them, and black and blue sneakers.
With a bit of a dazed look on her face, she picked up her pink school bag, sat on her bed, and began putting notebooks and textbooks in it. ‘It’s already been a month since we’ve moved here. I don’t want to go to school. They’re gonna hate me, just like Rina said...’ Riko thought dejectedly as she snuck in a manga she planned to read. After that, she brushed her hair, brushed her teeth, walked down the stairs and headed right into the dining room, where she found her mother, father, little sister, and older brother all at the dining room table. Unlike his sisters, the older brother has chocolate brown hair and sapphire eyes that glittered like the sun being reflected on the ocean, though they’re hidden by his glasses. So does his father, only he has black hair like his daughters. The mother has curly brown hair trailing down her shoulders and green eyes, like her daughters.
“Morning, Riko-chan!” The older brother chirped enthusiastically.
“Hi, Hikage…” Riko murmured in a monotone voice.
“Not too excited about school, Ri-chan?” The father asked with a smile while holding the paper.
“No,” Riko said as she got a banana, peeled it open, and began eating it.
“Arinao, would you mind taking the girls to school before work? I have some bills I have to pay,” The mother asked her husband, Arinao.
“Sure, Saki. I don’t mind at all,” Arinao replied with a smile, making his wife, Saki, quite happy.
“Oh, thank you! I really appreciate this, Ari,” Saki exclaimed happily as she wrapped her loving arms around her faithful husband’s neck. Riko finished her banana, went into the fridge, and began eating some of her favorite vanilla cream yogurt. Once she finished that, she grabbed her purple lunch box and put stuff in it, like a small bottle of water, a pack of cookies, some chocolate pudding with a spoon, a peanut butter sandwich, some fruit snacks, and crackers. Once that was done, she went back to her room, pulled out a big box of clearly used colored pencils and a sketchbook, and began working on an unfinished picture of a girl in a purple cat outfit...her made up superhero character, Twilight Cat. She pulled out a purple colored pencil to finish adding some texture to her shirt.
She couldn’t help but smile as her worries disappeared in thin air as soon as the violet colored pencil made its markings on the paper. For Riko, drawing was only one of her escapes from the harshness of reality. Drawing allowed her to be lost in her dreams and fantasies, and best of all, it allowed her to be herself. Rina didn’t mind her drawing, so she wouldn’t have to worry about being weird. She could be silent but it would be acceptable in this case, because she’s so focused on drawing, and nobody considered her drawing hobby to be inappropriate or weird. Soon, once she was finished coloring her shirt, she added some pink to Twilight Cat’s cat ears.
“I wonder if I should make her wear a scarf? Nah, it’d lower her speed. Scarves are too itchy. Oh! I just got a new idea! Twilight Cat should have an episode where she saves chickens and other animals from being killed for their meat, like people’s pets, by questionable meat packaging companies! Meow! This’ll be great!” Riko chirped happily upon hatching a new story idea in her head and immediately began doodling on a clean piece of paper, writing an outline for said episode. “Twilight Cat saves the day once again! Because of her, the evil meat packaging company closes its doors for good, promising to never kill chickens, pigs, cows, and other animals for their own means ever again, and to do it in more humane ways. Ooooh! This’ll be a real juicy idea! It’ll make people treat animals better, and not just as meat for them to eat!”
All of a sudden, she felt something soft and furry brush against her arm. She looked to her left and found that it’s one of her cats, a pretty tortoise shell cat with chocolate brown fur with many splotches of peanut butter yellow fur decorating the rest of her fur, with a face that made her look like a perfect yin yang symbol because of the peanut butter yellow streak separating her face into two halves, going right down her face and ending right at her little pink button nose. She also has stunning green eyes, like Riko’s, only a much lighter shade, even lighter than Rina’s. As soon as she saw the affectionate cat rubbing against her arm, she lifted her hand up and proceeded to scratch her head gently, which made the cat purr happily.
“Meow,” The pretty little tortoise shell cat meowed.
“Hi Reese! You’re always making me happy. Look! I’m drawing more Twilight Cat pictures! Do you think I should give her a sidekick?” Riko said happily, feeling much better having her faithful feline friend, Reese, brightening up her day a little.
“Meow,” Reese replied.
“Yeah, you’re right. Twilight Cat needs to do more stuff herself. Thanks for the advice. Meow!” Riko replied playfully and played with Reese some more. “I do hope you’re not getting into fights with Caroline again.”
Once she finished doodling her outline and playing with Reese, she put her sketchbook and a few colored pencils in her book bag and zipped it up tight. She then looked at some things on her dresser: a set of fluffy orange cat ears and a fake cat tail with black stripes on them. She really wanted to wear them and pretend to be her made up hero, Twilight Cat, or at least a real cat, chasing mice and catching fish and playing with yarn. Oh, how her innocent heart yearned for those cat ears and tail. It was like they were calling out to her, saying, “Put us on! You know you want to! Don’t you want to pretend to be Twilight Cat or a real cat or some other anime hero?” She really wanted to pretend a little, since Rina very rudely and bluntly interrupted her this morning.
But then she remembered other things people said to her in the past. Mean things, often said in a very crude and insensitive way. “Don’t do it in public. It’s not appropriate.” “You should know better! You’re sick!” “Aren’t you a little old to be acting so childish and stupid?” “Do us all a favor and grow up!” “You’ll never have any friends if you keep acting like that.” “It’s because you keep acting like that everyone hates you, you stupid retard!” “It’s not appropriate for middle schoolers to play pretend. Don’t you have more important things to worry about?” “Why can’t you be normal like everyone else?” She shook her head, throwing the evil words away. She resisted the temptation and went back downstairs, where she caught Arinao in the den watching the news. She managed to catch a piece of it.
“Currently, there are no new leads in regards to the outbreak of orphanages closing unexpectedly in Russia, Romania, China, North Korea, Afghanistan, etc. and why children and babies from those orphanages are disappearing by the thousands, making them completely empty. But we have received some eyewitness reports claiming that local homeless people are disappearing from the streets, as though they never existed. Investigators are still having a hard time finding credence to these claims, but we can’t deny that these disappearances and foreclosures are very real, and running rampant all over. We only pray that those children and babies are found safe and sound,” A female newscaster said.
“We’re leaving, Riko. Are you ready?” Arinao asked.
“Yes, Mom!” Riko said as she grabbed her tan coat, purple lunch box, and her pink school bag and followed Arinao and Rina to their silver BMW.
The school was only ten minutes away. All Riko did was stare at the scenery going by. She liked the amount of greenery surrounding them, and how lush the trees looked, like they were never tainted or contaminated. But she really didn’t want to go where their car was heading to.
“This’ll be a big adjustment for you, Riko. But if you do your best and keep your chin up, everything will be just fine. It’s a new school. You’ll get what you really need here,” Arinao explained kindly.
“I don’t want to go to school,” Riko muttered sadly, clinging to her school bag, her previous happiness dissipating into thin air.
“How come?” Arinao asked.
“They’ll hate me. They always do, no matter where I do,” Riko replied softly.
“You’re exaggerating. Not everyone is the same as the kids at your old schools. This is a brand new place. I know it’ll be hard, but you’ll make it through. You always have considering everything you went through. But try to keep your play acting and daydreaming to a minimum this year, okay?” Arinao replied, hoping to reassure her, but she wondered if she sounded condescending instead.
“They’re gonna hate her anyway, Dad. Nobody wants to be friends with Riko. She’s not normal, unlike me!” Rina proclaimed boldly, with a smug smile and her chubby arms crossed.
“Hey!” Riko yelled angrily, surprised that her younger sister would make such a bold claim. But Rina’s venomous words hit her right in the heart, because she knew what she said was true.
“Rina! Watch your mouth! Would you like it if someone told you nobody wanted to be friends with you? Not another word out of you,” Arinao scolded.
“Fine…but you know its true…” Rina muttered under her breath.
“Do you have your schedule?” Arinao asked.
“Yeah. It’s in here,” Riko replied softly, nudging her cotton candy pink backpack.
“Oh! Here it is! Hikaribashi Middle School!” Arinao exclaimed as the car pulled in front of a large, pale grey brick building that looked very fancy.
Riko had to admit, it looked a lot nicer than her previous school, which was rather unkempt and nitty gritty. This one looked very clean and pristine, though its structure looked a little unconventional and unorthodox. She had no way of figuring out why, though. The grass in which it stood on looked nice and clean despite being overrun with kids her own age. There was a blacktop next to it, where even more kids played and hung out amongst themselves. That was also something her old school had. However, it’s quite cloudy and dreary out, which made the school itself look a little stiff and uninteresting. But she still didn’t want to get out of the car, even though she knew she had to. She couldn’t skip school lest she be labeled a delinquent, and the experiences she had at her last school were bad enough. She hated school, but she’d be in trouble if she didn’t go.
“You have a good day, Riko,” Arinao said with a smile. “Remember to keep your chin up and do the best you can.”
“Thanks,” Riko replied with a bit of a forced smile.
“Don’t act weird!” Rina piped in.
“Ri-NA…” Arinao scolded with a warning voice before Riko closed the door to the back seat and hopped onto the grass. With that, Arinao drove away so he can drop Rina off at her own school.
At first, Riko didn’t want to go any further. Too many kids were playing, talking, laughing, and already in their own groups of friends. She wasn’t sure what to do. Should she talk to someone? But who could she talk to? She doesn’t know anybody, and if she did talk to anyone, would they like her or hate her? Riko assumed they’d hate her right off because that’s what she’s been used to all her life. She really didn’t expect to make any friends, only enemies, just for being around. She already wished she was back at home, drawing more pictures of Twilight Cat and cuddling with her pets.
Then the bell rang, its sound echoing into the dreary grey sky, which signaled for everyone to go in. Riko went in, yanked out her schedule, and tried to find her assigned homeroom, F9. As it turned out, it wasn’t hard to find. It was the third room on her left. Shyly, she opened the door, and she found a classroom full of kids and one female teacher, all of whom immediately turned their heads to stare at her with confusion and curiosity. She was frozen in place by their stares, unable to move. Her face became contorted with blatant anguish and trepidation. Already she wanted to go home.
‘Oh no. They’re all staring at me like I’m some kind of mutated zombie who’s out to eat them. I can see they think I look like a retard. I wanna go home and work on more Twilight Cat drawings...’ Riko thought in her head anxiously. She yearned to go home, but she couldn’t leave even if she wanted to.
“Everyone? May I have your attention please? As you all know, we have a new friend joining us today from here on. Want to come up to the front and say hello?” The female teacher explained kindly, then asked for Riko to come to the front.
‘No! That’s the last thing I want! Just my being here is embarrassing enough as it is!! But the front of the class?! Absolutely not!!’ Riko screamed in her head. She wanted to drown. She want to run away as far as she could. She wanted to die. But she knew she’d get in trouble if she ran out of the school. But even before she even walked up to the front of the class like a stiff robot, people already began talking.
“Aw, I can’t believe it’s a girl! I wanted a boy this time!”
“She kinda looks like a boy, considering how short her hair is.”
“She doesn’t look too smart.”
“Where’s she from?”
“Why’s she walking like the tin man?”
She turned around and faced the class. She was facing them and they were facing her. Her throat closed up. She couldn’t spit anything out, not even a hello. The teacher seemed to get the message and decided to take the initiative by writing her name on the board with a piece of chalk. Tasogare Riko, it wrote.
“Everyone, I’d like you all to meet Tasogare Riko-chan. She and her family moved here from Yokosuka a month ago. She’s new here, so help her out when you can, okay?” The teacher told them all, but they didn’t seem to be paying much attention to her. Only to Riko, who was already looking like she was about to cry. “Care to say a few words, Tasogare-san?”
She couldn’t say anything. All she could do was allow her brain to be consumed by a torrential tsunami of worries and anxieties and questions. Would these kids be different from the ones from her last school, or would they be exactly the same? She assumed the latter was more likely. Would they be her friend, or would they automatically hate her? Would they assume she’s stupid just by looking at her? She heard someone say she doesn’t look too smart. Would they pick on her? Would they like her? Are they thinking about how retarded she looks, how unfashionable her clothes are, how average she looks, how stupid she is for not wearing any makeup, or a skirt or dress or other ridiculously skimpy clothes every middle school kid she met wears nowadays? She normally didn’t care for any of these things, but she knew that these things were considered the holy grail of even having the tiniest bit of normalcy and a social life, though she really couldn’t see why, and doesn’t want to. Some of the girls looked like they had their own cliques already. Would they call her nerdy? Pick on her just for being here? Start up false rumors about her and convince everyone that they’re true when they’re not? Riko really wanted to go home. Now. Nothing was coming out of her mouth. The silence was too tense until someone broke it, and not in a very pleasant way.
“Hey weirdo! What’s wrong? Cat got your tongue? Or are you too brainless and stupid to talk?” One girl with short, wavy orange hair, gold eyes, and a rather large, unsightly, and disgusting scar on her left cheek exclaimed in a venomous tone.
“Can it, Asagi!” One red haired, bespectacled boy in a wheelchair yelled.
“You shut up, Four Eyed Cripple!” The girl, Asagi, snapped back.
“Asagi Marina! One more word out of you and you’re getting a special one-way ticket to the principal’s office, so either behave or be on your way!” The teacher scolded firmly. She then turned to Riko and said in a soft voice, “Feel free to take your seat now. There’s one right next to Mitomo-kun.”
Quickly, she ran to the empty seat and sat down. Strangely enough, she looked over and realized she’s sitting right next to the red haired boy in the wheelchair who yelled at that orange haired girl, Marina. He’s probably the one the teacher said is Mitomo. She secretly thought that he looked nice in his dark grey unzipped hoodie, his blue jeans, and green shirt. She was quite surprised by this turn of events. As soon as he saw her looking at her, he looked back and smiled, which made Riko turn her head away and stare down at her schedule, but not before he managed to whisper something to her.
“Don’t worry about Asagi. She picks on everybody, me included. Don’t feel like you have to suck up to her,” The boy whispered in a low voice.
Riko nodded in response, which seemed to be fine with him. She looked at her schedule to make sure everything on it is right.
Name: Tasogare Riko
1st Period: Homeroom. Teacher: Omori Seiko (F9)
2nd Period: Art. Teacher: Sasamoto Amika (F2)
3rd Period: Gym. Teacher: Hanazawa Tsutomu (Auditorium)
4th Period: Math. Teacher: Ikari Isao (F9)
5th Period: Lunch. (Auditorium)
6th Period: Recess
7th Period: Science. Teacher: Amane Gendo (F5)
8th Period: Health. Teacher: Tsutsumi Shinju (F9)
9th Period: English. Oginome Chisaki (F6)