Language class was really quiet that morning, but also kind of boring. Bibiana had finished reading the text to answer the questions below in the book but, for some reason, she wasn’t focused. Too many things in her head.
She looked at the bracelet on her left wrist and couldn’t help but worry about her new “secret identity”. Even if nothing unusual had happened yet, if we put aside Pipoh, some thoughts were still buzzing in her brain. Unanswered questions like… Who really was that Majorette he told her about? If Circussa —or whatever the name —was in such danger, how much would the Earth be now that the baton was here? Could she actually do something or was it all a mistake? And most importantly, would she be put in grave danger too for accepting the mission, just as he had implied? Had she taken more than she could chew?
To be honest, she didn’t even know how much she could trust that pixie… Being cute didn’t mean good per se. What if he wasn’t telling the truth or if she was helping an alien to dominate her planet without knowing it? Anything could be possible.
Bibiana suppressed a chill down her spine and let the air in her lungs go out in a sigh. She was probably thinking too much. Where did her positivism go? This could also be a great opportunity to have the adventure of her life. What about all those hours she had spent as a kid, watching all those magical-girl cartoons, waiting for her own powers to become true?
She closed her eyes for a second and opened them again, determined to do some work from the book. Then, her pen slipped from her fingers and fell on the floor, so she bent down to get it back. When rising her upper body again, her eyes caught the silhouette of Alexander, who was only a row ahead on her right. He looked completely concentrated and his handwriting was steady.
Rita’s voice came to Bibiana’s memories: That guy’s such a freak. I wouldn’t give a dime for him. And so did Pooja’s: Alex? Well…to be honest, I think he’s cute.
Now that I look at him… thought Bibiana, it’s true he’s not ugly, but... I can’t deny his personality. She sighed while staring at his profile, which was kind of attractive in its own way. You can’t approach someone who doesn’t want to be friendly but it’s such a shame. I could even help him if he let me to. If only he opened up a bit… then maybe…
Nobody can tell if it was a coincidence or he simply felt her eyes on him, but the fact is that Alexander turned his head to her all of a sudden and caught her glance.
The girl froze in place, realizing that she had been staring at him like an idiot and couldn’t help but blushing in embarrassment.
Crap! He caught me staring at him!
It wasn’t much about being caught, but more about how embarrassing it felt. How had I let that happen in the first place? I’d never been so careless in my life and now I felt completely paralyzed by his distrustful look.
That wouldn’t last long, though. Alex probably got the wrong idea at that moment but he acted just like he always did: turned his head with a sigh and focused on his homework as if nothing had happened. And, for some reason… that kind of pissed me off. He had already ignored me twice in less than twenty-four hours. C’mon, THAT was rude! Me, worrying about his thoughts and he didn’t even give a damn. It hurt, but that simply confirmed what I knew already: you definitely cannot approach a person who doesn’t want to be friends with anyone. Especially if he’s apathetic.
I guess opening up wouldn’t be enough in his case… I thought, biting my tongue not to swear. However, now I know that it wasn’t that important. At least, not as much as what was about to come.
“Hey, what’s that?!”
With that simple exclamation, most of my classmates drove their attention to the windows and so did I. What I saw made my blood run cold.
“Holly molly!” Rita shouted. “That thing is huge!”
Indeed. A huge snake… no; a huge striped monster —long as a snake —was slithering among the buildings nearby, coiling its tinkerbelled tail in some of the highest ones, roaring and looking everywhere with its six different-size eyes. It had a big mouth with a viper tongue and an enormous tooth, like that of a rabbit; and also what seemed to be a couple of ears made of feathers. It really was out of this world; not to mention that it had no neck; the head was floating over its furry chest and I knew my fears had come true.
Was that one of those dangers that Pipoh had told me about? For real?! It didn’t take me long to find out.
“Bibiana!” The whisper sounded right next to my ear and I recognized that voice.
“Yeah, it’s me” he answered. “That thing you see is Jester’s. We have a big situation here so you have to transform”.
“Transform?” That brought me back to the main point. “Now? Here?” I was in the middle of the classroom.
“Yeah, now!” He replied, impatiently. “Find a place to do it and let’s go! We can’t lose a second or it will get much worse!”
I looked around me and realized that the whole class had moved to the window wall. None pas paying attention to anything else, not even to Mr. Peterson —our language teacher —, who was desperately trying to calm everybody down. I couldn’t have chosen a better distraction myself.
Slowly, I sneaked out the classroom and run to the stairs. I had to reach the highest floor before other students crowded the halls and the whole high school was brought into chaos.
Then, Pipoh became visible, flying next to me and proceeded to give me a brief instruction.
“Remember what I taught you yesterday?”
“Em… I think so” I replied, quite stressed myself.
“Do it” he said when we finally got to the last floor. “Now!”
Ok… it was the first time I was about to become my alter ego or, as you know, Majorette. I wasn’t really ready for this —even less after seeing what was waiting for me outside —, but I bit the bullet and took the bracelet off my wrist.
Respecting the ritual, I pronounced the first words of the spell nearly into a whisper: “Majorette, Guardian of the Sacred Baton and the wind, please lend me your power to protect it and also to protect my world”. And then, throwing it over my head, I said the last one. “Transformation!”
The bracelet changed its shape, getting bigger and stretching out until it became the real baton, bright and beautiful. As for me… well, I experimented something incredible. Still today, I can’t compare it to anything else: feelling all that energy flowing through my veins, filling up my body and making me feel so much more alive than ever… and all of that ending in an explosion of color and magic that dressed me up with the cutest clothes I had ever worn. Oh! And one more thing… it even changed my hair color and length, in addition to my irises, who turned aquamarine blue. What could be better than that?
“Wow…” I saw my reflection in one of the windows and couldn’t believe it. “This is… it’s…”
“Cool, I know”. Pipoh finished my sentence and brought me back to the real matter. “Let’s go now!” He used his paws to open the door leading to the rooftop and we found ourselves outside, with a better view of the city and the creature.
“That thing IS huge… what do we do?”
“Well, you have to beat it before it causes any more damage”.
“Wait… you want me to fight that thing… all by myself? Alone?” I stared at him open-mouthed. Was he serious?!
“But of course!” He answered. “You’re the Guardian of the Sacred Baton, now. Apart from you or Jester, nobody else has the power to defeat it. Not me, in any case”.
“Don’t you see how monstrous that thing is?! How am I supposed to beat it if I can’t even approach it without taking the risk to be crushed?!”
“Calm down; I can help you there” he said, all serene. “There’s two ways you can do it. First, you can wake the Dreamer up”.
“Let me explain”. Pipoh cleared his throat before giving me the first lesson to become who I am nowadays. “As you know, Jester is a magician. One of the best, no doubt; so he can use the nightmares of any living being to reproduce them in our reality. Are you following me?”
I nodded. “Yeah… I think”.
“Well, the Dreamer is the host of these nightmares. It can be anybody, but if you manage to wake it up from its trance, the illusion will disappear. However, trying to find it in a city full of people is nearly an impossible mission, that’s true”.
“Well, that’s not helpf… Hold on, you said it’s an illusion? The monster’s not real?”
Pipoh tilted his head, not sure how to answer that.
“It is… and it is not. You see, the illusions are as real as you and I can be. When they disappear, though, most of the damage goes back to its original state”.
“What do you mean?”
“Non-living things”, he specified. “That’ll be restored once you defeat the nightmares but… if during that time people die by any chance…then… ”
“They won’t live again” I completed, realizing the weight of those words.
“Not good… not good at all… oh no, no, no...” I took my hands to my cheeks. WHAT THE HECK HAD I BROUGHT MYSELF INTO?! I had innocent lives in my hands just because I was the only one to use magic?! That was crazy! More than crazy! It was total madness!
“Ok, just take a deep breath and calm down, ok?” He patted me on the head. “There’s still a second way to get rid of the nightmares”.
“And that is…?” I stared at him as the stray puppy that tries to find a kind soul to take it home.
“You can tire it out and then use another spell to destroy it. However, its energy will be connected to the Dreamer’s, so you’ll have to be careful not to kill it before time or you could also kill the…” when he saw my expression he shut his mouth.
I made a brief pause before talking again.
“In other words… whatever I do, I put someone’s life at risk apart from mine”.
“No, you don’t. It’s Jester’s fault that…”
“But I’m the one who has do deal with that responsibility!” I cried, angrily. “I knew I was eating more than I could chew. I knew it…!” I let myself down, literally, and sat on the floor with my knees covering my face. I felt horrible and useless. Real heros had everything figured out; but me? I barely knew how to kick a ball in the right direction with my legs. How was I supposed to beat a titan and save the day if I didn’t even know how to use the power I’d been given?
Pipoh respected a bit my grief, even if time wasn’t in our side. A minute later, he lowered to my level and spoke with his kindest voice.
“Bibi… I know you’re scared. It’s natural… but I promise you can do it. I feel it in you. And you’re the only one with the power to succeed it. Without you, all those people will be doomed. You musn’t give up without trying first…”
“And if I die?” I looked at him from the top corners of my eyes. “What then?”
“You won’t”. And he meant it. “You’re strong; and it can’t be a coincidence for destiny to put me in your way. I believe in you and I will never leave your side; believe me. I’ll help and keep you safe as much as I can”. He took one of my cheeks and pulled my face up. “But you have to believe in yourself too. Because that’s where your real power is”.
Those words were a bit cheesy… but they did had some effect on me. As I had said before, I’d always wanted to be part of something as big as that, to be the movie star in the spotlight, the hero, the main character of an epic adventure… and now that I was there… I couldn’t confront it? Then I realized the real reason why I had to: my family, my friends, all the innocent people I could save… Maybe I was just a teenager, but Pipoh was right: I couldn’t give up before trying, and specially when my loved ones were in danger.
I took a deep breath and let it go while making up my mind. This wasn’t about me… it was about caring for others; and I just had to do it.
“My powers better be the greatest… or we’re dead”. I muttered.
“That’s the spirit!” He punched the air with his paw, ignoring the last part of my sentence. “C’mon, we gotta get closer!”
And so we did.