Not far away from the library, a couple of girls were watching videos on their smartphones while sitting on the stairs that took down to the second floor. They couldn’t help but admire the lady in a red uniform.
“She’s awesome, Lola. I wish I was just like her…” One muttered.
“You can’t be like her, Mina” said her goth friend, her lips in purple. “Not unless you stop being such a chicken with everything.”
“It’s not like I want to be like that.” Replied the other one, with a shy voice.
“Then change.” Insisted Lola. “You can’t even answer to the teacher without stuttering. And what about Gina? You haven’t confessed yet, did you?”
Mina shrug and shrinked in the corner of the step. Her friend sighed and put her smartphone away.
“Time goes on, girl. You may lose your chance if you keep waiting.”
“If I do… sh-she’ll turn me down… she doesn’t like girls that way...”
“So what? At least you won’t lose more time sighing for the wrong one.”
Mina’s face got a little sadder as she took a little puppet from the pocket of her jacket.
“Sometimes… I’d love to be like Mr. spring…”
“Not again.” Lola face-palmed herself. “You still have THAT?”
“It’s important for me.”
“It’s a damn toy from a cartoon! Grow up already!”
Mr. Spring, which was the name of the plushie, was the main character of a TV show that Mina had enjoyed watching as a child. It was about a type of clown that had a spring instead of legs and travelled around the world, meeting children from different races and cultures. The show was supposed to teach youngsters to never give up on their goals and go forward, no matter what their handicaps were. And it became a success for kids.
Mina’s puppet was old and a little damaged, but still her favourite; and she didn’t care about other classmates laughing at her for always carrying it along. At that moment, though, she felt she needed much more strength than usual. What would Gina think? Would she laugh at her too? She was such a cool girl after all… and so pretty that Mina felt insignificant next to her. And she also knew that beautiful Gina liked boys, not girls. So what was the point in trying? She was already rejected. Moreover… she didn’t want to risk the way she saw her. Confessing would change it… and probably not for better.
“Anyway” Lola stood up, “I’m gonna go get a hot cocoa at the cafeteria. You coming?”
Mina shook her head.
“No, I’m going to get some fresh air.”
“In this cold? Whatever. You know where to find me if you change your mind.”
And so she left, leaving Mina alone. The girl stood also up and walked her way out of the building to go to a hidden spot among trees and bushes in the schoolyard, right behind the facilities that were used as a gym for the students.
Just when she got there, her small silhouette blended in with the green shrubs and cringed with a thought in mind. “Will it always be like this for me...?”
It had been a couple days since Jester’s powers had met the new Majorette’s. Not bad for a first impression, but that monster hadn’t been enough, although it had meant a lot of effort for him. Right after it went away, he had felt a painful headache again… and it was stronger than the last one. He had to finish things quickly before it got much worse.
However, now that he’d found somebody to replace Jongleur and help him, he had some new hope. Just needed to make her come to him again and let the other one do the job. This time, though, he’d try something more… playful.
The angle from the roof was perfect. Taking a peek at all those young humans that came and went everywhere around that building called ‘high school’, he’d discovered some interesting targets for his diavolo. Some of those kids —just like Alexander —were left alone or bullied, experiencing hard feelings that flowed through their bodies and into their brains, frustrating them, making them hate everybody around. And those with anger were more powerful than the sad ones. Hate was a hundred times more energetic and dynamic than depression; and Jester knew, for a fact, that a rookie like Majorette would have it difficult to deal with that and, at the same time, protecting the baton from the new kid on the block she was about to meet. He smiled at the thought, a little nostalgic for some reason, and searched with his eyes a potential volunteer from whom he could borrow its willpower. There were so many to choose from… Who could it be?
After a few minutes, his smile lost a bit of enthusiasm. Nobody looked angry, nor stressed enough. In fact, there weren’t much targets outside the building and all of them looked perfectly fine and happy with some kind of hot beverage in their hands. Where was all that frustration and anger he was looking for? Nowhere it seemed.
He walked, looking everywhere from his spot and couldn’t find a single face with pain among those available. The rest were all inside the building, but he couldn’t risk to be discovered. He didn’t look like any of those kids and his clothes would quickly draw some attention… No; he had to use what he had at hand. Maybe it would be better to go find a better option somewhere else? The city was big…
Right when he was considering that option, a girl came out from the main building, wrapped in warm comfy clothes and with a nostalgic look in her face.
Jester watched her walk to an isolated location and curl up; and that was the sign he was looking for.
Carefully, he made sure nobody had spotted him before coming down and creating an illusion to camouflage himself to approach his target. His instincts were right; this kid looked sad enough and there wasn’t anyone better around, so, using his magic, he put her to sleep.
“This will have to do…” he whispered as his power flowed into her deepest thoughts.
I came out of the library with a bitter taste of failure. I hadn’t tried to talk to Alexander again because that cat had really got my tongue. I felt betrayed, not because he refused to work with me directly… but for the coldness in his words and stare. He really saw me like a nuisance; like a rock in his path; he judged me before even taking the chance to know me better… and it sucked.
BUT I wasn’t going to let myself get beaten like that. If he didn’t want to cooperate, I’d be the one to teach him how to make friends; beginning with me. And right after I decided that, a terrible laugh —and when I say ‘terrible’ I mean ‘chaotically freaky’ —reached my ears and those of everybody in the building; I’m sure, because it was so loud that I had to cover mine.
“What the…?!” I approached the nearest window and my eyes went wide open. “NOT AGAIN!”
Another monster?! For real?! I had barely recovered from the first time fighting one of these. How was I supposed to keep this rhythm; seriously?!
I was on the third floor so, conveniently, I didn’t run into anybody on my way to the stairs. This time it didn’t took Pipoh to tell me to transform before we met outside.
“This one’s gonna be a challenge”, he muttered once we inspected the creature from the distance.
“You don’t say.” I replied.
The snakey one was hideous; but this thing? To begin with, it looked like one of those spooky-smile spring-toy clowns from horror movies, with a ruff neck and a long hat, jumping and doing all kinds of somersaults around my high school. His laugh —which reminded me of a crazy stereotyped cartoon character —was soooo annoying that it really made me wanna scream. And it didn’t look like he’d stop moving any time soon.
I checked the school’s clock with a fast look and noticed that the break was already over. Hopefully, this distraction would conceal my absence again, although I couldn’t help but wonder how many excuses would I have to invent until this whole situation ended.
“Really, couldn’t that Jester guy do this on a monthly basis or something? At least I wouldn’t need to lie to my friends so often.”
“Believe me, he’s probably angrier than you at this point.” Said Pipoh, floating to the other side of the wire fence. “Well, first of all, we should take that away just like we did last time.” He added. “There’s too many people around.”
“Right, as if it’s gonna be easy…”
I could still feel the pain in my ribs and I wasn’t sure if I would end up intact this time. The monster wasn’t as scary, but I had the feeling that difficulty had leveled up so I started by jumping the fence with the baton and landing safely on another roof.
“We’re nearer the park, at least” said Pipoh. “It’ll be easier to take it there.”
“Ok… I’ll draw its attention with a beat and then… we run” I said before throwing the baton and preparing myself to get the hell outta there.
However— and I don’t know how —the clown saw it coming and dodged it. When I got the baton back, I threw it again… and again… and again and again. Everytime, that damn puppet would jump and move like Neo from The Matrix —yes, even in slow motion —hiding behind the building or making fun of my efforts and evading all my moves. it was like trying to hit a stupid moving goal in a fun fair stand! And one of the times I nearly hit myself back with the weapon.
“ENOUGH! I’m gonna use the spell directly!”
“DON’T!” Pipoh stopped me before I could even raise my hand. “Remember that you could kill the Dreamer if you do that.”
“Then what?!” My fists were clenching so hard they had turned red under the gloves. “I can’t hit that thing and it doesn’t even get close to us! How am I supposed to tire it?!”
The pixie gave it a thought.
“Well… if we get close enough, you could always try to use the ‘extend’ spell to beat it…”
In my head appeared an image of myself hitting the clown as if it was a snooker ball and it made me knit my brows.
“Hey, it’s worth the try.” He answered back, shrugging his shoulders. “Do you have a better idea?”
I shook my head and jumped again to another roof to get closer, for the creature had moved away from the high school.
In position, I pointed the baton at the clown as if it was a gun and uttered... “Extend.”
The baton lengthened and suddenly stopped when a type of lasso appeared from nowhere and wound around it, competing with my grip.
I followed the threat with my eyes and realized that the culprit was above us, on top of the adjoining building.
“What the…?! Hey! You! Let it go!” I shouted.
“Not gonna happen!”
Just then, I realized it was a man… or a boy, because he sounded younger; couldn’t know yet. However, at that moment my patience wasn’t at its best…