It’s not every day that a former magical girl gets near-fatally stabbed.
Bailey’s day had actually been going well up until that point. Just hours earlier she had wrapped up a BabelTube livestream in celebration of a major accomplishment for the magical idol-turned-influencer: officially passing half a million followers on her BabelGram account. Bailey, who had taken on the online name ‘BaileyBelle’, was trying diligently to produce content and hopefully get some form of agency representation for her influencer career, although independently she had been doing pretty well for herself to this point.
Starting out, a lot of her content was focused on cosplay and beauty—how to style a wig to match the hair styles of the different Sailor Galaxy characters, how to determine the best colored contacts to order for cosplaying a specific character, things like that. But what really made her presence grow was her content related to the fact that she herself used to be an idol singer and a magical girl in real life. The videos she started making about her past life were what netted her the most views:
“How I Reacted When I First Transformed into a Magical Girl” — 8.6 Million Views
“How Magical Girl Transformations Are Choreographed” — 3.9 Million Views
“Choosing You and Your Squad’s Magical Girl Names” — 4.8 Million Views
There was clearly an apparent and eager audience for this kind of content which only an ex-magical girl like Bailey could provide: a rare glimpse into the glamorous world of magical girl idols and the opaque performance culture built up around them.
But Bailey wasn’t a magical girl or an idol anymore. She was an influencer trying to make a living with her content and her cosplays. The quintessential mahou-shoujo geek long before she herself even transformed, Bailey’s debuts of her own cosplays on BabelGram was some of her proudest content, financed by her monthly OnPatron revenue and the occasional sponsorship from a makeup or cosplay brand. Bailey tried to keep her cosplays from getting explicitly adult, but a lot of the more risqué ones, perhaps to her chagrin, were always the most popular with the algorithm. Bailey was reluctant to get too provocative with her cosplays as opposed to just general makeup and wig work, and she was spending a good deal of thought on weighing the complicated decisions of narrowing her brand image and how it’d affect her revenue and career going forward. At 23 years old and never having attended college, she felt like she had to be savvy about her influencer career and her finances. What else was there for a former magical girl to do?
But that Friday afternoon wasn’t the time to be focusing on the long-term decisions; Bailey should be focusing on a well-deserved celebration of that big 500k. It was mid-afternoon as she was relaxing in her San Figueroa apartment, when a loud knock invited itself at her doorstep. She didn’t get many IRL visitors and was probably assuming that it was the dropoff for one of her incoming cosplay packages. She looked out the peephole to the hallway, only to see no one was there.
She opened the door and looked down. No package. She looked down at the columned hallway. No one. Just as she was wondering if it was maybe some sort of practical joke from a kid who might’ve lived on the same floor, the unthinkable happened.
Two men sprang out from behind each of the columns at her side. Bailey tried to scream, but they had her gagged before any real noise could come out. The suit and sunglasses-clad men pushed her back into her apartment.
One of the men took out a dagger and a vial containing a dark liquid. Bailey saw the man slather the blade in liquid, before coldly plunging it into the top of her forearm and slicing downward in one clean, calculated strike. Bailey, still gagged, cried out in unheard pain as the second man put a bag over her head, heavily restricting her breathing. Bailey was terrified and began to feel disoriented as the two attackers stormed out of the apartment just as quickly as they had appeared. The fire alarm in the building began to ring as Bailey began losing consciousness, her final thought being that this was very likely the final moment of her life itself.
Bailey was rushed to the emergency room, unconscious, where the doctors determined that her slash wound was steeped with a low-dose coma-inducing neurotoxin. Bailey would live, although she would be spending at least the next several weeks in a coma, and would need to undergo therapy and recovery long after that before being able to return to her life beforehand. The rarity of the drug and the precision of the wound made it apparent that this was intended to not be a lethal attack, and the lack of any theft in Bailey’s apartment, of any other damage to her person, or any attacks on other residents had ruled out any presumable motives for the obviously premeditated attack. People in the vicinity of her apartment complex gave multiple independent reports of what looked like two yakuza agents fleeing at around that time of day.
But why? Why would hitmen be hired to attack with the sole purpose of putting their victim into a coma, and why, of all people, would this happen to a former magical girl? This incident sent shockwaves through the heart of the magical girl community, with everyone, magical or not, ultimately asking themselves the same frightening question:
“What keeps magical girls safe from danger after they lose their powers?”
“That’s everything we know about Bailey’s attack,” Tiffany told me, finishing up her account of the incident as apparently gathered from the developing news stories and the independent investigation currently underway by the agency that used to represent us. The details only made me feel more disturbed. Tiffany just shrugged, defeated and melancholy.
“It’s…it’s absolutely horrifying to think something like that would happen to a former magical girl, much less Bailey,” I responded. “And there’s still no suspects and no motive?”
Our conversation was paused as the waiter arrived with our drinks. Tiffany, the rich girl she was, had repeatedly told me she was paying; but I didn’t want anything fancier than just scotch and soda. She had opted for blue gin martini with a twist of purple sugar apple—it was as vibrant-looking as it sounds and probably three times as pricey. We were at the most expensive hibachi restaurant in Los Cosmopilas, overlooking the endless cityscape as night had just fallen.
“But no matter what the detective or the agency investigations find, we’re going to be making things better, aren’t we?”
I was still pretty shocked about the details of the story, but I could tell she was trying to reassure me and keep things light. Tiffany primly rose her drink to her lips and silently sipped, somehow still smiling at me as the flicker of the paper lanterns overhead reflected off of her long, sheened-black hair.
“I’d already spent months working on implementing this idea for enhancing the curricula for magical girl trainees, but in the wake of this whole thing with Bailey…I knew I just needed to reach out to you after and get you on-board. Magical girls stick together, right?”
“Magical girls stick together,” I responded. Tiffany smiled wider, sentimentally looking me in the eyes. She began to move out one of her hands forward as if she was almost going to start holding my hand, but she seemed to decide against it, choosing to refocus things on me.
“And remind me Ellery, how did you find out about Bailey’s attack on Friday? How have things been for you lately?”
Tiffany’s life, pre-and-post magical girl, was steeped in the glamour of elite high society. She was probably expecting me to talk about some huge jet-setting project I was orchestrating, or some major record label I was about to sign with, or some other flavor of wildly successful shit that the “how have things been for you” question entails in her kinds of circles. But my life really wasn’t as glamorous as hers, even if I was still a magical girl. I smiled awkwardly at her for a moment, thinking back to Friday and just how boring my life had been as of late. If nothing else, thinking back to the other day reinforced how suddenly things had begun to change for me.