Hitomi the Witch:Part Nine
PART NINE: WHAT A COINCIDENCE
[The Month of Storing]
"Go and avoid those stupid gnomes!" Erika snarled. She and Hitomi were at the arcade; Hitomi watching as Erika struggled to beat her high score at Wingoball. After her ball was absorbed by a yellow Jubjub with a pointed red hat, Erika banged her fist and screamed, "YOU GOOD FOR NOTHING GARDEN GNOME! WHY MUST YOU FOIL MY ATTEMPTS OF GETTING THIS STUPID TROHPY??"
Hitomi glanced around the empty arcade. "Erika, keep your voice down," she urged. "You don’t want to startle anybody."
Erika inserted a few Neopoints into the game. "I don’t care how long it takes," she insisted as the game restarted. "If I can finally get a gold trophy in this stupid game, then my life will finally be complete!" After losing yet another game, Erika groaned loudly and turned to Hitomi with eager—and desperate—eyes. "Say Hitomi…have I ever told you how much you mean to me?"
"Um, Erika?" Hitomi gave her friend a hard stare. "What are you thinking?"
"Oh, nothing too major," Erika said passively. "I was just wondering if you’d perform a [little] bit of magic to, you know, spice up this ridiculously rigged game for your best and most devoted friend in the world?"
Hitomi shook her head. "I’m sorry, but I can’t help you cheat. It wouldn’t be right."
"But you have to!!" Erika restarted the game and, as she watched her ball inch towards the finish line, said, "If I don’t get any magical boosts from you, then I’ll never beat this game! I’ll forever be that Kacheek with the participation medal plaque. What I want to be, however, is the first or possibly fifth Kacheek in Shenkuu to beat Wingoball!"
"My answer still remains a no," said Hitomi.
"Then can you at least poof me up some more Neopoints?" asked Erika. "I’m starting to run out."
"Again, no," said Hitomi.
Erika sighed and continued playing. After playing three more ‘rigged’ games of Wingoball, Erika pounded the game machine with her fists before exiting the arcade with Hitomi. "That moronic game is too good for me anyway," she grumbled. "Like any decent gamer can master all the levels and still get a high score! It’s impossible."
"I’m sure you’ll improve with practice," Hitomi insisted.
"What I need are some cheat codes," Erika mumbled.
Hitomi looked around. "Gosh, it sure is dark now. Should I poof us up a flashlight?"
Erika pointed to the towering streetlights. "Nah. We’ll just let these thingies light the way for now." She stretched her arms and groaned loudly. "I need a message ASAP. Those stupid games of Wingoball stiffened my shoulders with their rigged-ness."
"Here, take this." Hitomi poofed a hot compress into Erika’s hands. "Place this on your shoulders for now. It’ll help relieve the pain."
As the girls passed their school, Erika pointed to the three field lights shining brightly over the field. "Hey, is the school still open? I thought they’d be closed by now."
"I bet the Yooyuball team is doing some late night practising," Hitomi suggested. "They do have that upcoming Yooyuball championship coming up."
"Ooh, let’s see!" Erika grabbed Hitomi’s wrist and led her towards the field.
As the girls approached the fence, they saw the members of the Yooyuball team sprawled on the ground, wincing in pain and fatigue. Hiro, the team captain, was glowering at his team-mates. "Up and atom, lazy bones! We need to keep practising!"
A pink Blumaroo shook his head warily. "We’re….we’re too tired," he gasped. "We need rest….now."
"You can rest when we win the championships!" Hiro barked. "Now GET UP!"
"I never knew that fine-as-Chadley Hiro can be such a dictator," Erika whispered.
Hitomi examined Hiro and, piercing through the fire Zafara’s shaggy brown hair, were a pair of icy blue eyes. "Say Erika, were Hiro’s eyes always icy blue?"
"Nope. They were always a shade of dreamy chocolate," Erika sighed dreamily.
Hiro turned to the fence and glared. "What are you two doing here??" he demanded. Before the girls could respond, Hiro kicked a fire Yooyuball towards them.
Immediately, Hitomi grabbed Erika and pulled her away from the fence before the Yooyuball struck it. Furious, Erika stomped towards Hiro and, placing her hands on her hips, barked, "What in Neopia is wrong with your gorgeous self!? How dare you attack two innocent girls with a fire Yooyuball! If the Defenders of Neopia were here, they’d haul you all the way to a prison far, far away!"
"Erika…" Hitomi mumbled.
"As if the Defending Losers of Neopia can stop me," a mysterious voice scoffed. Hitomi gripped Erika’s arm and both girls gasped when, right behind Hiro, a yellow Usul appeared with a superior smirk in her face. "Well, if it isn’t my favourite lil’ witch," she said smugly. "What a coincidence."
Hitomi’s eyes grew wide. "Ki-Kirara!" she gasped.
"Oh great, not this psycho again," said Erika, rolling her eyes. "And to think I believed this month was going to be a peaceful one."
"You were wrong." Kirara flipped her pigtails. "Now then," she said to Hiro, "send another one of those flaming Yooyuballs towards Hitomi and her sidekick. And try not to miss this time, okay?"
Hiro nodded and kicked another fire Yooyuball towards Hitomi, who stepped out of the way in the nick of time. "Please Hiro, stop listening to Kirara," Hitomi pleaded. "You don’t have to attack us! We’re your friends, remember?"
"Technically, we’re just distant acquaintances," Erika insisted. She then pointed a finger at Kirara. "As for YOU: I, Erika Aino, am nobody’s sidekick!"
"Tell somebody who cares." Kirara snapped her fingers. "Hiro, hurry and do your thing."
Hitomi and Erika were able to dodge the eleven enflamed Yooyuballs Hiro kicked towards them. Just as Hiro was kicking his twelfth ball, Hitomi reached into her jacket pocket for her Spell Charm. [I have to think of something fast! Hiro might hit us if we aren’t careful.] Yet before Hitomi could cast a spell, her hand froze in her pocket. She began to panic as the numbness begun to spread up her arm and into her body. "I-I can’t move," Hitomi gasped as the numbing feeling trickled down her legs.
"What’s wrong?" asked Erika, stepping to the right to avoid a Yooyuball. Just as she turned to face Hitomi, her body suddenly froze and, in a worried voice, she asked, "Wh-What’s happening to us? Why can’t I move??"
Kirara laughed. "How lovely: two foes frozen by a time spell. Now it’ll be ever-so-easy for Hiro to hit his targets."
"What’d you do to him?" Hitomi demanded.
"Oh, nothing too major," Kirara said casually, examining her fingernails. "I just used an ice spell to turn this twit into a temporary minion. I [was] going to have him attack you tomorrow, but what were the odds that you and what’s-her-name were going to visit the Neoschool at this hour? Talk about a coincidence!" Hiro nodded and sent another fire Yooyuball towards his targets.
Now that they were unable to move, Hitomi and Erika watched helplessly as Hiro kicked numerous fire Yooyuballs towards them. Each ball zoomed past them and at each turn, Hiro was slowly angling his kicks to inch closer and closer to his targets—especially Hitomi, who winced as each Yooyuball zoomed past her. After a while, however, Hitomi noticed that Hiro’s demeanour was changing. He kept panting heavily and his shaggy brown hair was now dripping profusely with sweat. It seemed that his posture was weakening due to fatigue, yet despite whatever pain he must have been feeling, Hiro kept kicking Yooyuballs. After another Yooyuball was sent flying towards her—and zoomed past her—Hitomi gasped, "Kirara, you have to stop him! He’s getting exhausted and I don’t think he can go on for much longer!"
"Yeah, and he looks hideous with all that sweat," Erika remarked.
Kirara shook her head. "I’m afraid I can’t allow that girls," she insisted. "Though if Hitomi has a deep desire to save her beloved Yooyuball captain, then I guess I [can] stop if she, oh I don’t know, gives up her Spell Charm."
"Dream on, you idiot!" Erika scoffed. "Hitomi’s too smart to fall for your manipulation."
"Fine, she can do what she wants," said Kirara. "But I don’t know what’ll happen in the end: either somebody gets scorched or faints from exhaustion." She shrugged. "I suppose we’ll just have to watch and see what events unfold."
[I can’t,] Hitomi thought, [and I will never let her win! Her games have to stop…and I WILL be the one to stop her!] Suddenly feeling a warm tingling sensation in her body, Hitomi realized that her Spell Charm was glowing brightly and that the spell Kirara placed on her had been lifted. Seizing this chance, she immediately poofed up a purple healing orb and threw it at Hiro, who absorbed it and collapsed to the ground. "Thank goodness he’s alright," Hitomi sighed with relief.
Kirara glared at Hitomi. "Well, you must be thinking highly of yourself, correct?" she asked, smirking. "Because I wouldn’t: if you weren’t so selfish, that poor sap would never have crossed my path."
"Like Hitomi’s to blame for your psychotic episodes," Erika hissed, waving a fist.
"Kirara, you mustn’t continue this pursuit," Hitomi insisted. "It would be terrible if more innocent lives are put at stake because of our personal problems."
"You are such an annoying Mary-Sue," Kirara snarled before poofing away in a swirl of black smoke.
"She is such an annoying drama queen," Erika groaned. "Doesn’t she have anything better to do than ruin our lives?"
"Erika," Hitomi said solemnly, "I don’t think my fight with Kirara will end just yet. In fact, I fear she’ll continue with her reckless assaults before…well, before…"
"What are you talking about? This is [our] battle, not just yours," Erika insisted.
Hitomi shook her head. "I’m afraid this is only between the two of us, Erika. Kirara has it very clear; everybody caught in the middle were nothing but inconveniences to her." She straightened her shoulders. "But don’t worry. I know that, someday, the fighting still stop and Kirara will be defeated once and for all. And the only one who can bring that peace is me."
To be continued…