Brightstar: The Rising Superhero
How did we arrive here?
Cotton candy in my hand and a joyous hat that screams the word ‘FUN!’ in bold capital letters. The trip took about an hour and a half. It was near the outskirts of the city, so I half expected it would take that long. I can’t believe I went along with it
Juliet turned to me, brimming with overabundant joy. How could she not? With all the surrounding excitement. From the Ferris ride to the rollercoaster. Everything excites her, even the haunted house and the coin presser machine.
The light. The noise. There’s nothing like an hour and a half bus trip to the Amusement park to break the awkward wall between us. She was having so much fun, she didn’t even care who I was, and it was surprising to see her this happy. It made me didn’t mind the hour and a half-long trip just to see her unfiltered smile.
She pulled my arm and off we got the next ride. Soon even I was lost in her sea of happiness. She was contagious. Before long, I had forgotten about my troubles and I saw it in her too.
Juliet brought me to a photo booth then pushed me in before squeezing in beside me. She slid in the coins before pressing herself against my side. I felt her heartbeat thumping as she leaned her chest against my arm. Even her soft blueberry fragrance was as clear to me as the evening skies above.
I turned my head, hiding the flushed cheek. However, I had forgotten about the picture. After a couple of snaps, I managed to strike up a smile at the end while looking at the camera. A strip of pictures dropped into the slot. I took it and saw my embarrassing awkward self until the last picture.
“Can I see it?”
“You wouldn’t like it. It’s ruined. I ruined the picture.”
“I want to see it.” She pouted.
“Okay… I warned you,” I gave her the strip of pictures.
After taking a look, she understood what happened. A smile formed on her face, I wasn’t able to identify what kind of smile it was because she turned around. Her eyes wandered to me and back to the picture before keeping it in her pocket.
“I don’t mind if we take another one.”
“It’s okay. I like this one.”
“Kenn, what are you doing here?” I recognize that voice.
I turned around to meet with Jake, but I was surprised at what behold in front of me. A chipmunk. An oversized creature that is. Fuzzy and overly joyous. Aimed to entertain children. An urge had grown in me as I stared at this creature. This chipmunk looks soft, I want to hug it, but I doubt he would let me do it.
It wouldn’t hurt if I try, “Jake, can I hug you?”
“What are you talking about?”
Jake tilted his adorable chipmunk head at Juliet. It caused the girl to fidget in a blush as her hand patted his arm. I wouldn’t blame her because I’m doing the same thing. The soft sensation ran against my palm as I rubbed his furs. The tailor did a work of wonder with this costume. From its softness to its fluffiness, everything is perfect except for the mohawk.
Why did they even put that there? Is this a punk version of the chipmunk mascot?
“What are you guys doing here?”
“So soft…” Juliet planted herself on his fluffy back.
“Sorry dude. Just this one time.” I embraced Jake from the front causing him to groan and fidget.
“This is the third time today. Now get off me.” Jake shook us away as if we were thrown to the street with nothing in our hands.
Alright, it didn’t happen like that, but that's what it felt like. Being cast out from home, truly a tragedy. I already missed the softness even though it only had been a few seconds, and when I checked on Juliet, she felt the same way I do, albeit, with tears in her eyes.
“Anyway to answer your earlier question.” I took Juliet’s hand with mine. “We are on a date!”
Jake’s jaw dropped at the mere thought of me having a date with a girl before he could. Sure, it was a lie, but Jake didn't know that. I leaned myself near Juliet’s ear and whispered, “Sorry about this. I just want to mess with---”
When I glanced down, her legs were shaking. I brought my sight above and found her face had gone bright red. She had bitten her bottom lip while keeping her sight downward. There’s practically steam coming out of her.
It must have been embarrassing for her with what I said earlier. It doesn't help with my hand around hers and the one-inch distance between us. Before I got hit for going overboard with my joke, I quickly let go of her and backed away into a comfortable distance.
I bowed my head, seeking forgiveness. “Sorry, it was a joke. I didn't mean to upset you.”
“N--No, I was just surprised! Are you thirsty? I am! Be right back! I’m going to get us drinks!” Juliet left both of us in a rush.
“Wait...” I tried to stop her, but she already left the area.
“Kenn, can I speak to you alone for a quick sec?” Jake took off his chipmunk head. “Are you sure about letting Ria become a Hero?”
“Yes, it’s hard enough to see you this week. With your training and my part-time job. So did you talk to Ria?”
“Kenn! Take this seriously. I’ve seen you get hurt before. I didn’t like you putting yourself in danger. And now Ria is going to do the same thing?”
“It’s...” A sigh escaped me. I know where this conversation was going. It’s uncomfortable for me to speak about it, and it goes the same for Jake. “It’s her decision.”
“Of course it is. Just like Solana’s. I know you remember it. I do too. Every single morning I wake up from a dream where she is still with us. If only we had done something.”
“Stop,” I muttered, and it stunned Jake. I took a long breath. “I’ll talk to her. So stop. Stop bringing her up.” The beating of my heart had grown to a painful beat the more I think about her.
“Kenn, I didn’t mean to hurt you.” Jake extended his hand to comfort me, but I backed away.
“It’s nothing.” I waved my hand before walking away from him.
I heard Jake called my name a couple of times, but I didn’t reply. I needed to be alone. I thought I had got over Solana. I’m a fool for believing that. There is no way I could be fine, not after what I did and not after what happened to her.
The man turned his head, a bit shocked, but calmed himself when he saw the living skeleton in a robe beside him. Haru took a seat on a mossy wooden log after taking in a breath.
The skeleton shifted closer, then took a seat beside him. She rested her head on his shoulder. Haru took her skeleton hand with his. Then leaned his ink-covered katana against the wooden log underneath him.
It was a sweet moment of love except for the massive amount of abomination lay dead in front of them. Creature of misshapen dogs with extra heads and tentacles.
Cut and shred as if a beast had torn into them.
The area was too foggy for anyone to see through. Even with the fog obscuring his vision, Haru still could make out the blackened earth beneath his feet.
“Can you say my name three times?”
“Haru.” The first time Aeterna said his name, she said it in a clear tone.
“Haru~” The second time, she purred his name.
“Haru!” The third time, she yelled out adorably as if she was confessing her undying love.
“Thank you. I needed to hear that.” A smile grew on his face. “Are we getting close?”
Behind them, a path of darkness and smog surrounded by wilted trees. Its blackened branches grew outward and distorted. A dread ambience surrounded them. However, the smell is not that bad, good even. It has a citrusy and slightly sweet scent to it.
“The smell of Poppies. Yes, we are. Through that forest,” Aeterna answered.
"You know, I kinda wish I brought a picnic basket."
"So we could have ourselves a picnic."
"In this dark spooky forest?"
"Yep. The moody atmosphere and the dreary sight. It's dangerous, creepy, dark, mysterious. Perfect for a gothic-style date. Our hearts beat rapidly against our will. Either because of the fear of the unknown or better yet... love. Passion." Haru's fingers crawled up her arm then he purred, "I think it’s the second one."
"Haru, nooo…” The way she said it reminded Haru of a playful cat.
Haru knew that she wanted it as much as he does, “You can place a teleportation totem here, and we can teleport back home and here in a jiffy.”
“Teleportation totem? Ahh, I see your study of my books has benefited you a lot while I was gone.”
"I couldn't help myself. Your book has your scent on it. Oh, your lovely scent alone tugs my heart. Every second without you was torturous, but I had to withstand it. For us."
"My love…" She stared into his deep gaze.
A loud deep growl from the dead forest interrupted their conversation.
A sigh from Haru, yet he still stood up from his seat. However before he faced off the big bad monster, Haru took Aeterna's bony hand and laid a kiss on it along with a wink for her.
Three times the size of the earlier enemy. An abomination the same as before. It’s a two-headed dog with six legs and six tentacles on the back. Gruesome sight and disgusting as its ink saliva dripped from its sharp maw. Six of its red beady eyes glared at the man.
“I shall defeat you in honour of my love, Aeterna.”
It roared at Haru, thinking it could scare the man. Well, it didn't do anything significant except blasted its bad breath and saliva at him. However, one tiny mistake risks its life. A small sprinkle of saliva landed on Haru’s dress shirt causing him to look down and go quiet.
It took one step forward, hesitating. In response, Haru's entire posture turned into an Air stance. His blade is now hidden in its sheath behind him while the pommel was facing the creature. It moved slightly and quickly Haru jumped to the left, avoiding its powerful bark,
Unrelenting with its attack, the beast charged and bared its fangs at Haru. So ever graceful, Haru evaded the unrelenting attack as if he was dancing around the creature. Before anyone knew it, he was standing on top of the creature snot with ease. It wiggled and swung its claws to remove Haru, even so far as using its tentacles, but the man easily evaded any attack without much effort.
The creature was fast while Haru was a bit slow in terms of movement, but his reaction was godly. The creature has speed, but what is speed if it can't even hit its target. A clap from Aeterna is a signal for it’s time to end this.
Cracking his neck, he stared down the creature. “This shirt was a gift.”
The creature roared and threw Haru in the air using its snout. A smile carved on Haru’s face as the creature opened its jaw and readied to devour the man. He pushed himself out of the way by tapping the tip of his scabbard against its fang.
“Tashikawa style: Whirlwind.” With a swirling movement, Haru laid six cuts along its snout before landing gracefully.
However, the cuts barely leave any mark. A grin appeared on Haru’s face, “You’re a tough one, aren't you?”
It roared, now, even more, angrier than before. Haru took another stance ‘Water’ before the creature charged. Using the creature's momentum, Haru redirected its charge toward a tree. Instead of stopping, it rammed and tore the tree in two before returning for another charge.
“Truth be told, I don't have the strength to cut through your tough skin.”
The moment the creature was in range, Haru took the full brunt of the force and almost let the katana slide out of his hand. Yet he withstood it and redirected the creature into a turn.
“Tashikawa style: Flow.” Instead of letting the force leave the blade, he redirected it against the creature's belly. The creature tore into two while it was sent back into the foggy forest.
With the creature taken care of, Haru turned around and took a bow for Aeterna.
Back at the amusement park.
I didn’t know where to go, but I had to go away. So I wandered around with no destination in mind. Until I arrived at this hill with an overlooking view of the entire amusement park. I leaned forward against the railing and took the view in. The sunset drowned in the distance, a symphony of colourful lights began covering the whole land.
A thought crossed my mind, I accidentally left Juliet behind.
“Damn it, I forgot about her. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.” I launched myself into a run.
My momentum kept on rising. I missed a few steps while going downhill and nearly cost me a quick and painful trip. Even if I did fall, it won’t stop me anyway. The level of stupidity I achieved deserves a fall like that. I shouldn't be bothered by that old thing and just have fun with Juliet. Now, she is alone out there, probably looking for me. This is a new low for Kenn T. Johnson, leaving a friend behind like that.
As soon as I arrived, I was met with a row of people huddled behind a wall of railings as a parade marched past them. I didn’t even want to focus on the floats. I need to find her, but all these people here make it harder to traverse. I don’t even know where she might be.
“Phone! Damn it, Kenn, calm yourself. Call her.” I took out my phone and dialled her numbers. It went straight to voicemail. Her battery might be out.
“Ok, the last time I saw her was at that place where I met Jake. I should call him.” I tried getting in contact with his phone, but all of it went to voicemail.
I kept on running toward the place where I last met Juliet. The parade behind me slowly shrunk in the distance as I entered a more dim-lit area. There are a few couples on sight, but no sign of Juliet. As I went forward more, I saw her on the bench with two cups of drink beside her. She was waiting for me the whole time.
“I’m an idiot,” I said to myself as I walked toward her.
When I arrived, she lifted her gaze at me. There were tears in her eyes while her lips were shut together, forming a frown at the edge of her mouth. She must have been angry at me. I took a seat right next to her. “Juliet, I’m sorry. I was a freakin’ idiot. I didn't know why I left---”
Before I could finish any sentence, Juliet planted her face against my arm while she gripped my sleeves tightly. “I thought you left me.”
She’s trembling against my arm and I can feel her heartbeat, it’s pounding.“What? No! I just got overwhelmed with Jake bringing up Solana and training. I needed to be alone. Please forgive me, I didn’t mean to upset you.”
Her grips tightened even further.
Suddenly, I screamed my heart out which led to Juliet leaning away from me and took a second look at me. Out of nowhere, I ran to the pond and threw myself into it. It’s the only way I could cool myself down and clear my head. Juliet ran up to me, extending her hand. I took it and she helped me stand again.
“Why did you jump?”
A chilling breeze went by me and sent a chill down my back. I put on my biggest smile before pulling Juliet along with me toward the parade.
“Where are we heading?” asked Juliet.
“To the parade! We came here to have fun, and I won’t let your first time coming here be ruined by my stupidity.”
Before we could even make it, a thundering roar boomed across the evening skies and caused us to stop and lifted our gaze to the heavens. Colourful lights shimmering amongst the stars and brightened it up with quite a spectacular sight. It was a firework show, the biggest one yet or so they mentioned on the website.
Juliet stood by my side. Suddenly, Her grip tightened around my hand as she stared at the fireworks with awe and sparkles in her eyes. “I never saw one so close before.”
“Come on, there are still more fun things to do. We should join the parade.”
“Are you sure? It’s getting late. My dad doesn’t mind if I text him first, but what about your mom?”
“I’m sure she will be fine. And don’t you worry, I will never leave your side until I get you home safely. So let’s have fun before they close this place.”
We did just that. I brought her to all the sideshows and rides they could offer. Before we even noticed it, the stuff I did was gone into the wind and forgotten amidst the chaos of fun. Though Juliet may have forgotten about it but not me. I held close to that feeling, to the anger I had for myself after what I did to Juliet. I won’t let it happen again.
After we had conquered every ride and gone to every sideshow. We ended our day by taking the Ferris wheel and took in the view from high above. It is a beautiful view as we overlooked Nirvana city from up here.
However, it's a bit awkward in here because it seems the majority of people taking this ride are couples. Even the operator mistakes us for a couple, and it’s kinda when I think about it.
“It’s beautiful up here,” I said while looking out of the window.
Juliet left her seat and walked to the door, so she could get a full view of the city. She placed a hand against the glass. Somehow I caught a glimpse of sadness in her gaze. It came and went within seconds, but I’m pretty sure it was there.
“Is there something wrong?”
“Nothing-” A strong gust of wind shook the carriage and caused the door to open. There’s a shock on her face as her body began to tilt back toward the open doorway.
In mere seconds, I pushed myself off the seat and wrapped my arm around her waist while my other hand clenched tightly around the handle. I pulled her in without thinking and we both slipped back into the carriage.
She lay on top of me while I took several deep breaths as I tried to gather my thoughts on what just happened. My gaze wandered back to her and found a loving smile on Juliet’s face. She wrapped her arms around me then tightly embraced me.
“Are you okay?” I asked as I tried to figure what’s going on.
“Thank you.” She whispered after she planted her face beside mine.
I couldn't figure anything to say, so I went with a normal reply after someone thanked me. “You’re welcome?” It came out weird like I was asking her a question because all of it happened too fast for me to gather a proper reply.
Though it was strange, when I glanced at the lock, it was broken, but It wasn't broken when we got on. It must be a very strong gust of wind to break a lock like that. No matter, as long as no one got hurt.
Back at Kenn’s apartment, Catty rested her chin on her hands as she stared at the cake in front of her. She had prepared everything for both of them to celebrate and motivated her son for the coming week. She even had a ‘Good luck’ written in cursive on the vanilla cake.
This cake was supposed to be a celebration just for the two of them. She wanted her son to know that she supported him 100%, and it doesn't matter if he failed or not because she still loves him no matter what.
Now all Catty had to do was wait for her son, but for an unknown reason, her son was late. In her mind, she speculated that her son must have been training. She knows him too well, she knows when her son has a goal in mind, he won't stop until he achieves it. A quality that she admired.
However, as Catty waits and waits, Kenn still hasn't got home yet. She turned to her phone, hesitating whether to text him or not. She wanted it to be a surprise. It doesn't matter, Catty was pretty sure that her son is fine and on his way back home right this instance. She just needs something to do to pass the time, but there’s nothing to do. All the chores in her home had been done earlier that very afternoon.
Catty let out a sigh as she glanced around her home. Every time she looked around, her gaze always stopped at the cabinet beside her bedroom door. She placed a hand against her chest before walking toward the cabinet. Opening one of the drawers, she found a picture in a small frame, perfect for a single portrait.
That portrait contained a man with crimson hair, freckles on his face, oceanic eyes as blue as the sea, and a chiselled jaw. However, one characteristic that stands out the most from the rest, it’s his goofy smile.
Looking at that goofy smile, she let out a chuckle before her eyes became moist. She held that picture close to her chest before looking around her apartment.
Nothing left except a ghost of her past. She could recall it as clear as day, her husband sat on that sofa with baby Kenn in his arms. He was so doting on her son as if he was his son. That's not right, Kenn was his son and Philip treated him like so.
Catty! Catty! Honey! Kenn just call me papa!
She remembered getting mad over that, but now it's nothing more than a faded bittersweet memory. Admitting as such pained her heart and caused a tear to run down her cheek.
Juliet unlocked her apartment door while I waited behind her. I think she’s gonna be fine from here. I should leave before the neighbours start gossiping about us, besides, it's late. An incidental peek inside, I found it odd that her living room was bare bone of any non-essential furniture like a television.
Before I could go, Juliet stopped me, "Kenn, thank you again for today."
"No problem. It was fun."
"Hey Kenn, one more thing. If you need help or someone to listen, I'm here for you."
I wouldn’t say there wasn’t a thing that's been bothering me, "If you don't mind, I've been having problems with my training. For some reason, there is this stance that has been a pain in my ass since I started training. No matter what I tried, no matter how much I want it to be, I still couldn't get it right."
"Oh, tell me more."
We both make our way to the stone railing in front of her front door.
"My aunt told me that I think too much and too little when I get into a fight. Terrible advice if you ask me, but what do I know, I'm not a battle-hardened veteran like her. What does she even mean by thinking too much and too little? Maybe she’s right, I'm overthinking it."
My gaze wandered at the night sky before returning to find Juliet by my side. Looking at her reminded me of the Ferris wheel incident. Suddenly, the gears inside my head started to turn. An idea emerged.
“No, it couldn't be that simple,” I said in disbelief at what my head had conjured up.
“What is?” asked Juliet as she looked at me with curiosity.
“I think I get it. Back when I saved you from falling, my body was moving on its own like it was instinct, but what if I could use that somehow.”
“I got it!” My outburst of cheer caused Juliet to flinch a little.
“What is it?”
Out of sheer excitement, I embraced Juliet causing her face to redden. “Thank you, Juliet.”
I’m sorry about this, but I need to go.” I left her side then set out toward the exit, but not before I waved my goodbye at her. “See you at school!”