“So, you’re saying that we’re just going to let him die?”
The look that Enteng gave her was different. His brows were softened yet serious. His mouth was slightly trembling in this sort of grin that seemed to beg for their safety. He seemed like he was almost glad about dying—at the thought of dying for them. She didn’t even do anything yet. All she did was not cut his head off one time and touch George.
Now, Joey’s apologizing after Enteng practically saved his beaten ass while Uncle was still busy mouthing the names of game buffs and spreading the superglue that he smeared on the surface of his headband. Few were still screaming, and the rest of the boys were practically enthralled by that old man’s display of skill.
“Bro,” she continued.
Uncle turned, took out a phone from his pocket, and looked at her. Enang breathed and closed her eyes. She raised a finger and gave him a pure, patient smile to stop herself from ripping his face off.
“Are you going to let them die?”
Her eyebrows twitched. “What…”
“That old man is strong. He was a teacher, and he taught kids how to fight with sticks in my high school. I am definitely stronger than him and you, especially, but those guys would be toast against him in a straight-up fight. But am I going to let that old man die?” He scoffed. “Hell no.”
“I’m making sure that I’m perfectly capable of helping him,” Uncle continued. “Have you seen the look on his face when he specifically looked at me, George, and that guy?” He pointed her to Joey, who tried picking himself up from the floor after getting kicked again. “He’s pathetic, but he’s nice to George.”
But everyone was nice to George, and he just agreed with them. He was not being nice to George. He was pleasing them. He’s a pathetic piece of shit that didn’t have the guts to fight for what he thought was a good idea.
“That being said, I know that you saw him look at us wanting to die. I’m taking the extra time to prepare so that I would be able to save his suicidal ass, too, not just to let him not die. Greater Determination won’t work on him. With the power that’s been given to me, I need to be there. I can do it this time. I can definitely go out. You’ve felt it, too, right?”
“You’re wasting your time.”
“You’ll have a dream. There, you’ll meet someone, somewhere, who proclaims themselves as a God, and they will tell you things. Everything changes after that.”
“I’m starting to feel like I’m the hottest guy in the world and that this small place, my room, would not be enough to contain me. That’s why…” He gritted his teeth, snatched George from the table, brushed the dirt off the bottom of his pot, and put him over the headband. “I’ll be with Enteng this time, and I won’t run. I’ll protect him. You joining me?”
Enang stepped back. She could. She could. To save that man, she could. But she imagined the world beyond that closed door, thinking about what might be happening and the number of things that would kill her in one hit. She shivered and took a breath through her parted lips. Uncle was still looking at her. She sniffed, stepped forward, and bared her teeth. Yes. She just needs to force that word out, but why was it so hard?
She looked down and embraced herself.
“It’s fine… I’ll just protect you, too, Sis.”
Hands. She gritted her teeth. There were hands. Something was behind her back, but she continued to move until she felt the cold touch of a wall. But, that embraced her, too. Hands. Darkness spawned around her, forming fingers that guided its way to snake around her limbs, to wrap, constrict, suffocate, and force her in place.
Enang felt the weight of someone else, the sweet smell of another woman that placed a burden on her back as big and as ethereal as the distant face of the moon. It moved. The woman’s silky hair brushed the side of her neck and her bare shoulders as she embraced her. She clicked her wet lips over her ear and let out a playful chuckle.
“Come on,” she breathed. “don’t be shy.”
Enang gasped and crumbled to the floor. Her eyes wandered. Uncle had already left her and faced the door. Draped by a bedsheet as a cape, he had his trusty knife in his right hand and a mosquito racket on his left. George was glued at the top of his head like some sort of accessory.
“Don’t look at me like that,” her chest tightened. “please…”
Uncle turned to gaze at her. This time, it was different. He was serious. There was no pity in it, even as he walked back to pat her head.
“Feel free to scream and cheer us on. Might scare them, too.”
“You son of a bitch,” Enang forced a laugh, touched the hand on the top of her head, and ran her fingers at the edge of his cape. The burden somewhat got lighter. “I’ll help. I’ll help you guys out, so try not to die.”
“I’ll also need you to do this.” Uncle gave her a phone. “Watch me,” he smiled. “I’ll go out there and make my entrance, so play some good music for me, too. If the portable speaker I left in my room above was still on, then it would be great, and it’ll be awesome.”
Enang turned to his other weapon. “And your…”
“This is my legendary weapon.” Uncle smiled and clicked the button to turn on the little flashlight resting at the hilt of his mosquito racket. “The Bane of Bloodsuckers; the Blade of Crackling Thunder, as the name shows. I’ve been fully stacked with buffs. I was able to equip myself with weapons and armor, and I’ll be fighting with Enteng’s cactus familiar. I can win. I can save him for you, too.”
“And I’m helping,” Joey added, keeping his head low.
“Great. So, follow my lead,” Uncle tapped Joey’s shoulder. “Comrade.”
Enang clicked her tongue. “But was that your idea?”
Joey didn’t look back as he followed Uncle’s lead. “I have to keep those who trusted me happy.”
Enang found the strength to stand up. She had something to do, too, so she had to watch. She put up a helpless grin. They’re the shittiest people to be with. That old man was borderline insane. The boy that patted her head considers himself to be blessed by the Gods. And the most normal person she had met yet wants to suck off every person that gave him compliments. She didn’t have to lie this time, though. She didn’t want them to die.
“So, what song do you want me to play?”
“Easy,” Uncle brandished his weapons and signaled one of the boys to open the door. “Holding out for a Hero.”