Otomaho: Who Said an Adult Can No Longer Be a Magical Girl?!
*BEEP* *BEEP* *BEEP*
The last of the items were finally scanned and then laid into the bag with a speed that was fast enough to keep the cashier from being reprimanded for their laziness, but not so fast that the customer would accuse them of being too rough with the merchandise.
“That’ll be $128.37!” The cashier replied, trying to emote with her voice since she could no longer bother with plastering a fake smile on her face. Knowing her luck that wouldn’t be enough though.
“Jeez, the prices just keep going up, don’t they?”
She knew they hadn’t gone up, this guy had just purchased more than he’d needed. But she needed to engage with his rhetorical question, or risk a possible complaint.
“That they do,” she forced out, her head dropping down to hide her face.
The man patted around for his wallet, and she had to suppress a groan, knowing the next words out of his mouth before he even said them.
“Is your wallet in your car?” she asked, trying to rush things along.
“Silly me, I’ll go get it,” he replied.
“Alright, I’ll just print out a receipt and you can pay for it upfront.”
“Oh, don’t worry about that, it’ll be just a minute.”
She already knew that wasn’t the case, but it’s not like she was allowed to argue back. The man left, and predictably at least 3 people asked if this line was open, heard it wasn’t, and then lined up anyway because the other aisles also had other customers ahead of them.
Thankfully, after a physically short, but mentally gruelling 5 minutes, the man returned and was actually quick to chip his card to pay for it. With a final beep from the credit card machine, the receipt printed out, and she handed it to the customer.
“Thank you for shopping at Mall Mart, have a good day!” the words slid out of her mouth like she was eating syrup in reverse, and with those sticky words it took another piece of her soul alongside it.
“And thank you for your patience as well Karen!”
“It’s Karin,” Karin replied dryly, before inwardly cursing at herself for this.
“Are you sure? Your name tag says Karen.”
‘I’m pretty sure I know my own name better than a nametag, thank you very much!’ Karin seethed inwardly.
But outwardly, she could only utter out a simple, “it’s a misprint.”
The customer left without a response; Karin already knew what was coming. Still, she did her best to get through the remaining 30 minutes of her shift and the line of customers that had formed due to the customer’s forgetfulness.
The last customer being sent off, her aisle finally clear, it was just in time for her to leave. She reached the punch out station, letting herself feel a moment of hope as she clocked out. Though those hopes were immediately dashed as the door opened, and she was met with her manager’s voice.
“We need to discuss a complaint we received regarding your behavior today Karin. Also, no need to clock back in, this’ll be just a minute.”
Karin sighed, resigned to her fate.
It was not a simple minute like he had promised, and Karin was now having to fly through traffic 10 miles over the speed limit while changing her clothes at the same time if she had any hopes of being punctual for her next event.
Pulling up to the building lot, Karin parked at the back of the parking lot, knowing it’d be faster to run than look for a closer parking spot.
Thankfully Karin was in decent shape, so she didn’t feel winded in the slightest when she arrived at the front door. Though she certainly didn’t make a good impression on the people staring at her as she barged in.
She was quick to recollect herself, grabbing a button from the kiosk, and then blended into the crowd that waited patiently for the event to begin. She could only hope they wouldn’t see her again at the event. The lights dimmed slightly, as a spotlight came onto the stage before them.
“Hello everybody, welcome to Cupid Speed Dating, where your love is just an arrow’s shot away!”
The announcer paused for an audience laugh, only receiving a light chuckle, but didn’t seem discouraged in the slightest.
“Tough crowd! I know you’re just raring to go at it, but we have to review a few rules before we start, just to ensure the process goes forward swiftly and cleanly, like Cupid’s arrow.”
The rules ended up being rather simple, certainly not worthy of having a failed comic stand-up announce them to everyone.
Rule 1: You get 5 minutes per suitor.
Rule 2: You must fill out the form for each potential suitor you meet.
Rule 3: Don’t be a creep.
Karin couldn’t help but think they could’ve just posted them on a board for everyone to see instead of subjecting them to Mr. Stand-Up Comic who felt the need to drag out every single explanation for bits that barely qualified as jokes. Someone who couldn’t make it in the world of comedy and resorted to coming to this place to subject people to his lackluster jokes.
Though who was she to talk? This was a place filled with ‘losers’ like her who failed to find love the ‘normal’ way. Maybe whoever hosted this event felt like they had to make sure there was no potential for misunderstanding.
Thankfully, Mr. Stand-Up Comic finally left the stage, and the event began. The women were directed to seat themselves at the spots designated by their tags, while the men with the same numbers would start in the same position as them, but be expected to rotate to the following sequentially numbered table after each turn. The event was slated to last for about 3 hours, with a total of 25 suitors for each side. The remaining time would then be allotted for free discussion and the results would be emailed or texted to them a day after the event.
Karin was ready to meet her match.
Unfortunately Karin’s match didn’t appear to be at this event.
Between a dozen guys who stumbled through small talk about their hobbies, a half dozen who were treating this like an interview where they needed to prove they were qualified to date, and the few who were fine, but just left too little of an impression for Karin to feel interested, she hadn’t scored anyone higher than a 6 on her compatibility chart.
Maybe she was blaming them too much, it’s not like she could honestly say she was doing much better. Especially with the most recent suitor.
“So, it says here you like to exercise routinely. What do you do for that, and would you want your future partner to participate in it with you?”
“Oh, uh, nothing much, just some light weight lifting and cardio in the morning before I head to work to help me unwind,” Karin lied, like a liar.
Though what was she expected to do? Tell them she woke up at 5 AM, prepared breakfast with her left arm while she lifted weights with her right, then ate breakfast with her right arm so she could lift weights with her left. Proceeded to do push-ups, crunches, and some reps on her punching bag while she watched some morning anime. Then did squats in the bathroom while doing her morning maintenance for the day. Only to end it all with a 5 mile jog all the way to work (unless she needed her car, as she did today).
Karin realized she also forgot about the second half of his question in her worries. “Oh, uh, and I wouldn’t need them to participate or anything. We all have our own interests and such, just as long as they’re a decent guy.”
She couldn’t help but sigh inwardly at that. Was she going to really settle for just a decent guy?
“No worries, I feel the same. Though I probably could use the motivation to exercise, so I’ll keep you in mind,” he said with a wink as the timer called for the partners to switch.
Karin couldn’t help but have a light giggle at that show of confidence, marking him down his score as a 7 on the compatibility chart. He was on track to be the highest score she gave this night unless the last two guys had something more to offer. Though the fact she couldn’t seem to remember his name suggested that even he probably wouldn’t work out so well.
“Hi, my name’s Calice,” she heard her new partner say, his hand right in view of her periphery.
Karin snapped out of her thoughts, place her hand in his, and tried to respond in a way that wouldn’t make it look like she’d been ignoring him, “oh, that’s an interesting name, I have a frie-” Karin trailed off as her eyes met with Calice, said friend who currently had a grin plastered on his face.
“Oh, do please go on about your friend, they sound quite interesting,” he said with a light kiss to her palm.
Bright red embarrassment welled up inside her; Karin’s body instinctually scooted back into her chair, attempting to flee the situation.The screech of her chair caused several to look in her direction. Karin stopped dead in her tracks, not wanting to invite further attention upon herself.
With a light ‘sorry’ she returned her chair back to its original position.
Calice looked at Karin with an amused expression.
“What are you doing here?” Karin hissed.
“Why mademoiselle, isn’t it obvious, I’m trying to find a nice date.”
“Don’t you already have Roxy?” She asked.
“I love Roxy, truly I do, but my heart belongs to all women across the globe, and tonight is but another quest to share it with them all,” he said with a light flourish of his hands from his chest.
He was still the same Calice from before. Just even more confident and self assured. Not that she hated that.
“You know, I’m surprised they let you join the men’s side, it’s not like you are one,” teased Karin.
“Surely you jest! While it may be true I do not consider myself a man, as a prince, I’m more capable than any self-proclaimed man here at fulfilling such a role for a fair maiden. Surely you cannot disagree?”
Karin honestly couldn’t, if it was anyone but Calice speaking to her, they would've gotten an easy 9, but Karin could only circle the question mark rating on her compatibility sheet.
“I see,” he said with the slightest bit of disappointment present upon his lips, “still, I hope we might talk sometime and catch up on things.”
“I’d like that,” Karin replied as the bell rang, signaling they should again switch partners.
“Hey babe, you wanna blow this place?” Her last suitor asked right from the start.
Karin suppressed a sigh, not wanting to be rude, but she already knew this wasn’t going to be a fun time.
“Everyone here’s been kinda lame, so willing to bet it all on the chance that you’re the only cool one here,” he said as he spun his keys around one finger, “why don’t you ride on my lap and I can show you how fast my sports car can go, I’ll even let you handle shifting the gears, both of them if you catch my drift.”
“As fun as reckless driving sounds, I think I’m going to have to pass on what you’re offering,” Karin replied while trying not to roll her eyes.
“Ah, don’t be like that, this is the one chance you’re probably going to get to be with a rich dude who can afford whatever you need.”
“Does it make you feel good?” Karin asked.
“What, driving? Of course, the open roa-”
“No, I mean does it feel good to lie like this?” Karin asked.
The guy sputtered air, “you clearly don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“I don’t know any rich people, but I don’t think they’re the type to have ‘rental’ printed on their car keys.”
His eyes widened, clearly shocked at having been caught in the lamest way imaginable.
“Hey, hey, I can explain that,” he started.
“You know, everyone here has fibbed a little, I could tell, but that's fine. It’s normal, we all want to make ourselves look a little better to others, to feel a little better about ourselves, and I’m fine with that. What I’m not fine with is people like you who think they con their way into a woman’s heart or her pants. Even if you were telling the truth though, your gross attitude shows how little you care for other people as people, and not objects. So why don’t you do us all a favor and leave this place?”
Karin saw his false confidence waver, and through her rant she could see his body tense, trying to get in a word edgewise, but she would not allow it as her words spilled from her mouth without pause. To be on the end of such a verbal assault, even if justified, she knew there were only two responses. To say nothing and give up, or…
The table slam could be heard throughout the entire auditorium. Everyone's eyes focused on Karin lifting the man with one hand by his faux leather jacket, ready to pummel his face clean in with the other. His smarming face finally revealing a true emotion of fear as his limbs tensed up so tightly they didn’t even dangle beneath him.
Blackness had covered the edge of her eyes, and she felt a pain in her chest. She truly hated this man, she wanted to see him get what he had coming. Though the stares boring into her from everyone surrounding them snapped her out of it. He wasn’t worth it.
Karin dropped him to the ground, and his legs crumpled up beneath him as he tried to hide the tears in his eyes.
“Apologies to everyone, I’ll be taking my leave now,” Karin said as she ran out the door into the night. She had let her emotions get the better of her again. She needed to run to unwind.
“Stupid, stupid, stupid!” Karin slammed her head into her fists curled up on the brick wall. In her rush out she had forgotten her car in the parking lot. She had already run 2 miles away from the matchmaking event, and she really didn’t want to return to that place and risk everyone seeing her again. Especially Calice.
She just wanted to be forgotten about.
She’d have to run over there in the morning, and then drive from there to her work; she was sure she could make it if she cut her morning routine a bit short.
Looking up, she was confronted by a sight that was making a hard night worse. Two guys surrounding a lady
“Hey, what’s a pretty lady like you doing out here? This is a dangerous place, someone might take advantage of you,” she heard one of the guys say as she pounded one fist into the other.
“Yeah, someone might take your purse, why don’t we protect you until you get to your home? We only request a small fee?” The other said, Karin feeling glad she might get some stress relief tonight.
The woman they were harassing started to walk faster, but they cornered her from both sides.
“Come on lady, don’t be rude, we’re just trying to protec-” with a quick thwack to the side of the jaw the man fell to the ground. Karin made sure to catch him before his face smacked into the pavement. She didn’t want to get too carried away.
“Why don’t you two just protect people from yourselves by not interacting with them?”
The other man’s eyes shot wide open upon seeing his friend's unconscious body held up by Karin’s one arm, the other quite clearly ready to punch him square in the jaw.
“You wanna test your luck?” Karin asked.
“You- you’ll regret this!” he yelled as he ran off.
“I sincerely doubt I will,” she replied, letting the guy she held up finally fall to the ground before turning to the woman. “Are you okay?”
“Thanks for your help, and I’m fine. I had some pepper spray in my purse, but wasn’t sure if I could get them both with it,” she said with a smile. It was a genuine smile that Karin hadn’t seen in a long time, and hadn’t been the cause of for even longer.
“I’m sure you could’ve handled those two numbskulls. They probably would’ve ran off when they got the slightest whiff of that stuff. I just thought I might save you the trouble of it.”
“Thanks, here’s hoping no more of them try anything funny tonight.”
She walked to the street corner, and Karin waved her off, but it seemed like someone didn’t know when to quit.
“Yoink!” The woman’s purse was ripped from her hands by the guy who ran off, this time on a motorcycle. The force knocked the woman back onto her butt.
“Told you you’d regret it!”
Karin immediately rushed up to the woman, pulling her back to her feet to make sure she was okay.
“My mother's ring is in there!”
Karin dashed off before the woman had even finished her sentence, hoping to catch the guy at the red light. Just her luck though, the guy turned around and saw her giving chase. Seeing the look in her eyes scared him something fierce as he floored the accelerator and ran the red light.
Karin was in the best shape of her life, but there was no way she was going to catch up to a speeding motorcycle that wasn’t stopping for anything.
“This night just keeps chucking bricks at my head, I’m tired of this!”
She could feel her anger well up, the black spots forming around her eyes. She needed to stay calm, but she didn’t want to in the slightest.
It had been a long time since she’d done this, but it was the only way she was going to sleep soundly tonight.
Chuck had the stupidest grin on his face. He and David had only planned to take $50 from the lady, but now he’d taken all of her money plus some extra valuables for himself.
“Sucks to be you David!”
Looking behind him, he saw no signs of the lady that glared daggers into him, and caused him to make a ‘tactical retreat’. Despite his reckless driving, none of the cops saw it, so he was scott-free now. He pulled up the red light, making sure to stop before the crosswalk.
“I’m gonna be eating good tonight. Some place where the stars can be seen without issue.”
“I’ll go ahead and take you there then! My treat!”
Chuck looked around, not able to tell where that voice had come from, before looking up to see some kind of missile heading straight down at him.
It came crashing down on the front of his bike with enough force that it crumpled beneath it without any resistance, causing the backside to whip up like the opposite end of a teeter totter. Chuck went flying through the air without a helmet. His face ready to be smashed right into a building wall. He closed his eyes and attempted to bring his arms up to shield his face, but felt a sudden jerk that shook his limbs limp.
For a second, he thought he was dead, but then he slowly opened his eyes, seeing the floor beneath him. He started to laugh uncontrollably, as he rolled along the ground, eventually passing out. The fear of death and relief at being alive too much for him to handle.
Karin snatched the guy up in a fireman’s carry. She thought he’d probably want to be with his buddy when the police arrived. While she would’ve been fine doing so regularly, she couldn’t help but notice how insignificant his weight was when she was like this.
It made sense, she hadn’t been like this since she was 16, decked out in her Heaven's Chains, its red armor shining bright by the moonlight. It was all still here, the armored chest that trailed out into a skirt, the comfortable fingerless gloves, the stockings, and her spiked battle heels. She was surprised the thing even still fit, though maybe she shouldn’t be so shocked, it was magic after all.
She had been so scared to use this form again, and now, standing up here overlooking the city, she wasn’t even sure why she felt that way in the first place. This was the best she’d felt in years. Maybe it was time for Magical Aka to make her return?