Chapter 11:

Call Home

Game Gyaru

It took a while, but Hakuta was starting to fit into living at the Otari residence. Sitting back on the couch like he lived here never felt better. Before, it was like being a guest for a sleepover for him, but now kicking back and playing the Toystation was natural. So that was how he was spending his weekend when Shiuka approached him.

“That looks new.” She commented on him playing something unfamiliar to her. Of course, there were only two she was aware that he own, so since this one didn’t resemble either of those two, it was easy for her to tell this was new. At least for her.

“That’s because I got a great deal on this one.” He bragged, showing off the receipt. There was a nearby store that sold cheap second hand games for those on more of a budget. Therefore, he was able to pick up this title for the low cost of just 500 yen. While it was a game panned by critics and players alike, he was having decent fun with it.

The game was called, ‘God From the Machine’. The gameplay revolved around stealth and sneaking around enemies rather than taking them all on in a gunfight. While the latter was certainly possible, the difficulty of fighting dozens of heavily armed guards meant the former was a much more viable option. Also like the RPG game that he had dedicated many hours on, this one also had dialogue options.

“That sounds incredibly boring.” Shiuka didn’t share his enthusiasm about the game. “Where’s the fun in hiding like a pussy from everyone? Just kill them.”

“I can’t just play games where all I’m doing is mowing down countless lives.” He retorted. “Besides, I am killing people in this game. Only quietly.” He demonstrated this to her by getting a guard to go into an alleyway alone and taking the man out. Then, he hid the body so none of that guy’s allies would be aware of him going missing.

“Just seems like a waste of time when you can just take them all out at the same time.” She vastly overestimated the character’s abilities in this game.

Just as they were talking, the phone rang. It wasn’t just any phone however, this was the special phone she left on the kitchen counter. There were only two people in the entire world who could possibly be wanting to call on this device. So naturally, this got both of them excited over the prospect as they paused the game to answer it.

“Papa!?” Shiuka was quicker to getting there, so she was the one to answer. “I’m so glad to hear you’re okay.” Judging from her response, it was clear to Hakuta their parents were alive and well.

“Go ahead, put it on speaker.” He urged her so he could be a part of this conversation. “Dad, are you all right?”

“Of course I am.” The man replied through the phone. “Why wouldn’t I?” He laughed as if the last time they talked wasn’t concerning at all.

“So, where are you now?” She asked.

“Don’t worry, we made it to the island perfectly fine.” The meaning of the word ‘fine’ depended greatly on who one asked. Though regardless of who they were, they most assuredly would not use the adverb, ‘perfectly’ to modify it. Most people would’ve assumed they got there with little issue thanks to their pilots skillful flying through uncertain skies. However, for these two men, it meant they got on the island. That was it, as they were still hungry, wet, their clothes were torn up, and their pilot was missing.

As if was explained to the teens. They barely made it through the storm, where some lightning hit them a couple times. The engine got killed as a result, so the pilot informed them they’d need to make an emergency landing in the waters. Not feeling this menuver was safe, Kankichi decided they all jump out of the plane with just a couple of parachutes to their name.

“That sure was awkward.” Toukou laughed as he recounted having to share with his friend. “Too bad we’ve got no clue where that pilot went off to.”

“Anyway.” Kankichi returned to the subject at hand. “We’ve got a couple of goals, and it looks like we’ll be stranded here for the foreseeable future.”

“Not a big deal, at least we can chat.” Shiuka seemed unconcerned about the matter, despite only just learning that her father didn’t perish during the storm.

“Actually, the battery in this darn thing is running out.” He informed them he would be unable to call often, if at all in the future. “I’ll preserve it just in case of an emergency, but this will be our last regular call.”

“Aww…” She was more disappointed rather than concerned about the news. “Okay, bye then papa.” Then she bid farewell as if this was a normal separation and not one that could possibly be the last time they’d talk.

“I’ll see you later too, dad.” Hakuta said as the call disconnected. “You know, I don’t like what your dad does for a living.” How could someone who already lost a parent be so fearless in the face of losing another? This was what her life was before he came around? Well, this part hadn’t changed much, other than having someone else who understood the situation.

“He’s always been fine, don’t be such a worrywart over it.” She dismissed his concerns and returned to the couch. “So, how about you keep playing and relax a little.”

“Fine.” Of course, playing a game like this was hardly a relaxing activity. Having to keep an eye on all the guards roaming the field as well as heading towards the objective was stressful. It was even more so when there was someone like Shiuka sitting over his shoulder watching him.

This girl was completely backseat gaming on him. Though that wasn’t the worst of it. That would come from the fact that she was constantly leaning over his shoulder physically. It was distracting because any form of contact would be so, especially when it’s a girl who was wearing an oversized shirt as the only form keeping her decent on the top half.

“What’s wrong?” She said. “You completely missed the guard, and I even pointed at him.” Shiuka complained to him as he simply averted his gaze from her. This girl was totally ignorant of this situation, wasn’t she?

“It’s not my fault you keep distracting.” He countered. “I can see them perfectly fine when you’re not yelling into my ear.”

“Fufufu.” He didn’t like that mischievous giggled she had after he made his statement. Suddenly, in a flash of light, she took his glasses from his face. “So, can you see now?” Shiuka spoke in a mocking manner.

“Of course not.” He responded, trying to take them back from her. This boy was hopeless without his glasses. The world was so blurry to him, he might as well only see darkness without them. “Now give them back.”

“Hmm, just try a little harder.” She laughed, putting on the glasses for her own joy. If he could see her, he would consider her to appear quite cute with some spectacles of her own. However, he was blinder than a bat, so the moment was lost on him. “Now try and catch me.” Shiuka got up and prepared to make this a fun game of cat and mouse. What she wasn’t prepared for was how his prescription completed disorientated her own vision. This caused the girl to immediately trip up on her feet and fall right onto her face.

“Are you all right?” He asked, trying to use his hands to direct himself towards where she fell. Perhaps this was the chance for him to regain his vision, but things were never so simple.

“Uh oh.” Her next words filled him with dread. What she said next only served to upset him greatly. “Um, I kind of broke your glasses.” Gingerly, Shiuka handed the boy back his glasses. The sharp glass and bent frame scratched his skin.

“Well isn’t that great?” He sarcastically spoke as he was handed his now broken pair of spectacles. Without them, there was no way he could see. So the only thing left to do was get them fixed or replaced.

“I’m so sorry.” She was profuse in apologizing. “I promise, I’ll pay for it.”

“That’s great and all.” While he was fine with this, there was another issue they needed to worry more over. “But, I need to get new ones as soon as possible.”

“I think the store should still be open.” She replied, completely missing his point.

“And I can’t go there while I’m blind!” It was possible for her to be the one to pick some up for him. However, as someone who was not a family member, it would likely cause delays that he couldn’t afford to have. Being blind was not fun, and he couldn’t go to school in this state. It had to be today and it had to be him at the store to get quick replacements.

“I can take you there.” That was kind of her to help out. However, this brought about the other problem of them not wanting to be seen in public. If anyone they knew from school saw them, then it would raise questions as to why she was the one helping him get glasses. And seeing that the nearest glasses store was in the mall, the odds were only stacked in their favor for trying to not be seen by any of their classmates.

“What are we supposed to do?” He racked his brain to come up with a possible solution to their dilemma. It was agreed upon they find a way to do this before the end of the day. However, this roadblock made him hesitant on wanting to go through with it.

“I got it!” She snapped her fingers after they sat together, thinking things through. Quickly, the girl rushed into the kitchen. He heard the sounds of pots and pans clattering and banging onto the ground while she was gone. If he could see what was happening, well it would be enough to make him more disappointed with the girl than he ever could’ve imagined.

While he couldn’t see what was going on, Hakuta did hear her running back to him after things quieted down in the kitchen. Her siloette appeared before him, then suddenly, his world went from one of extreme blurriness, to that of near complete darkness.

“Hey, what’s going on?” He asked in a bit of panic. A paper bag had been placed over his head, with what felt like a hold cut out around his mouth for breathing purposes.

“That’s my plan.” She responded to him with unrelenting pride. Shiuka’s grand plan was to put a paper bag over his head. 

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