Chapter 5:

Chapter 5

Bike Hero Volume 1

As I was following Twinkle, I didn't know what I had gotten myself into.
Bookmark here

But I had to find a way to punish the culprit who tried to brainwash me.Bookmark here

And that culprit could be either the Doctor or Kingpin.Bookmark here

Well, I didn't know yet.Bookmark here

As we reached our destination, I couldn't believe my eyes.Bookmark here

What I saw was a small dirty shack, combined with broken windows and holes.Bookmark here

Not only that, it was a few blocks away from the junkyard.Bookmark here

Of course, the shack wasn't that small.Bookmark here

I thought it would be the size of a shotgun house.Bookmark here

But I proved myself wrong.Bookmark here

Twinkle stretched her arms and said: "Here we are, George. Our sweet home!"Bookmark here

How could she live in a place like that?Bookmark here

I said: "Our sweet home? Is that where you live, Twinkle? But it's untidy and unrenovated."Bookmark here

She just closed her eyes and smiled at me: "You'll be fine, George. I'm used to living in poor housing, and it won't be long until I find a new home. You have to deal with it. Am I right?"Bookmark here

I doubted it.Bookmark here

I might get sick behind it if I lived in the shack for too long.Bookmark here

But Twinkle was right, and I might as well deal with it.Bookmark here

I said: "Oh well, I don't blame you."Bookmark here

I needed a place to stay, after all.Bookmark here

I had been living in motels since I couldn't return to my paternal grandparent's house.Bookmark here

But my expenses weren't keeping me satisfied to become a long-term thing, leaving me homeless.Bookmark here

But I was finally able to find a permanent home after five years.Bookmark here

Because of this, I appreciated her generosity if it wasn't for something different.Bookmark here

Twinkle extended her right arm toward the shack and said: "Shall we head in?"Bookmark here

I just nodded, being silent.Bookmark here

We headed into the shack, letting out a loud creak once we entered it.Bookmark here

It spooked me a little but not for Twinkle.Bookmark here

I surveyed my surroundings.Bookmark here

The interior of the shack was dark, but it had some light in it.Bookmark here

That was when I saw a lit lamp.Bookmark here

There were only two windows with glass, and the floor was covered in dirt and wood.Bookmark here

What was that smell?Bookmark here

The scent was so horrendous that I almost puked!Bookmark here

I covered my nose to lessen the stench.Bookmark here

However, it didn't help.Bookmark here

I then felt someone touching my shoulder; it was Twinkle.Bookmark here

She smiled at me.Bookmark here

Thankfully, she was holding a perfume in her hand: "Don't worry, that'll get rid of the odor."Bookmark here

There, she sprayed everywhere.Bookmark here

I sighed in relief.Bookmark here

The stench cleared up, and I could smell the scent appearing.Bookmark here

However, my eyes burned a little from the perfume, and I coughed a little.Bookmark here

Twinkle asked me: "Are you okay, George?"Bookmark here

I replied: "Uh, yeah, I'm fine. The perfume seems to be affecting me, but I'm feeling fine. You don't have to worry about me."Bookmark here

Twinkle nodded: "Whatever you say."Bookmark here

I surveyed my surroundings further.Bookmark here

Was this supposed to be a living room or Twinkle's room?Bookmark here

Because I didn't find any other rooms, including the bathroom.Bookmark here

I would refer to it as the living room then.Bookmark here

Anyway, it was piled with junk, not having been cleaned in a while.Bookmark here

Wasn't Twinkle a girl?Bookmark here

Then why would a girl be living in this condition?Bookmark here

Oh well.Bookmark here

I wasn't going to brag about it anyway.Bookmark here

I wanted to criticize Twinkle for not taking care of her home, but I couldn't.Bookmark here

I couldn't because I didn't want to make her feel bad about herself.Bookmark here

But who knows?Bookmark here

There, I saw a laptop was being placed on top of a wooden desk.Bookmark here

The desk was dusty but not the laptop.Bookmark here

Speaking of which, how was she getting internet and power just from living in a shack?Bookmark here

I asked: "Say, how are you getting internet and power just from living here? I saw that laptop of yours, and I'm curious to know."Bookmark here

Twinkle snapped her fingers from realization regarding my question: "Oh yeah, the power is coming from the generator outside behind the shack, which is where it is being plugged into. As for the internet, I'm using a wireless one which is why you don't see the router somewhere. However, the generator isn't well maintained, so there will be some difficulties when it comes to it."Bookmark here

Well, that explained everything.Bookmark here

It all made sense now.Bookmark here

I said: "I see."Bookmark here

I thought at first it wouldn't be possible for a person to be without internet and power if they had the necessities in hand.Bookmark here

But where was the refrigerator?Bookmark here

I didn't see one around here at all.Bookmark here

I asked: "Where is the refrigerator? I can't seem to find it anywhere. Do you even own a refrigerator?"Bookmark here

Twinkle replied: "It's outside, standing in the grass. It is also connected to the generator. Are you hungry?"Bookmark here

I nodded and said: "Nope. I'm just asking."Bookmark here

A refrigerator standing outside?Bookmark here

How strange.Bookmark here

But I couldn't care much anyway.Bookmark here

I noticed two sleeping bags lying on the ground in the left corner of the room.Bookmark here

Twinkle saw me staring at them and said: "Oh, those sleeping bags? They're meant to be slept on since I couldn't afford regular beds, and I'm taking on a low-budget route. The other one is reserved for someone important, which is you, George. Feel free to rest whenever you like. Well, not at a time like this. Are you tired?"Bookmark here

I examined the sleeping bags further, getting close to them for a better look.Bookmark here

What I saw was horrifying.Bookmark here

The sleeping bags were covered in dirt and tears.Bookmark here

To my shock, it was even crawling with roaches!Bookmark here

Once again, I almost puked from the sight of it.Bookmark here

It seemed like I wouldn't be sleeping in them, let alone not even bothering to take a rest.Bookmark here

Also, how did she not remark this?Bookmark here

Please give me a break for once.Bookmark here

I declined that option: "Uh, I think I'll pass. I appreciate the kind offer, though."Bookmark here

She just nodded to my understanding, not saying a word.Bookmark here

That was everything I saw in the shack.Bookmark here

From what I knew, it was unpleasant to live in.Bookmark here

Especially for a person who didn't reconsider their financial troubles.Bookmark here

I thought of a way to keep the conversation going.Bookmark here

I asked: "So, uh, is this where you live?"Bookmark here

Twinkle nodded and beamed: "Yep. It might not look great, but it will do until things go in a positive direction. Right now, I'm struggling with finance since I don't have a job yet. Well, the FBI hasn't granted my freedom yet, so that's a reason for it. Anyway, feel free to make yourself at home, George."Bookmark here

Then, another important question came into my mind.Bookmark here

I wanted to ask her about the Doctor, the one who kidnapped me five years ago.Bookmark here

I saw it as an opportunity to ask her this.Bookmark here

So I said: "So, uh, about that doctor. Was he the one who kidnapped me years ago? Who was he exactly?"Bookmark here

Twinkle groaned and crossed her arms, recollecting her thoughts before she explained it to me about it: "The Doctor who kidnapped you five years ago? That doctor goes by the name of Freddy, Kingpin's most trusted assistant and a former doctor of medicine and scientist. His surname is classified, so I don't know because the FBI didn't provide me with it. He uses his medical and scientific skills to brainwash people into joining the Echo Brotherhood. You're lucky that you didn't get brainwashed by him. We need to put a stop to this, George. That's who he is."Bookmark here

I inclined: "I see. Is that so?"Bookmark here

So the one who kidnapped me was Freddy, huh?Bookmark here

How unexpected.Bookmark here

Finally, I could barely find the answer to this mystery.Bookmark here

But it wasn't enough.Bookmark here

I wanted to know more about the purpose of the Echo Brotherhood pursuing me.Bookmark here

Sure, they wanted to capture me to brainwash me along with the others, but what for?Bookmark here

It just wasn't enough to solve this mystery.Bookmark here

I wanted more proof than that!Bookmark here

Twinkle rubbed her chin to cogitate, and I could hear her whisper: "Unless..."Bookmark here

Unless?Bookmark here

I said: "Unless what?"Bookmark here

She replied: "Unless Freddy might work for someone else and not Kingpin. The FBI told me that working for his raison d'être and not someone else might be a different case scenario, but I wouldn't guarantee it if it is. We have to find out for ourselves if we want answers. Besides, the Echo Brotherhood is a somewhat mysterious organization, and my job is to protect you, George."Bookmark here

Now she could speak a little bit of French?Bookmark here

How priceless.Bookmark here

But I didn't forget that she could also speak Spanish.Bookmark here

But if Freddy had a deep connection with Kingpin, could it make a difference?Bookmark here

Maybe but it could be possible.Bookmark here

So Freddy was the one who ordered the kidnapping of me five years ago.Bookmark here

That culprit!Bookmark here

I would never forgive him for this!Bookmark here

No, it wasn't the right time for me to feel enraged.Bookmark here

Pull yourself together, George.Bookmark here

Someday, I would have my revenge for good.Bookmark here

Twinkle pointed at the Jade Belt that I was wearing, speaking about it: "That green belt of yours will make a difference, George. Haven't you been brainwashed, you could've been in bad shape if you were to pledge allegiance to the Echo Brotherhood. You're a lucky guy for sure. However, you still have a long way to go if you want to prove yourself a capable hero. No, a superhero, I mean. That thing could be the key to getting your revenge, so to speak. Just try not to go overboard with it for your gain. You just might turn yourself into a villain instead."Bookmark here

Of course, I was going to be a superhero.Bookmark here

But I hadn't done anything heroic yet.Bookmark here

It seemed like I was destined to be a superhero after all.Bookmark here

I glanced at my belt, feeling astonished by it: "Making a difference, huh? I see."Bookmark here

What Twinkle said might be true.Bookmark here

If I could make a difference, what would it be?Bookmark here

I wasn't sure about it.Bookmark here

And besides, I wasn't quite the luckiest guy ever, so I disagree with her statement.Bookmark here

She tilted her head a little, expressing curiosity about my belt: "Come to think of it, I don't think you necessarily have to wear it all the time. Are you gonna take it off, or are you just comfortable wearing it? When will you take it off?"Bookmark here

Did she ask me to take my belt off?Bookmark here

Oh right.Bookmark here

As I said before, I couldn't take my belt off because it was wrapped tightly around my waist, making it difficult to remove it.Bookmark here

No, I wouldn't.Bookmark here

I wouldn't because removing it could be a bad idea.Bookmark here

I wanted to wear it so I could be a superhero forever.Bookmark here

I didn't know why but that was what I thought.Bookmark here

So I made an excuse: "Uh, actually, I can't seem to remove it because it's wrapped tightly around my waist for some reason. Like, I literally can't remove it completely. It would be nice if I could take it off once in a while. But I just can't."Bookmark here

Twinkle squinted her eyes, coming to realize from my explanation: "That's strange. I heard that some who wear them could remove them while others can't. You're one of the unfortunate few, it seems."Bookmark here

Was I one of the unfortunate few?Bookmark here

How surprising.Bookmark here

So was she saying that it was rare for the Jade Belt to be removed?Bookmark here

That couldn't be!Bookmark here

So it was impossible.Bookmark here

I said: "I see. That explains it."Bookmark here

She grinned: "But don't worry, it'll be removed in no time as soon as we catch these criminals and bring them to justice! Perhaps a key or something should do the trick. Otherwise, we're yet to find answers to this mess. Freddy sure did put that belt on you tightly."Bookmark here

Yeah, I could remember Freddy putting the Jade Belt on me.Bookmark here

I could vividly remember it.Bookmark here

Before I knew it, Twinkle placed her hand on my shoulder: "George, there's something I want to show you. Follow me."Bookmark here

I had to follow her somewhere again?Bookmark here

I guess I had to.Bookmark here

I nodded, going along with it.Bookmark here

But before we could go somewhere, I saw her suddenly stopping.Bookmark here

Then, I heard her coughing and wheezing.Bookmark here

She clutched her chest, slanting down and gasping for air.Bookmark here

Was she suffering from asthma?Bookmark here

I could recognize it from the sound of it.Bookmark here

I said: "Are you okay, Twinkle? You don't look so good."Bookmark here

She held up her hand with her finger pointing up, pulling out an inhaler from her pocket and then putting it on her mouth to use it.Bookmark here

She needed a moment for herself.Bookmark here

At last, she spoke: "I'm fine now. I'm sorry for not telling you this earlier, but I have asthma. I got it recently."Bookmark here

Exactly what I thought.Bookmark here

However, I didn't want to worry about it too much.Bookmark here

I said: "Oh, uh, I see."Bookmark here

Twinkle stood upright, brushing off dirt from her clothes.Bookmark here

She then sighed, assaying to relieve her being distressed.Bookmark here

She held up her hand again, waving as a signal to proceed into following her: "Let's get going, George. There's no time to waste."Bookmark here

I nodded: "Right."Bookmark here

As we left the shack, I followed Twinkle somewhere.Bookmark here

I still had no idea where she was taking me.Bookmark here

It felt like she was taking me somewhere suspicious.Bookmark here

Maybe I said the same thing before?Bookmark here

Who cares?Bookmark here

We arrived at a warehouse filled with crates, forklifts, and boxes as we were passing by.Bookmark here

The warehouse's size was equivalent to a football field.Bookmark here

It was a little dark as daytime was still around.Bookmark here

I observed the things around me, seeking clues as to what Twinkle was trying to lead me to.Bookmark here

She pointed at something, looking in that direction.Bookmark here

She said: "It's over there, George."Bookmark here

There, I saw what appeared to be a motorcycle unfolded in the spotlight, albeit in low-grade condition.Bookmark here

It was rufous, had fractured headlights, and had flat tires.Bookmark here

However, it had a tint of black and looked to be straight out of the 1950s or 1960s.Bookmark here

It wasn't like the ones I was familiar with nowadays.Bookmark here

Why would she take me there just to unveil it to me?Bookmark here

Did she want me to ride on it?Bookmark here

I asked: "A motorcycle?"Bookmark here

Twinkle approached the motorcycle, placing her hand on it.Bookmark here

She said: "Say hello to this showpiece! The Yasuda YA-1!"Bookmark here

I see.Bookmark here

The Yasuda YA-1, huh?Bookmark here

How atypical.Bookmark here

Still, I didn't quite understand why she wanted me to ride on that thing, especially when it was in bad shape.Bookmark here

I said: "But it's old-fashioned and rusty. Are you trying to get me to ride it?"Bookmark here

Twinkle crossed her arms and said: "Not yet. I can see that it is rusty, which is why we have to clean it off."Bookmark here

Where did she even find it?Bookmark here

I asked: "Where did you find it?"Bookmark here

She replied: "I found it here. It was being left abandoned for some reason, and I discovered it, so I have decided to reserve it just in case. I'm not sure who the owner was, though. Do you know how to ride a bike, possess a driver's license, or the like? As for me, I don't."Bookmark here

Why did she ask me these kinds of questions all of a sudden?Bookmark here

Did I have one of these requirements to make myself count?Bookmark here

Not exactly.Bookmark here

It had been a while since I rode a bike.Bookmark here

When I was a kid, I remembered stumbling upon an abandoned tricycle, and I would go for a ride, but it wasn't for long.Bookmark here

Instead, I left it behind rather than keeping it.Bookmark here

Maybe I wasn't into bikes that much, let alone a motorcycle.Bookmark here

I didn't own a motorcycle before then, nor did I ride in one.Bookmark here

But when I looked at it, I perceived something special about it.Bookmark here

But why would Twinkle ask me to ride on it if I barely knew how to ride a bike?Bookmark here

Should I lie to her?Bookmark here

I might as well do it.Bookmark here

To boot, I wasn't sure if I could be proficient at riding bikes.Bookmark here

I said: "Uh, of course, I do! I mean, I do have a driver's license, and I owned a bike before. However, it doesn't work anymore."Bookmark here

My lie could be consequential.Bookmark here

But hey, it was worth the risk.Bookmark here

No, let me rephrase that; I felt terrible for lying.Bookmark here

How could I lie to her?Bookmark here

Twinkle said: "I see. It seems like I found what I have been looking for. I can only fix things, so that's why I'm asking you this question. I didn't see you riding a bike in action, so I'm yet to see you do it."Bookmark here

Could she fix things?Bookmark here

I wasn't expecting that.Bookmark here

I was starting to get to know Twinkle better.Bookmark here

Which, from a former loner's standpoint, was an indication of what it meant to grasp between loneliness and finding someone's interest.Bookmark here

I might even learn a thing or two from her.Bookmark here

Figuratively speaking, my heart glowed from the good feeling that I had.Bookmark here

However, I was yet to understand my actions.Bookmark here

Not only that, I had to prove myself by showing Twinkle what it meant to be a better person.Bookmark here

Karma could be detrimental if done incorrectly.Bookmark here

But if done right, it could improve my mindset on life.Bookmark here

I said: "Uh, yeah, I will."Bookmark here

Yeah, I definitely should've lied, but it didn't matter.Bookmark here

Abruptly, Twinkle snapped her fingers, raising her eyebrows in astonishment with a fixed look.Bookmark here

It alarmed me, triggering me to shudder from it.Bookmark here

However, she said: "This gives me an idea!"Bookmark here

An idea?Bookmark here

What idea did she have?Bookmark here

I asked: "Uh, what idea do you have in mind?"Bookmark here

She elucidated: "How about you'll be called Bike Hero! I think it fits perfectly with that aspect, don't you think? That'll be your superhero name from now on! Well, your secret identity, that is. Nobody won't know who you are with unless you prefer to use your real name, which might be at risk of exposing yourself to the public eye and the police. Otherwise, without it, ignoring this suggestion would be a blunder, George."Bookmark here

Bike Hero, huh?Bookmark here

I liked the sound of that.Bookmark here

But did I need a secret identity to protect myself from the public eye?Bookmark here

I mean, it would be awesome if I were to consider having one.Bookmark here

If I said yes, I didn't have to worry about the past coming back to me again, and I would leave everything behind to take care of the rest.Bookmark here

As Twinkle affirmed, if I said no, I would be at risk of exposing my real identity to the public eye, and the criminals we were seeking might discover our location, and our lives would be lost.Bookmark here

With these dilemmas, I struggled to choose either one of these solutions.Bookmark here

But I finally came to a conclusion.Bookmark here

I decided to agree with having a secret identity.Bookmark here

Bike Hero it was.Bookmark here

I said: "Um, you know what, I don't mind being called that. Bike Hero it is. And besides, a superhero needs a secret identity, right?"Bookmark here

Why was I trying to be phlegmatic?Bookmark here

I shouldn't act like this.Bookmark here

My self-esteem wasn't on that level yet.Bookmark here

Well, at least I was trying.Bookmark here

Twinkle hurriedly approached me, staring directly into my eyes with a broad smile: "Really? But it was only a suggestion! You don't have to agree with it!"Bookmark here

I nervously blushed and chortled, scratching my head while eying away from her to avoid eye contact.Bookmark here

I wasn't comfortable with girls getting close to me because I wasn't outright the type of guy to be around, especially for her invading my personal space.Bookmark here

Not only was I not a nerd nor a jock, but I was also just an average guy with no special characteristics surrounding myself.Bookmark here

I replied: "Well, of course, I agree with it. Your idea is just as good as mine even though I haven't made a proposal or suggestion for something different. From what it seems, you are truly a genius. We can surely work some things out if we stick to that idea. So yeah, if everybody wants to call me by that alias, then Bike Hero it is."Bookmark here

Twinkle backed away from me, respecting my personal space.Bookmark here

What was funny was that she blushed from awkwardness as well, looking down and clearing her throat to excuse herself.Bookmark here

Twinkle's true colors were narrowly shown.Bookmark here

Yet, I had much to get to know her more.Bookmark here

She said: "Well, in that case, muy bien. Now, for your first chore, you have to clean off the rust that has been building up on the motorcycle. Thankfully, I can help you with that. But, if you care not to work at all, I will no longer trust you, and you won't get your revenge, being left alone by yourself like you were before. And trust me, you wouldn't want to experience it again, would you? But it's up to you. So are you okay with that, George?"Bookmark here

My first chore?Bookmark here

I had to work already?Bookmark here

Well, that sucked.Bookmark here

But hey, I had to get it over with, right?Bookmark here

There was no use in refusing anyway.Bookmark here

So I had no choice but to do the chore.Bookmark here

I just had to get used to that routine. Bookmark here

Otherwise, I didn't want to experience that dread of loneliness again.Bookmark here

And I aspired to gain a reputation as a hero.Bookmark here

Giving up on myself would be a hassle.Bookmark here

I groaned while trying my best not to come off as costive: "Well, I can't say no to that one. I'll be willing to do the chore no matter what is keeping my spirit down. A hero has to help others, right?"Bookmark here

Twinkle grinned, feeling overjoyed by my acceptance.Bookmark here

If I were to say no, I could've disappointed her, but I didn't.Bookmark here

Instead, I agreed to accept that responsibility and to be seen as an affectionate individual.Bookmark here

Or so it seemed.Bookmark here

Without saying a word, Twinkle tossed me a sponge to clean the motorcycle with.Bookmark here

Just by feeling and squeezing it, it was already filled with soap suds as it was dripping down from my right hand.Bookmark here

I could see her holding a yellow bucket, handing it to me as well as I kindly took it.Bookmark here

It had water in it, which also had a soupy appearance.Bookmark here

Then she spoke: "I'm glad to hear it. Let's get to work then."Bookmark here

I nodded, feeling content with her relying on my troth, which I would evince for that matter.Bookmark here

And from there, that was the moment when Twinkle and I worked together for the first time.Bookmark here

It went very well, and the motorcycle was back in good shape.Bookmark here

That memory would become a part of me, and I would've committed suicide if it wasn't for her.Bookmark here

My depressive mentality was no longer lingering inside me.Bookmark here

I was now mentally satisfied.Bookmark here

My career as a superhero was just the beginning.Bookmark here

Since then, my time at Twinkle's safe house had been salubrious, staying there for the past few weeks.Bookmark here

Until a threat came to our attention...Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.