Chapter 18:

Night Frights

We Are ☆ Star Club!

 Our next meeting was canceled at the very last second. Literally.

Even when we were going up to our club room, there had not been a single cloud in the sky, but once we were all gathered in there, it started to pour down, the rain drumming against the window.

"Okay, I don't even think I have officially start this meeting," sighed Erica, "Did any of you bring an umbrella?"

I shook my head alongside the other girls. She looked out of the window again, where the raindrops sliding down the glass was the only thing I could see against the darkness. She had a worried look on her face, and shook her head.

"Then I suggest we wait for the rain to stop. I don't want any of us to get sick now."

"Uwawawa... the rain's too much..."

Pudding melted on the table, as if she was made out of sugar. Erica sat down next to her and sighed.

"But what do we do in the meantime?" I asked.

We don't know how much longer it will rain... what if it'll rain the whole night long? Urgh, why didn't I check the weather beforehand... Or take an umbrella, just in case... But even with an umbrella, Arisu would be terrified of this much water. No, we simply had to wait. I buried my head between my arms.

"Ah! I know, I know!" Maria's eyes lit up, and a big grin spread across her face. "Let's watch a movie. I'm sure the film club won't mind ."

She winked at us.

"I might've already talked with Minato about this..."

I couldn't hide my grin. Minato was the latest boy she was talking to, and currently in her romanticizing phase. Though this time, instead of him being an athlete, or an artist, or a math genius, they simply seemed to share their taste in movies. Maybe that was for the best. So he wouldn't have a rude awakening when surely, in the future, he'd fail one of Maria's high expectations.

She saw my grin, but only shook her head. Then she stood up, gesturing at us to do the same.

"Come on, now. They have a big, comfy couch and a giant TV."

She opened the door, and a cool gust of wind howled through the room. The light above us flickered, casting weird shadows all across the room. Arisu was staring at something, the way Lulu sometimes did, but I couldn't say what it was. I wouldn't ask, though. My feeble human mind could only take so much.

"Ooooh, spooky! Maybe we should watch a horror movie," she commented.

The smile on her face grew even wider. She seemed to enjoy this. I, on the other hand, felt goosebumps creep up my arms, and it wasn't just because of the temperature drop.

"Are you into horror?" I wondered.

She seemed more like the type to like fluffy rom-coms, but she certainly was more than her first impression made her out to be. I remembered our time ghost hunting. She had enjoyed that too, didn't she? But instead of giving me a clear answer, she put her index finger to her lips, her smile turning mysterious.

"Well, look outside. It's summer, it's cool - what better time to get spooked than now?"

As if the night was agreeing with her, the wind howled through the hallways again.

"Also, it's fun to be scared together. We all got each other, right?"

Hesitantly, I nodded. The others also seemed like they didn't oppose the idea. Finally, Arisu tore away her gaze from the invisible thing on the ceiling and looked at Maria.

"What's a horror?" she asked.

"Oh, you'll see."

Maria smiled a mysterious smile at Arisu, before walking out and down the dark hallway.

"We should follow her," Erica mumbled as Pudding solidified again, "before she gets any other ideas."

She clearly remembered our ghost hunting fiasco, as well.

Maria was right. The film club's room was surprisingly comfy, dominated by the couch and TV in the middle of the room. The shelves on the walls were stacked with movies, new and old. Some of them were DVDs and Blue-rays, others VHS cassettes. Maria walked along the rows and rows of movies, looking for the one she wanted to see. As Pudding got comfortable on the couch, we other girls followed her. Above us, the rain drummed on the roof, and somewhere in the building, the wind continued to howl. I personally didn't need much more horror than this, but Maria clearly had other intentions. I watched her look out for a movie, until finally, her fingers stopped on one of the DVD cases.

"Here! This is not too spooky, but more funny."

She showed us the case.

'Night of the Intergalactic Vampire', it red in a vomit-green, goo-dripping font. On the cover was a vampire depicted, with his fangs bared, as coffin-like UFOs landed on a farm in the background. A cow with bulging, fearful eyes was barreling towards the viewer. It looked both funny and absolutely horrible. I gulped.

"That... sounds... uh, interesting?"

It didn't look scary, just.. weird. Still, I was unsure how to feel about it. Oh well. It wouldn't be that bad. Plus, in good company even a bad movie was enjoyable. I leaned back on the couch.

"Ah, wonderful. Then let's get comfortable."

She put on the movie and sat down next to Arisu. The start of it was pretty innocent, and even made me a little sleepy, but I knew with horror movies like this, it would take a bad turn pretty soon. So, when the big, bad vampire appeared for the first time, draining a farmer and leaving behind some strange goo, it didn't scare me that much. The special effects weren't even that great, but in their own way, charming.

Arisu, on the other hand, had a very different reaction.

"What's that?!"

She let out a shriek, visibly flinching.

"You're kidding, right?"

I looked at her, confused. On her face was a look of pure terror, and it even made me feel a little scared. She wasn't faking it, right? No, that couldn't be.

"That scared you."

I still worded it similar to a question, not wanting to offend her. I couldn't see anything scary in this movie, but that didn't mean that it would be the case for everyone.

"Of course! That's a vampire."

"Uh." I nodded. "Yes."

Maria paused the movie, and held up the DVD case in the cold light of the TV, tapping against the vampire on it.

"You don't know what horror is, but you know vampires?" she asked.

Arisu nodded, seemingly agitated.

"Of course I know vampires!"

She breathed in, struggling with her words. I exchanged a worried look with Maria. This wasn't a fun scare, this was upsetting Arisu, and in turn, upsetting me.

"I... they..."

She took another breath.

"Hey, maybe we should switch the movie. This is supposed to be a fun night."

It was Pudding who leaned forward, the motion capturing my eye. Even in the cold, electronic light she radiated calmness. I couldn't imagine a horror movie that could scare her.

"Ah, you're right. Sorry, I'll look for something different."

Outside, the wind was howling again, making me twitch. I just hoped the rain would stop soon. As I looked around, I was sure that Pudding had the right idea. Nobody seemed to be in the mood for more horror. But at least, Arisu had calmed down, but there was still something working inside of her. I lightly touched her shoulder.

"Hey, are you doing good?"

She looked up at me, and I tried to smile. I didn't like seeing my friend worried like this.

"That's just a movie. It's not real."

She blinked, and looked like she wanted to say something, before she caught herself. Instead, she only mumbled her answer.

"Sure, if you say so... They're not real... here..."

Maria appeared in front of the television again, waving with another DVD case.

"Ah, how about this? It's fun, I know that. Just... nice and fun."

She was right. The rom-com, while mediocre, was entertaining enough that we watched the whole thing, even as it stopped raining halfway through. And afterwards, the night didn't seem scary anymore.