Heroes of the Past
Winter Break 2016 Week 1 Friday
“Tomo, Tomo, Tomo…,” a voice beckoned.
“Please, just let me sleep for a few more minutes,” I groaned, waving my hand at whatever called out to me.
I settled my head back into the pillow after hearing no response. The comfortable feeling of my pillow never failed me. When I next awoke, it was already 11:00 AM.
“Guess that was a dream after all,” I muttered.
This seemed all too familiar, an exact replica of when Tess woke me up. I entered the dining room, expecting her, but no one was there.
“Probably just imagining things,” I said, checking the fridge for food.
I saw a note with my name at the top. Mom asked me to change a light bulb in the living room. Finishing my lunch, I headed toward the garage. I actually thought Tess might show up, standing near Dad’s worktable. It would be like her to just appear in these kind of situations.
However, it was just the same old garage. I searched for ten minutes, finally locating a box containing the spare light bulbs. There was a knock on my front door after completing my assigned task. I peered through the peephole, seeing Tess outside. She had her usual indifferent look, holding a stapled packet of papers.
“At least she’s coming in normally this time,” I said with relief.
Tess walked inside, looking around as if searching for something. Her eyes darting around unsettled me. Her actions resembled that of a thief scoping out a victim’s home for a robbery.
“Something wrong, Tess?” I asked.
“Your house is quite different in the early morning,” Tess finally said.
“So it was you this morning,” I accused her.
`I just arrived. This is my first time speaking with you today,” Tess denied, shaking her head.
“Really? Then who was the person calling out to me?” I wondered.
“That is cause for concern. Are you sure it wasn’t just a dream?” Tess asked.
“I can’t really remember. I was pretty sleepy at that time so it might have been just in my head,” I admitted.
“It appears to be nothing serious but we can investigate it at a later time. But first, Tomo, may I ask a question?” Tess asked, her eyes turning serious.
“Go ahead,” I replied.
“How are you feeling today?” Tess asked.
“Good?” I answered, my voice wavering at the end.
“Tomo, more specifically….are you a 95 and above or 95 and average?” Tess clarified her question, making me more confused than before.
“What does that even suppose to mean? I guess I’m feeling like a 95 and above,” I decided.
“A good attitude to have. It was obvious, however, that you didn’t evoke such confidence when completing the quiz,” Tess remarked, waving the papers in her right hand.
I expected something like this. A bad feeling developed ever since seeing those papers in her hand. Tess was strangely committed to this. Alright, time for the moment of truth. What score did I obtain?
“Tomo Yuki, here is your quiz back. Look at the score,” Tess commanded.
I swallowed hard, accepting the papers from her. I saw a 50 circled in red on the top page. My hands shook, despite it not even being an official test. I suddenly felt overwhelmed with fear, refusing to make eye contact with Tess.
What was happening to me? Summoning enough courage, I finally examined Tess’ face. She maintained her usual calm look, nothing breaking her composure. The only time I saw a different expression was when I attempted a fight with her a few months ago.
“So, now what?” I asked, not sure what punishment Tess would hand out.
“Just flip through it and check what you got wrong. The quiz was an indicator for me to test your recollection as well as your level of knowledge. Questions on the exam were selected for maximum difficulty so it’s expected for you to score low. It’s data so I can decide what to teach you,” Tess answered.
I felt relieved after her statement. So Tess wasn’t going to do something weird. I flipped through the quiz and saw many red circles. Guess that meant I got those wrong. There were check pluses and check minuses scattered throughout the pages. What kind of grading system was this?
On the edge of the pages, there were various comments. This wasn’t Tess’ handwriting though. It lacked her beauty and clearness, instead it was choppier with the words slanted to a side.
“Tess, who wrote these comments?” I asked.
“Long did, he wrote a few observations about your answers, as well as the actions you took during the test. I used it to gain an understanding of your behavior and why you wrote down specific answers,” Tess answered.
“Okay, thanks Tess. You’re still here pretty early though. I think you said you would be here around two but its only twelve now,” I asked.
“I was hoping to provide a short introduction to physics, but it appears that will have to wait. Fel requested we arrive early to facilitate the party setup,” Tess revealed.
Of course, she wanted to lecture me, but I was saved by the party. I had reservations about this whole thing, but it was a good chance to have fun and temporarily forget about the whole hero thing.
The black gate of Felicity’s house swung open when the car neared it. Tess drove to the left. I saw a garage in the distance, but also a small parking lot with four cars already present. From my estimates, the parking lot probably fit fifteen cars.
“You’re here! Lifesavers! I just realized how hard it was to set up so I needed a few extra helping hands. Thanks for coming so early,” Felicity greeted us with a brilliant smile.
Felicity wore a grey cashmere sweater with a red Christmas bow tied into the right side of her hair. In addition, I saw two festive looking bangles on her left wrist. She really dressed the part for this party. Leading us inside, Felicity listed out the uncompleted tasks.
“There’s still setting up the table with food, decorating the stairs, cleaning up the area around the Christmas tree, getting the food ready, and cleaning up the guest rooms for people,” Felicity listed, leading us into the main living room.
“Before we continue on, how big is this place?” I asked Felicity, taken aback by the vastness of her residence.
“Four rooms down here, five rooms on the second floor, and three rooms on the third floor. Also the basement and the attic too. But I think we’ll only be using the basement and first floor. It’s the biggest down here after all. If people need to stay for the night, the guest rooms will be available on the second floor,” Felicity answered.
I blinked at her response, still trying to get past the fact that there were twelve rooms in total. Felicity really was well off.
“Hey, Felicity, where are your parents right now?” I asked.
“They’re out right now. Both of them are on a business trip and they won’t be back until let’s see here…two days from now,” Felicity answered, adjusting some of the holiday LED lights strung across the ceiling.
“Fel, where would you like us to be?” Tess asked.
“Oh, Yuki, would you like to help me in the kitchen? I can give you a quick tour while we go there. Tess, do you mind checking the first floor and seeing if everything is set up correctly? If anything’s out of place, you know what to do,” Felicity replied.
“Affirmative,” Tess nodded, walking away.
“Okay, follow me, Yuki. The kitchen is near the stairs to the second floor,” Felicity said.
Felicity pointed out the large living room we passed by. Okay, this was just beyond ridiculous. Her living room was three times the size of mine. It had the following items: six couches, four coffee tables, three recliners, a 60 inch TV on the wall, a home speaker system with expensive looking equipment, a small dining table on the right side with four comfortable dining chairs, and just a crap load of nice looking furniture I could only imagine buying.
She then pointed out the dining room which was rather normal. There was a glass dining table with eight chairs in total. I envisioned a chandelier hanging above the dining table but instead there was just a normal fluorescent light fixture hanging above it.
Felicity pointed out the storage room. In other words, a garage within the house. I peeked inside and as expected, everything was arranged in an orderly fashion.
Finally, we arrived at the kitchen and I could smell food cooking inside. Inside, I saw her little sister staring at a boiling pot.
“Oh, it’s Yuki. How have things been?” Felicity’s little sister asked.
Wait a minute. Since when were we on first name basis? I stared at Felicity’s little sister and then thought about it. It’s not as if I called Felicity by her last name, actually not Tess either.
“Alright, I guess,” I replied.
“Memoria, have you been looking after everything in here carefully? Some of it requires precise timing so tell me if anything looked off while I was gone,” Felicity said.
“It looks all the same to me. Nothing exploded, that’s for sure,” Memoria remarked.
I glanced around the kitchen and once again felt discouraged. Her kitchen was huge. On the right side, there was a large gray fridge. There was a medium sized freezer next to the fridge. Above the freezer, there were seven wooden cabinets. This was not the cheap knock off kind of wood. No, this was legit pure wood that only those with enough money could afford.
In the back, there was a large sink with a marble countertop. On the left, there was the stove. But there was also a grill, another stove, and a bunch of nice looking kitchen equipment I was not familiar with.
“Oh, Yuki! I want you to try something,” Memoria suddenly said.
“What is it?” I asked.
“It’s something I made for the party. I want you to test it and tell me how it is,” Memoira replied.
“Sure,” I agreed.
Memoria opened the fridge and then took out a plate. On it, I saw a jello-like substance that wiggled as she placed it down on the countertop. Felicity glanced at it, a look of surprise on her face.
“I made grass jelly. It’s pretty festive too, filled with sweets,” Memoria explained and placed one on a small paper plate.
I accepted it and then placed it into my mouth. At first, it was pretty good. There was the usual smoothness but then things started going downhill. The sweetness of the grass jelly turned into a sour, nasty taste.
I felt a choking sensation and there was a sharp burn in my throat. I grasped the edge of the countertop and said nothing. In fact, I couldn’t say anything for a minute.
“Yuki, take this,” Felicity ordered, handing me a glass of water and a pill.
I took the pill and then swallowed it down with the water. The terrible taste disappeared from my mouth and I sighed in relief.
“Hmm, something went wrong again, huh?” Memoria said, looking at her older sister.
“Memoria, you should just stick with appetizers. I don’t know why but your desserts are always deadly,” Felicity commented.
“It’s probably because I put some alcohol in it. I did not think it would make that much of a difference,” Memoria nodded her head in understanding.
Felicity shook her head and Memoria looked at the grass jelly with intense focus. I felt a little out of place here. Maybe I should have gone with Tess. It seemed Felicity was doing fine with just her little sister here.
“Yuki, help me prepare this meat. Just pass the ingredients I ask for,” Felicity said, finally asking me for help.
I opened the cupboard and saw an insane amount of different seasonings, sauces, and other condiments. Just what did Felicity do for dinner everyday? I lifted up a bottle of soy sauce and looked at the label. Hmm, it appeared there was a “organic” label on it. Felicity was health conscious too.
“Yuki, hand me the oyster sauce,” Felicity ordered.
I looked inside the cupboard and was confused about which one she wanted. I saw five different bottles of oyster sauce. Picking up a random one, I asked Felicity about it.
“Is this the one you wanted?” I asked, showing her the bottle.
“No, it’s the one with the blue label,” she answered.
I exchanged the one in my hand for the correct bottle. Handing it to Felicity, I watched her dump it into a searing pot. She was cooking chicken breasts and flipped them after a few seconds. Memoria was also cooking something. I hoped that whatever she made, it would be better than my experience.
About an hour later, Felicity told me to look for Tess. Memoria stared into the fridge as I left. I walked past the storage room and saw Tess inside. She stared at a piece of metal and I approached her.
“Tomo, how was the kitchen?” she asked.
“Uh, it was very interesting,” I replied, recalling the taste of the grass jelly.
“It appears that you consumed Memoria’s dessert. I should have warned you. But it’s too late now. Just need to get back up to prime condition, that 95,” Tess advised.
“Damn it, Felicity knew about it and she didn’t tell me,” I muttered.
“I’ll report to Felicity now,” Tess said.
“What were you looking at?” I asked, my eyes drawn to where Tess stood.
“Just a little project Felicity and I did senior year. I’m surprised that she’s still kept it,” Tess answered.
Tess exited the room. I peeked into the room, seeing a machine. Because of the dim light, I couldn’t exactly see the finer details. Oh well, I’m sure that I would see it later. Walking out of the room, I yawned and returned to the kitchen. Tess was standing over the stove, placing seasoning into the frying pan. She had an intense look in her face, one filled with serious focus.
“Yuki, can you go see if anyone’s at the front door?” Felicity requested.
I nodded and walked towards the front door. Opening the door, I saw a silver car outside. Kisai stepped out and then opened his trunk. He took out two cardboard boxes out, placing them on the ground. I decided it would probably be a good idea to help him.
“Kisai, I’ll help you,” I said.
“Oh thanks. Felicity needs some ingredients and supplies and I bought them for her,” Kisai said.
As I carried the box inside, I was curious about its contents. It felt medium in weight, not as heavy as a bag of rice but heavier than a 24 pack of water bottles.
“Hey, what’s inside the box?” I asked.
“Glass bottles of various kinds. Just a mix of different types of drinks,” Kisai replied, heading toward the kitchen.
“Jin, you’re here! Good. I was expecting some of this. I don’t think there’s anything left to do until people get here so you can relax. Memoria and I will finish up here. Start carrying some of the food out,” Felicity ordered.
At six, people started arriving. I didn’t recognize everyone, assuming most people were acquainted with Felicity. I sat down on one of the large couches and stared at the Christmas tree. It was about eight inches high with expensive decorations on it. The lights flashed in a colorful pattern and I was quite impressed by it.
“Tomo, you seem to be impressed,” a voice said.
I turned around and saw Kyoi there. She wore her phoenix hoodie with black jeans. With a knowing smile on her face, she pointed at the Christmas tree.
“A little bit. I didn’t expect you to be here,” I remarked.
“Why wouldn’t I be here? It will be quite an interesting night,” Kyoi said with a smirk and then walked away.
Her statement gave me a bad feeling about things. I stood up from the couch and searched for Felicity. As I passed by the dining room, I saw Jin and another person setting up red plastic cups on the dining table. Alright, it appeared that I would have to brace myself for the night ahead.