Death to the Fight
Winds lashed against Jimmy and his classmates as they attempted to trek across the upper walkway of Wankebury Boys’ High.
“Screw this,” said Trent, pulling his blazer collar up to his ears. “We just handed in three assessment folios. Who cares about the double period of English?!”
“Yeah, let’s all go to Zone Out.” – “I wanna make the Shiken 4 leaderboard.” – “We can’t just all wag double English.” – “What’re they gonna do, expel the whole class?!”
Jimmy sighed. “Better not.”
Trent raised an eyebrow. “What kind of Asian says No to beat’em-up games?”
All eyes were on Jimmy… “Fine. Let’s go. But someone tell Miss Hakawa first. She’s pretty cool but she’ll be livid if she had to sit there alone, wondering where we are.”
“I’ll tell her,” said Trent.
Everyone else nodded, then turned around, the wind now helping them sail away from class. As for Trent, he struggled against the gale for a few feet… but then reverted to CBF-mode.
Back, forward, forward, punch, kick…
It was like happy hour. Except it wasn’t. None of the arcades were on free-play but Jimmy didn’t give a crap. Instead, he had to give a dollar per game. But it was warm in here and it was all about Shiken 4 now. In between rounds, Jimmy glanced about the place to witness the regular exclamations. It seemed his cohorts were being thrashed in Shiken by some tall guy in a black, hooded robe. This weirdo was mostly playing Shiken; occasionally, he played Campus of the Dead. Using both pistols. And doing stupid kung-fu moves with them.
Back, quarter-circle, quarter-circle—
Damn. Defeated again by the Big Boss’s conveniently well-timed Ultra Attack. Trent and a few spectators had now gathered around Jimmy. Either way, the third and deciding round began and Jimmy was finally winning when the game froze.
“A NEW CHALLENGER COMES!” flashed across the screen.
Trent shook his head. “Dude, stop challenging people when they’re about to clock it. That’s like the sixth time now.”
A skull in a black hood peered from behind the opposite machine. “But these machines are linked so no challenges may be refused.”
Sour glances were exchanged. The weirdo was right.
“Kick his butt, Jimmy!” shouted the fat kid.
“ROUND 1: FIGHT!” bellowed the Shiken announcer.
And Jimmy was demolished in thirteen seconds. He had landed one punch.
The second round was even more pathetic.
The machine declared the obvious: “YOU LOSE!” Evidently, this challenger in black didn’t believe in the etiquette of “mercy rounds”.
There was a snigger. “If any of you win a round against me – a mere round, not necessarily a match – then I won’t tell on you boys. I will even give a prize.”
“Smartass,” Trent muttered.
Death poked out his skull from behind his machine. Everyone flinched, except for Jimmy who inserted a coin.
“But I’m not giving out lolly bags. People may think I am a pervert.”
Jimmy was about to select a character when there was an icy gust. All heads turned. The automatic glass door had slid open. At the threshold stood a short, petite figure.
Miss Hakawa. Shit.
She stepped inside and squinted. “You little runts!”
The fat kid raised his hand. “Hakawa-sensei, Trent was going—”
“Don’t address me in Japanese when I’m speaking to you as your English teacher, baka! We are leaving!”
“Ah, the champion. You’re not going until I am satisfied. And these wretches don’t wish to leave anyway.”
She turned to face Death… “You.”
Shrugs went around. Jimmy read the Shiken leaderboard on the wall: 1. HAKAWA 2. DE4TH… then he was shoved aside by an elbow.
Jimmy regained his balance to see Miss Hakawa’s hands working the controls with ineffable fury. Even the machines threatened to topple.
Two pixel-widths of health remained when Miss Hakawa issued the match-winner: a cheap kick to the shins.
Death strode up to her and extended his calciferous hand, holding a small bag. “Well played, Hakawa-san. Here’s a bag of tokens for free funerals. With no expiry dates. But we play another match. Now.”
Miss Hakawa knitted her brow. “I need to be at work and these boys need to be in class.”
“Forget these wanking scamps. Shiken 4 is more important.”
Trent clenched his fists. “Hey, you’re good but no need for insults.”
Before Jimmy could stop him, Trent had launched himself at Death. The sound of breaking glass followed when Death hurled Trent headfirst into the screen of Dance Cemetery X.
“Unlike you knaves, what I can do with a game character, I can also do with my body.”
Jimmy was about to attempt something diplomatic when Miss Hakawa initiated a flying elbow, flooring him along the way.
Despite the fat kid trampling on him whilst hurtling towards the action, Jimmy saw Death tear a pistol from Campus of the Dead, snapping its cord, and began pistol-whipping. Miss Hakawa then grabbed the other pistol, smacking everyone within reach.
Thuds, swearing and Death’s chuckling filled Jimmy’s ears as he was blacking out… but, even then, he decided that this was way better than school.