Fake Geek Girl Adventures 1-6: Bridge to Crystalia

Published April 2, 2016 by immaterialideal

(previous)

“Ready, Stacy?”

“Whenever you are, Tori!”

It was a rainy Friday afternoon, but the Games for Everyone foursome were simply excited for their long video game marathon at Cheryl’s house. The two other girls had their DS systems out, prepared for a long trading session.

“Today’s the day I finally get married,” Stacy exhaled in anticipation.

“Wait, you’re still playing that?” Oliver asked.

“Yeah, what’s your problem?” Stacy snapped.

Oliver shrugged. “You showed me it once. Couldn’t get into it, is all.”

“I’ve never heard of Rune Factory before,” Cheryl added, curious. “What’s this game about?”

“Oh, it’s amazing,” Stacy began. “I mean, you get to farm, cook, fight and tame monsters, make weapons, woo over cute chicks, all in one game!”

“Plus, the guys are total dreamboats,” Tori sighed dreamily.

Cheryl was confused. “Okay, so why are you trading an item back and forth?”

“I need a level 80 Lover Snapper in order to propose to Mei,” Stacy explained.

“Sounds like you’re into the hard-to-get type,” Cheryl remarked.

“Totally,” Stacy said. “Oh, it’s finally done!”

Tori and Cheryl gathered around Stacy’s DS, giddy with anticipation for the marriage, while Oliver just watched from the sidelines, bewildered at how dedicated the girls were. Finally, the Wedding March started playing while Stacy savoured the moment.

“You did it!” Tori cried.

“Congratulations, Stacy!” Cheryl complimented.

Oliver finally cracked a smile. “So, one of your gaming dreams has finally come true.”

“Like catching that Shiny Scyther, right?” Stacy grinned.

Oliver’s smile grew wider, until he started to giggle. “Got me there. Anyway, what was that big plan you had in mind?”

Stacy paused, collecting her thoughts. “I was thinking, we’re a gaming club, right? What if we made our own game?”

Everyone’s eyes widened in excitement. “That would be awesome!” Oliver answered loudly while the others nodded in unison.

Stacy smiled. “Okay, here’s what I had in mind to get us started. You know the Final Fantasy theme, right?” She hummed the recurring motif while everyone listened in awe and anticipation. “Well, it all began with a bridge, leading to a journey like no other. It wasn’t just about saving the princess, no, this quest was even bigger. It was a race to save the world from environmental collapse. And it ended with some time loop shenanigans. That was neat, when I was a kid anyway.”

Everyone nodded as Stacy continued. “That was the original Final Fantasy in a nutshell. Dated, but that’s how RPGs got their start, so we should pay our respects. Our journey too shall begin with a bridge leading to… where should it lead?”

“How about, a vast crystal palace?” Cheryl said.

“You mean like the Emerald City?” Tori added, having her sketchbook out and her pencil ready. “Perhaps we could call it Crystalia?

“Yeah, I like that idea,” Cheryl agreed. “And inside, the citizens would be protecting some hidden power source everyone’s trying to get at.”

“It’d be a lot cooler if Crystalia was some sort of floating fortress,” Oliver added. “Then we could also have sky pirates and airship battles!”

“Not just a fortress, an entire city!” Stacy continued. “Imagine, a lost civilization, tucked away in an impenetrable castle and hidden away from the surface world. Everyone would want in. Researchers, treasure hunters, unsavoury types, you name it.”

“Unsavoury types, eh?” Oliver smiled wickedly while Tori’s hand started quickly moving across her page. “How about we make our lead character a pirate?”

Stacy stared at him, intrigued. “Continue.”

“All right. So Callisto here, he’ll be a master thief, with plenty of precious artifacts to his name and a bunch of nobles out to get him. His next heist, Crystalia.”

“Looks like Stacy’s falling for him already,” Cheryl snarked.

Stacy blushed. “Whatever, Cheryl. Thieves are just cool. But he’s not going at this alone, is he? Who else is tagging along?”

“Well, we ought to have someone to keep our dashing rogue in check.” Cheryl thought for a while. “I was thinking his partner could be an airship pilot, Friduric. It’d be fun to give him a fighting style based on his crazy inventions.”

“Yes, indeed,” Stacy concurred while Oliver and Tori nodded.

“He’d want the power source to improve his airship and go where no man has gone before!” Cheryl continued. “Because Callisto depends on him to get around Crystalia, they’re forced to work together against their will.”

“Hmm…” Stacy pondered. “Each of our party members could have their own reasons for wanting to go to Crystalia, and that would be the only thing keeping them together.”

“A band of misfits,” Oliver remarked. “I like that. So what character did you have in mind, Stacy?”

“Astoria, a brave and powerful summoner,” Stacy answered.

“Go on…” Oliver told her.

“Um…” Stacy stuttered. “I haven’t thought too much about it yet. I guess she’d want to prevent Crystalia’s secrets from falling into the wrong hands.”

“Hmm,” Cheryl pondered. “She could be some sort of anthropologist or secret keeper. As such, she’d understandably be skeptical of our boys’ motivations.”

“Yeah,” Stacy continued. “But she travels with them anyway to keep an eye on them, or so she claims anyway.”

“So she has a dark side?” Oliver commented slyly.

“Mischievous, at least.”

She turned to Tori, who had been quiet throughout the conversation, absorbed in her sketchbook. “Say, who do you think should join our party?”

Tori suddenly looked up from her sketchbook, showing everyone a picture of a waifish blonde girl. “How about her? I was thinking about calling her Ai.”

Everyone paused while Tori winced. “Sorry. I know my idea is stupid….”

“It’s not stupid,” Stacy retorted hastily. “Um…what’s her reason for wanting to go to Crystalia?”

“I guess she vaguely remembers Crystalia as a little girl,” Tori replied. “She’d hope to rediscover her past by returning there.”

“Hey, that’s pretty interesting,” Cheryl complimented. “Sorry about the pause. I guess we were just surprised, since she didn’t sounds as badass as the other characters.”

“Looks can be deceiving,” Stacy remarked. “She’ll likely unlock some super-awesome hidden powers along the line.”

“Like summoning a giant meteor or something,” Oliver added.

“Well, I thought of her as a healer,” Tori replied. “I’m not sure how a meteor would fit into her spell set.”

“She can still have holy magic,” Stacy pointed out.

“True.” She returned to her sketchbook, which showed the basic outlines for the crystal city. “I think our ideas are great, but I’m not sure how fast I can draw it all.”

“That’s okay,” Stacy told her. “We’ll take a break for now. I’ll need some spare time myself to start trying stuff in RPG Maker.”

“Sure,” Oliver said. “I’ll try to flesh out our characters some more.”

“And I’ll work on world building,” Cheryl added.

“Good then,” Stacy said. “I can’t wait to see what else everyone will come up with!”

—-

“Why should I play the Roman fool, and die on mine own sword? Whiles I see lives, the gashes do better upon them.”

“Turn, hell-hound, turn!”

Oliver turned to Ren, with an aggressive expression in his face, while the class stared at them in awe and amusement. He was prepared to recite the next line in the hammiest voice possible, when suddenly, he heard Stacy snoring beside him.

“Psst, Stacy,” Cheryl coaxed, nudging her.

Stacy woke up, mumbling, “Hey guys, what did I miss?”

Their teacher, Mr. Stewart, frowned at the group. “Oh, come on. Shakespeare isn’t that boring, is it?”

“Mr. Stewart, I assure you,” Oliver replied desperately. “Stacy doesn’t normally sleep through a fight.”

“Don’t mind me, Olly,” Stacy murmured. “Carry on with the show.”

Lucas snickered in the background, whispering to one of his friends, while Cheryl, Oliver, and Ren just stared awkwardly at Stacy for a while. Mr. Stewart, clearly embarrassed by the situation, gestured Oliver to continue. He put on an angry face once more, trying to ignore Stacy, while declaring loudly:

“Of all men else I have avoided thee, but get thee back; my soul is too much charged with blood of thine already.”

“I have no words. My voice is in my sword, thou bloodier villain than terms can give thee out!”

—-

Tori was waiting for her friends in the empty classroom, clutching her sketchbook in nervous, but excited anticipation. She finally saw them approach the door, and ran up to greet them.

“Hi!” she said.

“Oh hey, Tori,” Oliver replied, while Stacy just stared in embarrassment at her.

“What’s up with Stacy?”

“She slept through my big scene in English Class today.”

“Oh. What were you reading?”

“Macbeth.”

“Honestly,” Cheryl added. “Considering how loud you two were yelling, I was amazed anyone could snooze through that.”

“Why would Stacy do that?” Tori asked.

“I was tired, okay?” Stacy snapped. “Anyway, how’s Crystalia looking these days?”

Tori put on an anxious smile, hoping not to press the subject any further, and opened up her sketchbook. Spanning both pages was an expansive crystal palace on a floating island resembling a giant black tortoise. The palace was guarded by a rectangular wall fronted by two humanoid dragon figures. Protruding from the front-facing gate was a serpentine bridge, meeting the four adventurers at the deck of a steam-powered airship. Though it was a rough, uncoloured sketch, everyone was stunned.

“You thought this all up yourself?” Cheryl asked.

“Well, it’s just what I imagined it would look like,” Tori replied nervously. “I can change it if you want.”

“No need,” Cheryl assured her. “This is better than anything I could have done!”

“Indeed!” Oliver added. “Stacy, what do you think?”

Stacy stared nervously, trying to think of what to say. “It’s great!”

Tori blushed. “Glad you all like it! So what have all of you done?”

Cheryl took out a roughly sketched map from her backpack, representing the city interior. Symbols on the map hinted at a self-contained ecosystem, with a mix of trees and a vast lake and river system among ruin-like architecture. She turned the page, and the map became darker in colour, displaying a network of rooms and passages.

“We’ll have to tweak it to fit Tori’s concept art,” she explained as she passed around the map. “But I was thinking, it would be fun if we spent half the game within Crystalia itself. It can start with our crew finding a means to reach the city, and then all the action would happen inside.”

Stacy looked at the map skeptically. “Wouldn’t it get boring being in the same environment? I mean, this looks cool so far, but how much can we do in one place?”

“Well, I thought of making it a living laboratory of sorts to add some diversity.”

It was then Oliver’s turn to look at the map. He was more enthusiastic, examining it contemplatively. “Well, I like it,” Oliver said. “It would a nice change of pace to explore the city Metroidvania style rather than jump from place-to-place like most other RPGs. I don’t agree with the living laboratory idea, since I’d like the place to look more natural, but it’s a good start. I especially would like to do more with the underground labyrinth.”

“Me too!” Cheryl replied as Oliver passed it to Tori. “And we don’t have to go with the artificial ecosystems. It was just an idea I put out there.”

“It’s cool,” Oliver told her.

“I guess if you guys think it’s a good idea, we can work with that,” Stacy said. “I agree, it would be nice to do something different from the norm.”

She then shoulder-bumped Oliver. “So what have you been up to, buddy?”

Oliver shot back a playful frown at Stacy, which then turned into an eager smile. “I’ve come up with an opening for our game, narrated by our dashing Sky Pirate. Wanna hear?”

“Of course!” the girls cheered. Stacy and Cheryl looked at Oliver, anticipating what kind of over-dramatic flair he had prepared, while Tori had a more curious expression on her face.

“Crystalia,” Oliver began, attempting a suave Portuguese voice. “A legendary city in the sky. Some say it’s just a myth. But I know better. I saw it with my very own eyes, once upon a time. And now, I’m gonna see it once again.

“Who knows what lies within the city? A lost civilization, perhaps. Ancient technology, maybe. All I know is…it’s gonna be worth a fortune.”

Oliver stopped to catch his breath. “So, whatcha think?”

The girls nodded. “It’s cool,” Cheryl said.

“Just cool?”

“Well, it does establish Callisto’s character pretty well,” Stacy explained. “But I think our intro should be bigger than just one character.”

“Yeah, right now, it doesn’t sound legendary enough, if you know what I mean,” Cheryl added.

“I suppose,” Oliver said, disappointed. “I’ll keep working on it then.”

Cheryl turned to Stacy. “And what have you accomplished?”

Stacy smiled, directing everyone to a large flowchart on her computer. Everyone stared at it for a while, trying to comprehend what they were seeing.

“Um, Stacy,” Tori began. “What is that?”

“These are the characters’ skill trees!” Stacy answered. “I wanted to come up with a system where everyone would be unique, but there would be a lot of room for customization. So, for example, Ai can either focus on healing, or, if that’s too passive for you, she can be built more offensively with holy magic.”

The others merely stared blankly at Stacy.

“That sounds…complicated,” Tori said.

“How are you going to program all that?” Cheryl asked.

“It’s on the way,” Stacy told them nervously. “I’m still learning RPG Maker, but trust me; it’ll make sense once you see it!”

Stacy opened RPG Maker to demonstrate a battle. The party was facing off against a giant spirit dragon. She made Astoria call forth an Asura, which caused a black void to appear on top of the dragon. It swirled around for 5 seconds before shrinking and bursting forth in a rainbow explosion, dealing hundreds of thousands of HP and killing it off.

“Whoops, forgot to give it more defense,” Stacy said. “Just wait while I fix that.”

“Don’t you think we should get the basics down first before we worry about tech trees and flashy animations?” Oliver asked her.

“Well, of course I will,” she replied frantically. “I just wanted to make our game stand out, that’s all.”

“Honestly, I think you should slow down a little,” Cheryl said. “It’s a lot of work, after all.”

“Seriously, Stace, do you need some help?” Oliver asked.

“No, I can handle it. Really.”

Oliver noticed her drooping eyes, and stared disapprovingly.

“Oh, all right, maybe I do. But who else would be willing to help a bunch of high school kids?”

“Well, your uncle knows a lot about games, right? Maybe you can try asking for his advice.”

“Great idea. I’ll send him the plans tonight. Anyway, it’s been a good meeting, all, but I need to get home and work out a few bugs. See ya later!”

As she walked off, Cheryl and Oliver stared at each other awkwardly while Tori merely gazed at the open door with concern in her eyes.

—-

“Hi Auntie!” Stacy greeted. It was Friday night, and she was staying at her relatives’ place so they could go shopping the next morning.

Aunt Zhao looked at her niece with concern. “You look tired,” she told her.

“I know I was slow in roller derby practice, but I’ll do better next week!”

Aunt Zhao stared sternly at her. “Have you been sleeping right?”

“Um…okay, maybe I’ve been staying up a few hours late.”

Her aunt patted her back. “Just take it easy, okay? It’s good that you have an interest in programming, but don’t let your hobby get in the way of everything else.”

Stacy nodded, eager to get away from this conversation and meet her cousins.

“Hey, Stacy!” Nick greeted.

“We heard you were making your own RPG!” Ian told her.

“Sure am!” Stacy replied proudly, showing them Tori’s drawing of Crystalia on her laptop. “Just you wait, it’s gonna be awesome!”

“Wow,” her cousins gasped.

“It’s beautiful,” Nick said. “I can’t wait to see what the game is like.”

“When will you let us play?” Ian asked.

“Oh, I’m still working on it,” Stacy replied. “But I’ll try to have a demo for you by the end of the year.”

Just then, Uncle Zhao entered the living room and walked up to Stacy with a grumpy, disapproving expression on his face.

“Oh, hi, Uncle,” Stacy said quietly, intimidated by his face. “What do you think of our game?”

“It’s too complicated,” he complained. “Do you realize how long it would take to program everything? And yet you expect to be done by the end of the year?”

“That’s why I asked you for help.”

“Aiyah,” he sighed. “Do you expect me to quit my job over this?”

Stacy cringed. “Um, no, Uncle. I just thought, since you know a lot about games, that you might have some advice.”

Stacy’s uncle frowned. “Come, I want to show you something.”

The two of them walked over to Uncle’s room, which had an antiquated-looking computer showing a DOS interface. He typed in some commands, which brought up a question, and gestured towards Stacy to sit down. Confused, she looked at the screen.

“You find yourself at the entrance to a massive castle. To your north, you see that the door is wide open. To the south, you see a dense forest. Where will you go?”

Stacy typed in “enter castle.” The screen then prompted: “Invalid command.”

“What?” she blurted out.

“You have to type in a direction,” her uncle told her.

“Okay,” she said, annoyed. She typed in North.

“You are in the Great Hall. In front of you is a large staircase, leading to the upper rooms, while hallways lead west and east. The walls are decorated with portraits of nobles from throughout the castle’s history.”

Stacy typed in “North” again.

“You see a large door in front of you, with the door handle featuring a lion’s face. Additional doors line the west and east.”

Stacy typed in “North” again.

“The door is locked.”

“What’s the point of this?” Stacy asked in frustration.

“This is one of our old adventure games,” Uncle told her. “Made well before you were born.”

“But this is just a bunch of lines on a screen.”

“Back in the day, this is all we had,” Uncle snapped. “No fancy graphics. Just pure decision-making.”

“Yeah, but that was decades ago. Nowadays, people expect more out of their games.”

“Then why are people still making Space Invaders and Breakout clones?”

“A beginner could program those games.”

“But people still play them, yes?” Uncle stressed impatiently.

“Um, yeah. Because they’re easy to pick up at any time, but still fun.”

Stacy stopped, realizing what she was just saying. Uncle smiled.

“I guess I understand now,” Stacy continued. “It’s just that I’m always hearing about people who made great games all by themselves….”

“Anastasia,” Uncle interjected while Stacy flinched. “You’re only 17. You’ve got years ahead of you to make the game you want.”

“But they’re barely older than me….”

“It doesn’t matter! People don’t care about when you made something, they care about what you made, especially when you get as old as me. Do we remember what Mozart wrote as a kid? No, it’s his later work that everyone plays!”

Stacy sighed. He could tell she still looked unconvinced.

“Is that Lucas kid bothering you again?”

“Um, no, actually.”

“Then who is it?”

Stacy paused, thinking about why she was so dedicated to the project in the first place. Looking back, it did feel like she was trying to prove something to someone. Not Lucas, but someone else. She searched her thoughts for other gamers she knew, and she came to an uncomfortable realization. No, it couldn’t be. How could she hate someone that was so nice to her? It just didn’t feel right, yet the feeling persisted….

“No one in particular.”

Uncle Zhao stared at her in disappointment.

“Well, are you still playing? If not, I’d like a turn.”

—-

Defeated, Stacy spent the rest of her night in her room, aimlessly browsing Final Fantasy articles. Suddenly, she heard the notification chime. Realizing who it was, she reluctantly opened up video chat. She wasn’t really in the mood, but she felt she owed her friend some time.

“Hi, Anastasia!” Lydia greeted through the computer screen. “How’s life?”

Stacy was taken aback. “How did you know?”

“It was on the competitors’ list at the Smash Bros tournament.”

Stacy shook her head. “Don’t call me that.”

Lydia was perplexed. “Why not? It’s a lovely name. You know what it means?”

“Yes. Resurrection,” she answered nonchalantly.  “I don’t know, it just sounds pretentious.”

Lydia sighed. “I’m just really fond of that name, and I think you’re very lucky to have it. But if you’d rather me not use it, fine by me.”

Stacy frowned, embarrassed by her compliment. Right now, she wished Lydia would stop smiling all the time. “So, Lydie, what have you been up to?”

“I’m glad you asked. You see, my friends and I have been working on this adventure game, Memories of the Sleeping Village, and we’ve been looking for outside help. You interested?”

Stacy paused. Great, she thought. She already has a full game, while I can’t even get started on mine. “Um, sure, maybe.”

Lydia gazed at Stacy suspiciously. “What’s wrong?”

Stacy sighed. “We’ve been trying to make our own game too, and it hasn’t been going so well.”

Lydia was intrigued. “Really? What’s it about?”

“It’s an RPG with a misfit band of adventurers exploring Crystalia, a floating city.”

“Oh, like Castle in the Sky?

“So it’s not even original, then,” Stacy sulked.

Lydia paused, thinking of what to say to cheer Stacy up. “Every Japanese game owes itself to Miyazaki in some way. For instance, why do you think so many games have airships in them? And that’s not all.”

She paused, focusing away from Stacy as she clicked around for certain files on her computer. She sent them over to Stacy. Curious, she opened the images. One pair showed Sky Sanctuary Zone from Sonic & Knuckles and a similar-looking walkway from Laputa, the titular castle. Stacy was impressed, but it was the second pair that surprised her even more: a picture of a Chocobo shown beside a Horseclaw from Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind.

“See the resemblance?” Lydia asked.

“Yeah,” Stacy replied, still amazed by what she just saw.

“It’s okay to borrow parts of your favourite things,” Lydia explained. “As long as you put your own personal touch on the game, enough to set it apart, copying shows your appreciation for other games.”

“Come to think of it, I did start the project as a tribute to the original Final Fantasy, with the bridge and all, and Tori’s concept art resembled the Forbidden City.”

“Exactly. Say, could you send me it some time?”

“Sure thing.”

“Good. Anyway, what other problems have you encountered?”

“Well, we’re still stuck planning stages. Worse, I’ve been having a lot of trouble actually programming the thing. I keep running into glitches and I’m still not entirely sure how scripting works.”

“Oh. Well, let me know what I can do to help.”

“Thanks, but I’d rather not take too much of your time.”

“I don’t have a problem with that. Better than you getting stuck for hours.”

Stacy sighed. “It’s just… well…what’s the point of me doing it if you can do everything better?”

Lydia looked concerned. “Why do you say that?”

“I mean, you’re a Smash Bros. runner-up, you’ve already made your own game, and on top of everything else…”

She gazed at Lydia’s long black hair flowing behind her navy blue sailor shirt and bow. “…you look like that. How am I supposed to compete? I can’t help but feel that no matter how hard I try, I’ll always be inferior to you.”

Lydia was listening patiently to Stacy’s complaints. She puzzled over how to respond, then smiled. “Tell me, how long did you think it took for us to program our game?”

“Um, 3 months?”

Lydia shook her head. “Three years.”

Stacy gasped. “What? How? It’s just dialogue trees and buttons, isn’t it?”

“If only it were that easy,” Lydia replied. “You see, it’s hard enough to find time outside of school to work on it. Also, Willow and I live on opposite ends of the city, so we don’t get to meet each other that often. And when we did, we had a lot of arguments about what direction to take the story. Then Drew joined in, and he had his own ideas, which was great, but you can imagine how much longer it would take to come to an agreement with three heads involved. I’d write something, but Willow or Drew would read it a different way, so I’d have to reconsider whether it was the right direction to take.”

“Yeah, but that’s story. That’s different.”

“Really? Isn’t that the main reason you play this kind of game?”

Stacy nodded her head. “Point taken.”

“Knowing the language and software only gets you so far,” Lydia continued. “It’s what you do with it that counts.”

“You know, this reminds me of the talk my uncle gave me a while back. He said I was overcomplicating things.”

“Well, the more complex you make your program, the harder it is to fix things. Even for us, the dialogue trees and buttons often failed to work or did something unexpected. We had to retrace our steps a bunch of times just to find the flaw.”

Stacy’s eyes widened in shock. “Wow, you had problems too? I thought it would have been effortless for you.”

Lydia was amused by her remark. “Thought I had magical TV hacker skills or something? Programming is hard work. But, if we had some extra help, we could get done sooner. What do you say?”

Stacy smiled in relief, feeling a newfound enthusiasm overcome her. “Don’t expect it to be quick, but I’m game.”

“Excellent.”

Lydia stopped to type in an email to Stacy. “You can download the game at the link I sent you. No need to rush, just tell me what you think. And most of all, I hope you enjoy it. Maybe it can give you some inspiration for your game too!”

“Maybe.”

“And Stacy? Before you go, I have one last riddle for you.”

Stacy put on an awkward smile. “Of course you would. What is it?”

“You have something I don’t. See if you can find out what that is.”

“Wait, what do you mean?”

“Here’s a hint. Was I the one who started the gaming club?”

“Tch, anyone could do that.”

“You sure? If it was so easy, don’t you think I would have done it by now?”

Stacy sighed. “I’ll think about it. Anyway, good night, Lydie! It’s been a pleasure talking to you again.”

“Always. Good night!”

—-

The Games for Everyone club met once again at Cheryl’s house, ready for wherever the afternoon would take them.

“Sorry about the game, guys,” Stacy told her friends.

“Don’t worry about it,” Oliver said. “We’re just happy you actually got some sleep this week.”

“Besides, it’s not like we were trying to sell the game,” Cheryl added. “It was fun enough just coming up with ideas.”

“Yeah,” Oliver agreed. “Still, I think I’d had enough of Crystalia for a while. Right now, I’d rather play a game than make one.”

“We can always come back to the idea someday,” Tori told Stacy.

“Yeah, you’re right,” Stacy said. “But for now, I’m gonna practice some simple games first.”

“Now you get it,” Oliver said, relieved. “Say, are you looking forward to next term’s computer classes?”

“You bet!”

Cheryl smiled, putting in the CD for Night Trap.

“What the heck is this?” Stacy asked, bewildered at the intro.

“Oh, you’ll see,” Cheryl snickered.

—-

The screen cut to a scene of a teenage girl screaming hysterically while a group of faceless men in black clamped her with some sort of motorized hook.

“I’m sure glad you showed us this!” Oliver said, in between chortles.

“I thought it was appropriate after all Stacy’s been through,” Cheryl remarked, barely stifling her own laughter.

“I guess this just goes to show,” Stacy guffawed. “Even with a bad game, we can still have a good time!”

Tori said nothing throughout; as she was too busy giggling at the sight of the girl’s neck inexplicably shaking. Though the group was crying a shower of laughter, outside the window, a rainbow was starting to appear. As the light shone on the crystal city they created, it revealed its own rainbow, its light reflecting off the palace walls, with the magnificent Ho-oh flying over it.

(table of contents)

Fake Geek Girl Adventures 1-5: Lydia’s First Date

Published February 14, 2016 by immaterialideal

(previous)

“All finished!”

A warm breeze was blowing outside as summer vacation came to a close and Lydia’s new life at university was just beginning. She was moving in with Drew, an old friend from high school, and together, they were putting the final touches on their dorm room.

“You managed to get all your clothing in there?” Drew asked impatiently, wondering why she felt the need to bring so many different outfits.

“Yep,” Lydia responded, smiling back at him. “I know it seems like a lot, but it’s hard to choose sometimes.”

“Whatever you say,” Drew muttered. He never did understand her fashion obsession, but part of him was always curious as to what ensemble she’d come up with on any given day. For today, she had on a yellow sun hat, her hair braided in hues of red, orange and yellow. A brown coat with dangling fringes was draped over her body, above a floral miniskirt accompanied with knee-high maple leaf stockings and brown leather boots. Around her neck hung a circular locket decorated with an ice crystal pattern.

“By the way, thanks for all your help setting up everything,” he added, relieved. “We got done a lot faster than I thought we would because of you.”

“I thought it was only fair, since I brought most of it.”

“Well, you didn’t have to do so much….”

“Yet I did anyway,” Lydia teased. “Besides, now we can enjoy our last day of freedom. How about we take a stroll through the park?”

Drew’s eyes widened in excitement as they prepared to walk out the door. “Sure thing! It’ll be just like old times. Remember when we first met?”

Lydia blushed in embarrassment. “Oh, I could never forget.”

—-

“What do you think my chances are?” a younger Drew asked nervously to his friends.

He was eyeing a girl sitting alone at a nearby lunch table. She wore her hair in the ox horns style, with her long, black twintails tied together in buns and draped over her white silk dress. Her eyes were intensely focused on the pieces of a Tetris cube in front of her, seemingly unaware of the boys gazing at her this instant.

“With Lydia?” Martin retorted. “Good luck, she’s brushed off every guy who’s tried talking to her.”

“I don’t know if she even has any interest in anything other than her laptop and puzzles.”

“Well, I like a challenge,” Drew answered, feigning confidence.

“Then go for it, champ!” Ali responded encouragingly.

“Just try not to get friend-zoned!” Martin warned.

With his friends’ support, Drew walked up to Lydia.

“Hi there,” Drew greeted.

Lydia continued moving around her puzzle pieces without looking up. “Hello,” she replied.

Drew put on a cheesy smile. “What’s a pretty girl like you doing all alone?”

Lydia paused. “I like being alone,” she answered. “It gives me time to think.”

“About what?” he asked, leering at her intently.

“Anything,” she nonchalantly answered, still not making eye contact. “It’s none of your concern.”

Drew was silent for a while, trying to think of something to say that would catch her interest. Then he saw a curious object in her backpack.

“A DS?” he whispered in surprise.

Lydia finally looked up. “What about it?” she asked.

“Um…” he stammered. “I was just surprised to see you bring one to school.” He shrugged, adding with a whisper, “I’d have brought mine too, but the teachers don’t like it much.”

Lydia sighed. “It’s a pity, isn’t it? And I just got to the good part. At least it’s Friday, so I’ll have plenty of time to play once school’s out.”

Drew, sensing an opportunity to connect with her, inquired, “What games do you like?”

“A lot.” She paused, trying to come up with a more specific response. “Remember those point-and click adventure games?”

Drew gasped. “Um, sort of? I’ve heard of them at least.”

“I started playing one of the Nancy Drew games, and I’ve been hooked ever since,” she explained, smiling in reminiscence.

“They still make those, don’t they?” Drew inquired.

“Yes, and they’re still as fun as ever. I can spend hours searching for everything the characters had to say. Then again, I did not have many games growing up.”

“Why not?”

“My parents didn’t like me playing video games, believing they interfered with my studies. I had to call them brain teasers to placate them.”

She paused. Seeing Drew’s sympathetic expression, she added hastily, “I do love them dearly. They’re just… stubborn sometimes.”

Drew was silent, enraptured by Lydia’s words.

“I’m sorry,” she said suddenly. “Here I am, talking on and on, and you never got a chance to speak.”

“Hey, it’s fine,” Drew assured her, chuckling nervously. “I was just remembering my own parents when you mentioned sneaking games past them. Thought it was funny, that’s all.”

Lydia smiled, comforted by his words. “So, what games do you like?”

“Fighting games. You know, Smash Bros., Street Fighter,” Drew became giddy with excitement.

“How good are you at them?” Lydia asked, not following his enthusiasm.

“Well, I placed third in my last tournament. That’s gotta be worth something.”

“That is pretty impressive.”

“How about you?”

“Um, I don’t know. I’ve never tried those games.”

Drew was shocked. “Wait, really? Why?”

“I usually play by myself, so I never had the chance.”

“Well, I’ll just have to introduce you to the fighting scene, then. Are you free some time to play together?”

“Maybe,” Lydia drifted off. “I’ll have to think about it. Anyway, it was nice meeting you, but I’d like to finish my puzzle before lunch hour ends.”

Drew, paused disappointed at her response. “Well, alright then. But think about it, okay.”

“Sure,” Lydia replied. “Bye!”

“See ya!”

She watched him walk away, unsure of what to think of him. While she was wary of his intentions, he was surprisingly nice.

“What’s your name?” she called out suddenly.

Hhe turned around, pleased at her sudden interest. “Drew!”

She smiled. “Lydia.”

What a pretty name, he thought as he walked away. And I think she’s interested in me. I hope.

Content, Lydia returned to her puzzle, putting the final piece into her completed cube. She scribbled down the solution, then broke the cube apart to see how far she could get before the bell rang.

—-

 

A few weeks later, Lydia was sitting on a park bench with her DS and stylus in hand. She was wearing a deep purple dress, with her hair permitted to fall over her shoulders and was decorated with a twin cherry and plum blossom hair clip. Engrossed in her game, she looked up only to observe crows fighting over a piece of garbage. They were fascinating, how they felt just as home in the city as humans like her. As she wondered what went on in their minds, she saw a familiar face enter the scene. They both stopped as they made eye contact.

“Long time no see, Lydia,” Drew greeted.

“Hello,” she answered, still unable to decide how she felt about seeing him.

He walked over to her. “Hey, whatcha playing?”

She turned her DS downward so he could see the screen. A calming, but melancholy tune accompanied the sight of a labyrinth’s glass walls.

“Etrian Odyssey,” she stated.

“That game’s hard, isn’t it?” Drew remarked.

“I like a challenge,” Lydia replied.

Drew’s heart froze. Did she overhear what he said the other day?

“It’s nice to play something like the dungeon crawlers I used to try as a kid,” she continued. “And yet, I think I was drawn to the game for a different reason….”

She brought up the menu, which displayed a blonde, blue-eyed girl clad in armour. She gazed fondly at her. “Isn’t she pretty?”

Drew stared at the anime girl for a while, unsure of how to respond. “Sure, I guess.”

“It’s her curious expression that intrigues me. Wide-eyed and innocent, unaware of the horrors and wonders that await her in the labyrinth, but motivated by a desire to unlock the secrets of the world.”

Drew listened intently. He never thought about the game that way. To him, she was just a protector class, but to Lydia, she seemed something more.

“You named her after yourself,” he remarked. He had the feeling she was trying to tell him something, but didn’t know what.

Lydia merely smiled.

“This place looks lovely,” he continued, looking back at her screen. “What is it?”

“It’s the game’s best secret,” Lydia commented. “I’d tell you, but I’d think it’d be more fun for you to experience it for yourself.”

“Sure, but I’m not even close to the end yet.” Drew shrugged. “So many games, so little time.”

“Indeed,” Lydia concurred. “Perhaps my sparse game collection is a blessing in disguise. It gives me time to understand each one better.”

She looked back at her DS, mentally zoning out.

“You know, this had me thinking about how fragile everything is. We humans gained so much knowledge over the years, left our mark on the world with imposing feats of architecture, extended our life spans by decades, changed the face of the planet itself, and yet, we are still creatures of nature.”

She gestured towards downtown. “Our skyline is magnificent, but a single earthquake, and it all comes crashing down. In time, everything we’ve accomplished could be eroded away, lost to the passage of time, and Earth will not even remember we were here.”

Drew was astonished, feeling a little unsettled by her words. “I didn’t know the game’s plot was so deep,” he remarked.

“Perhaps it’s just my imagination,” Lydia replied. “I enjoy trying to fill in the blanks.”

“Well, you have…a very vivid imagination.”

Lydia looked back at him, with an anxious expression on her face. “Do you think I’m strange?” she asked.

“No, not at all,” he replied.

Lydia stared disapprovingly. “You don’t mean that.”

“I really do, honest!” he answered nervously.

“Your expression says otherwise,” she pointed out.

Drew stopped to catch his breath. “Well, why ask a question when you already know the answer?” he demanded.

Lydia stopped to contemplate his words. She sighed. “I apologize for that. It’s just that, a lot of people lie to me, thinking it’s to protect my feelings. But it never works. Eventually, I find out how they really feel, and I only feel worse, because they did not trust me enough to say it upfront.”

Drew felt a pang of guilt. “Okay, let me try again then. All that stuff you said about the end of the world, that was pretty disturbing, honestly.”

“Well, my mind often wanders to dark places.”

Drew continued. “You know what? You are strange. But you know what else? I like that about you. You’re like a mystery novel, someone that just compels me to read further.”

“See, was that so hard?” Lydia teased. Her expression then turned serious. “Um…thank you. I never expected someone so receptive to my ramblings, but I appreciate you listening so patiently.”

“You’re just an interesting person, that’s all.”

Lydia smiled, having nothing to say. She never expected such a compliment from him, but she reveled in the moment nonetheless.

“So anyway,” Drew added. “You still want to meet some time? I’m seeing a scary movie Friday night. You think you can handle it?”

Lydia beamed. “I’d be delighted.”

Drew was surprised that she didn’t even flinch at the prospect, but he was ecstatic all the same. “All right, 7 pm work for you?”

“Yes.”

“All right. See you at the Rio.”

—-

The next day, Lydia met up with Willow for lunch. Her short brown hair stood in contrast to Lydia’s long black hair, as did her T-shirt and jeans against Lydia’s dress.

“So,” Willow began. “You got invited on a date by Drew Park?”

“Yes,” Lydia replied. “You know him?”

“He’s the leader of the school’s gaming group, The Lost Boys,” Willow explained. “You should see their Smash Bros videos some time! They’re really good! And from what you’ve been telling me, it sounds like he’s also a really nice guy.”

“He is,” Lydia responded.

“Wow, a star gamer that’s so kind and considerate,” Willow looked towards Drew, who was chatting with his friends. “And good-looking too. Oh, Dia, I’m so jealous of you right now.”

“Are you?” Lydia asked, puzzled by her excitement.

“Wait, you’re not looking forward to your date?” Willow was used to her friend’s perpetually calm demeanour, but even then, she expected more out of her considering the circumstances.

“I am,” Lydia explained. “All you said is true. But, I don’t know, something’s missing.”

“What?”

Lydia sighed. “I know how I’m supposed to feel, that it should be the happiest day of my life. But for some reason, I don’t feel it. I do not understand why. I mean, I appreciate his friendship and all, but…”

Something then came to her mind. “What is the friend-zone?” Lydia asked.

“Oh, that.” Willow grimaced. “It’s when a guy expects a girl to fall head-over-heels for him, but she doesn’t feel the same way, so the guy gets all mopey because her friendship apparently isn’t good enough. Why do you ask?”

“Drew’s friends were warning him about it.”

“Dia, look. If he would cut off contact with you just because you wouldn’t reciprocate his romantic advances, then you weren’t really friends to begin with, were you? But if he really cared about you, I’m sure he’d understand.”

Lydia was relieved. “You’re right. I should just be honest with him.”

Willow smiled. “That’s the Lydia I know.”

Lydia changed the subject. “So anyway, how’s retail working out for you?”

“It’s boring,” Willow answered bluntly. “But mindless work is good for thinking about things. I get a lot of customers coming to buy those cheesy Nintendo T-shirts, so I’d like to start a whole store dedicated to geek fashion in the East End. What do you think?”

“You mean like cosplay?” Lydia asked.

“Not just cosplay, but that would be a major draw. There’s a lot of geeks around where I live, so I think there would be an audience for it.”

“Sounds interesting. I haven’t been around the East End much, but I’ve always been happy with the clothes you made for me, so I’m sure people will love it. Have you also thought about incorporating your cultural fashions as well?”

“Yeah, I know Coast Salish fashion is always popular. Ah, so many possibilities. But I’ll have to test the waters first. Anyway, hope everything goes well Friday. You’re a lot braver than me to be watching a horror movie.”

“Well, the idea is intimidating, but I’m also curious to see what it’s like.”

“Tell me how it goes,” Willow requested, just before the school bell rang and the two girls headed off to class.

—-

Lydia was waiting by the ticket counter of the Rio Theatre. It was 5 minutes after 7, and she had come even earlier than that, but she was patient. Her thoughts kept her company in the mean time.

“Hi Lydia!” Drew called out, having finally arrived. “Sorry I’m late. Traffic was nuts.”

“No worries,” Lydia consoled him. “I got the tickets.”

“Awesome,” Drew responded. His eyes were drawn to her silvery-white transparent gown and platinum blonde dyed hair. “Um…”

“What is it?” Lydia asked.

“Nothing,” Drew stuttered. “I mean, you look lovely tonight.”

“I thought this outfit would be appropriate,” Lydia remarked.

Drew was perplexed. She did indeed look attractive in it, but it was an odd choice for a casual horror movie night. I guess I don’t know much about fashion, he thought.

“Um…” Lydia began “I have something I wanted to tell you.”

“What is it?” Drew wondered.

Lydia prepared to speak, but caught a glimpse of the time. “I guess it can wait until after the movie.”

“Yeah, it’s starting soon. We ought to get going.”

—-

The pair found their seat in the theatre, surrounded by many other couples around their age and slightly older. As the screams of teenage boys and girls filled the air, they held each other close, trying to protect each other from the terror on the screen. Some covered their eyes, others were shivering, but there were a few who simply chuckled. Lydia was paralyzed in her seat, frightened, but strangely entranced by the movie. During the final confrontation between the last female survivor and her slasher nemesis, she cast an aside glance at Drew. He was one of the shivering ones, but as soon as he saw Lydia’s eyes, he put on an unconvincingly defiant expression. Lydia smiled, extending her arm and grasping his hand while her eyes were glued onto the screen. Her hand felt soft and comforting to Drew, as if he were touched by an angel, and his anxiety floated away for a brief instant.

When the movie ended, they walked out of the theatre towards the bus stop. Though they said nothing to each other for a while, Drew eventually got the first word in.

“So, what did you think?” Drew asked.

“It was an interesting experience,” Lydia replied, mildly excited. “I cannot remember the last time a movie held my attention the way this one did.”

Drew was astonished. “You weren’t scared?”

“Of course I was. But she was so brave back there.”

She paused, gathering her thoughts. “Maybe the movie would be scarier for guys? It must be a different experience, without a hero of your own gender to look up to.”

Drew was at a loss for words. He never expected this reaction out of her, let alone that she would be the one comforting him. But he saw her serene, smiling face, and he too smiled back. Strange as she may be, he was glad she enjoyed the movie in her own way.

“Thank you so much for inviting me here tonight,” Lydia said to him. “I think I’m beginning to develop a taste for these horror movies, and I hope we can do this again someday.”

“You’re welcome,” he replied, overwhelmed by her appreciation. “Yeah, whenever you’re interested, just let me know.”

They once again fell silent. At first, Drew was savouring the ecstasy of the moment, feeling he finally had a chance. But his head fell back to earth as he remembered something.

“So, what was it you wanted to tell me?”

Lydia was anxious. She was dreading this moment, feeling even more scared right now than she was throughout the entire movie. But she knew she had to say it.

“I overheard your conversation with your friends that other day when we first met,” Lydia answered bluntly.

Drew stared back at her. His suspicions were confirmed, and he was equally anxious to hear what she thought of him now.

“What you said unnerved me,” Lydia continued. “It reminded me of other guys that tried to hit on me in the past, like I was a mere trophy, to be collected. And it wasn’t just me, other girls told me similar stories….”

“Look, Lydia,” Drew interjected. “I didn’t mean all that! It was just guy talk! I don’t actually think that way…”

“Will you let me finish?” Lydia demanded coldly.

Drew promptly stopped talking, though he was shivering.

Lydia gazed sadly at the ground. “But you were so eager to listen to me. No matter what I said, how odd I may have seemed, you hung on to my every word. I was conflicted. The boy that talked to me was so different from the one in front of his friends. I liked our conversations. I appreciated our friendship. I liked you. But, I did not know if you felt the same way, or if you wanted something else.”

She reconnected eye contact with him. “I just don’t want you to feel, er, friend-zoned. Um…I guess what I’ve really been trying to say is…what do you actually think about me?”

Drew remained silent, pondering her words. Finally, he spoke up. “I really enjoy our friendship too. That friend-zone talk, that was just Martin teasing me. I don’t actually believe in that. But, I guess I was just scared to speak to you. I mean, you’re so, beautiful, and smart, that I thought you were way out of my league.”

“That’s not true!” Lydia interrupted. “You’re pretty handsome yourself, and you have a talent for fighting games that I could never have.”

“Just let me finish, okay?” Drew responded anxiously.

Lydia complied with his request. “Okay, continue.”

“But you’re so much more than that. And yet, you were willing to spend time with me. What I’m trying to say is…I love you. Not as a prize or anything like that, but because you’re the most amazing girl I’ve ever met. I want to spend the rest of my life with you, to learn more about you, and share all of our experiences in this wonderful world together, now and forever. So, what do you say?”

Lydia gasped, taken aback at the sincerity of his words. She wanted to say yes, and yet, she felt empty inside. Something was still missing.

“Thank you,” she began. “You have always been very kind, and I’m flattered that you feel this way about me. But…”

She stopped herself, struggling to continue. Upon her hesitation, Drew was prepared for the worst.

“I just don’t feel the same way towards you, and I don’t know why,” she explained desperately. “Even after our conversations, the movie, I know I should feel something at this point, but…I like you, just not in that way. Please don’t take it personally. It’s just…I’ve never felt any sort of romantic attraction to any boy. Even when other girls would go on and on about their crushes, I could never relate to them.”

Drew silently pondered, trying to understand where she was coming from. Then he remembered that Etrian girl. “Do you mind if I ask you something, perhaps a bit sensitive?” Drew requested.

“Anything you wish.”

“Have you considered, that you may be gay?”

“Hmmm…come to think of it, I do feel a strange sense of pleasure whenever I‘m around a pretty girl. But I never thought of it as attraction. Maybe I just felt I shouldn’t be thinking about other girls that way. I don’t know. I’ll have to think about it a little more.”

“Well, if you want to talk to me about it, I’m always here for you.”

“Thank you. I really appreciate it. Wait, so you’re not mad at me?”

“Mad?” Drew responded, half-chuckling, half-dejected. “Why would I be mad? We’re still friends, after all. But, I can’t help but feel disappointed. I’ve never met a girl like you before, and I don’t know if I ever will again.”

Lydia suddenly had a contemplative look on her face. “How many girls have you met before?” she inquired.

“Um, just you.”

She beamed, as if she had just solved a difficult mathematical puzzle. “There lies your problem.”

She took his hands in hers, and he once again felt that soft, comforting feeling. “You don’t have to worry about a thing, because you have a lot going for you. Somewhere out there, someone is waiting for you, and I know that one day, you will make her very happy. Just, be your real self when you see her. Don’t try to hide it with some phony pick-up persona, okay?”

“I promise,” Drew replied.

Just then, she saw something on the horizon. “Oh, there’s the bus. You coming?”

“Nah,” Drew answered. “I live around here, so I’m headed the other way.”

“I see,” Lydia responded as she got on the bus. “Well, thank you once again for the wonderful night. Farewell, ‘til we meet again.”

“See you, Lydia,” Drew waved back.

—-

In the present day, Lydia and Drew arrived at an outdoor piano just as they finished telling each other the story of their first date.

“So maybe it didn’t work out the way I wanted back then,” Drew concluded. “but I’m glad we met in the end.”

Lydia nodded. “How’s Willow been?”

“Oh, we keep in touch,” Drew replied. “I wish we could spend more time together. Even in the same city, we feel so far apart, and she’s always busy.”

“I miss her too,” Lydia concurred. “But we’ll both have to be patient. After all, you learn to treasure the precious time you do spend together when it’s scarce.”

“Yeah, you’re right. Say, how was the tournament?”

“It was fun. I got to meet some interesting players from Cedar Grove. In particular, there was this Anastasia girl, though she calls herself Stacy. She’s planning to start a gaming club at her school, and I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

She paused. “Hmm…perhaps I too should get more involved.”

“By the way, what did you place?” Drew asked.

“Second.”

“Wow, that’s amazing.”

“It’s only because of everything you taught me.”

“Don’t kid yourself. You only started getting good when you stopped following my lead. And your patient style has helped me a lot too!”

“I’m glad I could help then, as an honourary Boy.”

She winked at Drew. He smiled, and looked at his watch.

“Oh, I have to get going,” he said. “See you back at the dorm tonight! I hope the first day of classes won’t be too bad.”

“Don’t worry, we’ll survive. We always do. Bye!”

As Drew ran off, Lydia walked over to the piano and sat down, with only a few crows in the audience. She gazed at her locket longingly, then turned her attention to the piano. Her hands glided across the keys, playing a melancholy piano tune to the surrounding environment, intended for herself, but offered to any being willing to listen.

(next)

(table of contents)

Fake Geek Girl Adventures 1-4: Sakura Bladerunner

Published February 9, 2016 by immaterialideal

(previous)

It was noon at the Farmer’s Market, and the sun beamed down on the plaza’s many vendors. The Games for Everyone club were seated at their own booth, featuring several manga-style drawings juxtaposed with simple origami figures. Though Stacy and Oliver had on their regular clothes, Tori chose a sky blue shirt with a white skirt and matching leggings for this occasion.

“Sorry about my clothes, guys,” Oliver remarked about his faded brown coat and blue jeans. “I couldn’t find anything better.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Stacy responded. “Just bring a positive attitude!”

“That might be hard,” Oliver quipped. “We’ve been stuck here for hours and no one’s showed up!”

“Hey, would you rather be flipping fish n chips today?” Stacy retorted.

Oliver paused, cracking a small smile. “When you put it that way….”

He noticed Stacy staring longingly at the booth across the sidewalk. “Just don’t get too distracted, okay? We’re here to make money, not spend it.”

“But that penguin is so cute,” Stacy replied. She was getting restless as she wanted to check out the rest of the market.

Tori paid little attention to their conversation as she stared into space, dreading what people would think of her art. Suddenly, her eyes widened in surprise.

“I recognize that symbol,” Tori whispered.

Her eyes on transfixed on a girl rollerblading across the plaza, her skates decorated in red, green, and yellow stripes. In particular, she was interested in the jewel-like insignia on her back, which resembled a bird face with with wings flowing backwards from its eyes.

Oliver turned his head towards the girl. “I do too!” he concurred.

“Wait, what?” Stacy remarked quizzically.

Oliver was astonished. “You never heard of Cardcaptor Sakura, Stace?”

“I’ve heard of it. Just never watched it. Was like Yu-Gi-Oh?”

Oliver shook his head disapprovingly. “No, nothing like Yu-Gi-Oh.”

The girl skated towards the Games for Everyone booth, with wide-eyed excitement at seeing the art on display.

“Hi,” she greeted. “Wasn’t expecting to see an anime booth here. That’s some lovely art you’ve got there.”

Stacy beamed at seeing the first visitor they’ve got all morning. “Hi, my name is Stacy, and this is the work of our talented artist, Tori,” she explained as Tori blushed in embarrassment. “We’re selling arts and crafts to raise money so that Oliver here can go to university.”

Oliver was also recoiling at Stacy’s blunt revelations, but the girl smiled.

“I’m always interested in donating money to a good cause,” she replied, while turning to Tori. “Hey, you’re that dancing queen from the arcade, aren’t you?”

“You…recognize me?” Tori stuttered.

“Of course. I’ve never seen anyone so good at DDR before! And you draw manga art too? Wow, you’re really talented.”

Tori tried to catch her breath. This wasn’t the reaction she was expecting. “T-thank you!”

The girl extended her hand to a stunned Tori. “Name’s Cheryl.”

Tori returned the handshake. “That’s a lovely name, Cheryl,” she complimented.

“Thanks.”

Tori became inquisitive. “That symbol on your back…you’re a Cardcaptor Sakura fan, too?”

“Yep,” Cheryl answered. “I always wanted to learn to skate just like her.”

Cheryl gazed at a picture of a rainbow-coloured bird, primarily red, orange, and yellow, but with streaks of blue and green on her wings and tails. It resembled a golden pheasant, but with the tails and antenna crown of a peacock, and the feathers on her body looked like fish scales. In calligraphy, the drawing was signed春名鳥 in the bottom right corner.

Cheryl was intrigued. “This is really lovely.”

“It is, isn’t it? It’s a…” Stacy began, before interrupting herself. “Actually Tori, do you want to explain it?”

Tori looked like she’d rather be anywhere but here right now, but she took a deep breath.

“It’s a Ho-Oh,” she stated.

Cheryl was confused. “It doesn’t look like a Pokémon,” she remarked.

Tori paused, trying to gather her thoughts. “Well…” Tori explained. “The legend is a lot older than Pokémon. It represents the empress, and is said to only appear in times of peace and prosperity.”

“So Ash seeing Ho-Oh, it’s the same idea,” Oliver added.

“Interesting,” Cheryl responded. “But isn’t that the colour pattern of a male bird?”

“Yeah, that is pretty ironic,” Stacy quipped, smiling. “I’m still surprised at how dull female birds look in comparison.”

“Hey, they’re not dull,” Cheryl retorted. “They’re just not as fabulous as the guys.”

“Yeah, it’s hard to compete with those beauties,” Stacy concurred.

“In any case, I’d like a copy of Ho-Oh here. How much is it?”

“It’s by donation,” Stacy replied.

“Maybe…one dollar or something…?” Tori added.

Cheryl promptly slapped $10 on the counter. Tori and Oliver were astonished, but Stacy was ecstatic as she collected the money. “By the way,” she advertised. “Are you interested in joining the club?”

“A gaming club?” Cheryl replied ecstatically. “Of course I’d be interested. What are you about?”

“Nothing too complicated,” Stacy explained. “We’re just a bunch of geeks who love games. There’s no initiation or anything; just come as you are!”

“Any other events coming up?”

Stacy paused, nervously trying to come up with a response.

“Honestly, we’re kind of a work in progress,” Oliver remarked.

“I don’t mind,” Cheryl answered, as Stacy breathed a sigh of relief. “I’d love to be a part of it, and you guys seem pretty cool. When do you meet?”

“Our club meets every Monday at noon,” Oliver responded. “You can meet us in the commons area around that time.”

“Sounds great,” Cheryl agreed. “I’ll see you all at the club. Bye!”

The trio waved goodbye. “See you Monday!” Stacy cried out.

She skated off to explore more of the vendors as Stacy sorted the money into the till, Tori held her head low trying to avoid attention from other passer-byers, and Oliver stared into the distance. He was then distracted by a random thought.

“Come to think of it,” Oliver said. “I used to think Tori was a boy’s name.”

Tori promptly turned backwards from the counter, hiding her uncontrollably blushing face with her hands.

Oliver was confused. “What did I say?”

“It can go both ways,” Stacy replied disapprovingly. “And it doesn’t matter anyway.”

Upon hearing this, Oliver too blushed in embarrassment. “Sorry, Tori.”

—-

That Monday, Cheryl and Ren joined Stacy, Oliver, and Tori in their usual meeting spot.

“Glad you could make it this time,” Oliver greeted Ren.

“Hey, I did say I’d come at some point,” Ren answered.

“Hi Ren,” Stacy interjected. “You came just in time to meet our newest member.”

Cheryl introduced herself. “Hey Ren. My name’s Cheryl.”

“Hi Cheryl,” Ren greeted back. “You’re that cool skater chick, right.”

“Wait, how did you know that?” Cheryl asked, a bit flustered.

“Oliver told me.”

Oliver and Cheryl looked at each other, smiling in embarrassment.

“Say, I haven’t seen you around Pollock Secondary before,” Ren continued.

“My family moved here a while ago,” Cheryl responded. “I’m still getting settled in.”

“Well, let us know what we can do to make you feel welcome,” Stacy said cheerfully.

Cheryl was grateful for her offer. “Thanks. I really appreciate it. Everyone seems nice here so far. Say, how did the sale go?”

“We made 50 bucks!” Stacy replied, trying to stay optimistic.

“Half of which went towards the booth in the first place,” Oliver added dejectedly.

Tori had been very quiet up until this point. “You know,” she interjected. “It was just our first time doing this. Now that we have some experience, I’m sure we’ll be able to raise more money next time.”

“Tori’s right,” Cheryl added encouragingly. “And honestly, I was pleasantly surprised to see you guys at the Farmer’s Market. It made me feel more comfortable to know fellow nerds here.”

Stacy and Oliver smiled. “Thanks, you guys,” Stacy replied.

“I was feeling the same way,” Oliver added. “It was like, finally, someone our age!”

“I understand how you feel,” Cheryl responded.

Ren turned to Tori. “By the way, thanks again for the Chocobo.”

Tori smiled. “Glad you liked it. It was fun, seeing everyone so excited at the market.”

“But Tori,” Stacy interjected in surprise. “You looked like you couldn’t wait to get out of there!”

“I know,” Tori explained. “Being around so many people was scary at first. But looking back, it was fun! I’m glad that I came with you, and I hope to do it again some time!”

Stacy was touched. She admired how bright Tori’s face looked for a while, then turned back to Cheryl.

“So, what brings you to Cedar Grove?” she asked.

“Well, for one thing, it’s nice to get away from all that snow,” Cheryl responded. “Wouldn’t you agree?”

“Yeah, but why here, of all places? Wouldn’t you rather be in the city?”

“Do I look like I’m made of money?”

“Point taken. But this place is so boring! Nothing ever happens here.”

“Really? Being close to the river and mountains is nothing?”

“Yeah, it looks nice, but all the houses look the same and people seem to only care about their lawns. Dad’s a good example of that.”

“Oh, I see. Still, I don’t think everyone is like that. I’ve met some pretty cool folk at the roller derby club, for instance.”

Stacy’s eyes widened and she leaned forward, intrigued by what she mentioned. “We have a roller derby club?” she exclaimed.

“Well, someone seems excited all of a sudden,” Cheryl replied cheekily.

“I’ve always wanted to try it out,” Stacy answered happily. “The idea of just us girls duking it out, sounds like a lot of fun. Where do I sign up?”

“Well, if you come down to the arena Wednesday night, they have a free drop-in session for newcomers to try out. But it’s not going to be easy. You’re going to have to work out and practice a lot, and expect a few bruises.”

“Deal! Say, how about we all go together as a club?”

“Even the boys?”

“What do you mean by that?” Oliver snapped.

“We’d like to play, too!” Ren added.

“Well,” Cheryl began nervously. “The Cedar Grove team is only accepting girls right now, since we don’t have a boys’ team.”

“Aw, that’s not fair,” Oliver protested.

Stacy then offered her input. “Can’t we let them play this one time?” she asked Cheryl. “It’s a drop-in session, after all, and it’ll be a fun experience for the club.”

“I too am curious to see how Oliver and Ren fare,” Cheryl concurred. “And I don’t recall any rule that says boys can’t play at all. So I think it’ll be fine. Just hope you boys are woman enough.”

“Yeah,” Stacy added, bemused. “If you think it’s just some cutesy sport, think again. Roller derby is a full contact sport, and we’re going to be pushing each other around a lot.”

“Sounds like an average day at the soccer field for me,” Oliver said.

“I’m used to eating grass, so I’m ready!” Ren added.

Stacy smiled. “Okay, so that’s four of us. What about you, Tori?”

“Um…” Tori stuttered. “I’m not sure if I can do this. I’m not good at sports. I can never keep up with everyone else in gym class.”

“Aw, c’mon,” Cheryl coaxed. “You’ll never know what it’s like until you try. You might surprise yourself.”

“Hmm….” Tori pondered. “Okay, I’m in, then!”

“Woo-hoo!” Stacy cheered. “We got a team! Now we just need to come up with names.”

“Aw, do we really need some cheesy nickname?” Oliver complained.

“Yes,” Cheryl snapped. “Where’s your sense of fun? I thought you said you were woman enough for this.”

Oliver sighed. “Fine. I’ll try to come up with something that isn’t too embarrassing….”

—-

“Sakura Bladerunner! Great to see you again!”

At the entrance to the Cedar Grove arena, a blonde girl in a white tank top featuring a bloody camellia on its back ran up and hugged Cheryl.

“Wait,” Stacy interjected, confused. “I still don’t get the name. We don’t use inline skates.”

“I know,” Cheryl responded. “But does Quadrunner sound as cool?”

“Kind of, actually,” Stacy answered. “But I see your point.”

“Good. Anyway, this is Sofia, who goes by the nickname Carmellia’s Kiss. She’s the leader of our local youth team, ‘The Beemobile.’”

The club members chuckled at the name while Sofia glanced at them warily. “Who are the guests?”

“We’re the Skater Nerds!” Stacy replied. “And I’m Freewheeler Jade!”

“Olly Riot!” Oliver chimed in excitedly, without a hint of embarrassment.

“Falcon…Jam!.” Ren added.

Tori just stared blankly as Sofia turned her attention to her.

“And what’s your derby name?” Sofia asked.

Tori blushed, too anxious to speak.

“C’mon Tori,” Stacy encouraged her.

“Ro…Ro…” Tori stuttered. “Rollerbee Gale!” she blurted out before hanging her head in shame.

Sofia paused, then lent a hand to Tori. “That’s not bad, actually.”

Tori looked up, still unable to say a word, but smiled at her, returning the handshake.

“We’re new to roller derby,” Stacy answered. “But it looks like a lot of fun. Do you think we can play a few games with you?”

Sofia sighed. “Just for fun, eh? I was hoping for someone more dedicated. But fine. Only because you’re Cheryl’s friends. Get changed, and we’ll meet back in the gym to see what you’re made of.”

—-

Stacy and Cheryl were in the change room, all dressed up in protective gear. Cheryl was wearing a pink tank top, with the Clow insignia on her back, and with a star on her helmet signifying her jammer role. In contrast, Stacy’s T-shirt was green and featured an Ox Talisman.

“Sofia didn’t look too happy to see us,” Stacy told Cheryl. “She probably thinks we’re a bunch of losers.”

“Don’t take it like that,” Cheryl consoled her. “She can be hard on newer players, but she just wants everyone to do their best. You just need to show that you have the spirit roller derby in you.”

“Spirit of roller derby?” Stacy repeated, puzzled. “Does that mean ‘believe in yourself’ or ‘never give up’ or something like that?”

“You’ll see when we’re out on the track,” Cheryl answered.

Stacy sighed. “I expected it to be something ambiguous.”

“I know, but you have no idea what roller derby is really like until you experience it first-hand.”

“I suppose. Well, I’ll just have to show Carmellia’s Kiss I’m no shrimp!”

“That’s what I like to hear!”

Cheryl then turned to a room with closed curtains.

“You okay there, Tori?” she asked.

“I think so,” Tori called back. “I just hope I look all right.”

“Well, come out and we’ll check,” Cheryl replied.

Tori opened the curtains. She was wearing a long sleeved blue shirt and black sweatpants underneath her protective gear.

After a quick examination, Cheryl declared, “You’re fine.”

—-

The boys joined the girls in the hallway outside the change rooms. Oliver was wearing a Neymar Jr. jersey while Ren had on a black T-shirt decorated with flames.

“Ready, guys?” Cheryl called out to her teammates.

Everyone nodded as they walked into the gym.

“Remember, do whatever you can to stop Carmellia’s Kiss from getting ahead.”

“She doesn’t look that tough,” Oliver scoffed. “We can take her, right, Ren? Stacy?”

“Indeed,” Stacy agreed. “I can’t wait.”

“Why’d they pick her as leader, anyway?” Ren asked Cheryl. “The other girls are bigger than her.”

“Don’t get cocky,” Cheryl retorted disapprovingly. “She may be little, but she’s always got tricks up her sleeve. ”

Sofia and her teammates were already gathered in front of a woman with the name “Eye of the Tiger Mom” blazed on her back. Stacy gasped while Cheryl glanced towards her, amused at her reaction.

“Auntie?”

“Hi, Stacy,” Aunt Zhao called out. “Didn’t know you were so interested in roller derby.”

“You…” Stacy stuttered. “You never told me you played on the local team!”

“That’s because we barely ever talk,” Stacy’s aunt retorted.

Stacy looked down. “Sorry about that,” she replied guiltily, before suddenly smiling. “But…Uncle’s an arcade veteran, you’re a roller derby star…my family’s so cool!”

Mrs. Zhao smiled. “Thought I was just some housewife, did you? Now you know my secret identity.”

Stacy paused for a while, rendered speechless in excitement. “We should play together some time! I can’t wait to see who else is here!”

“Well, you can find out later. Right now, it’s your turn to play, kids!”

Stacy nodded as the teams took their positions. Cheryl and Sofia skated to the starting line, while the rest of The Beemobile formed an arced wall in front of them. The Skater Nerds, seeing this tactic, followed suit in front of them.

“Okay, girls…and boys,” she announced. “I, Mrs. Zhao, will act as referee for these rounds so that no one gets hurt. Ready?”

A girl on the sidelines started up the music: Escape from the City by Crush 40.

“Wait, is this…” Ren stammered.

“Yep,” Cheryl interjected. “It was my turn to pick the music today. Gotta go fast!”

“You have good taste,” Ren whispered back as Mrs. Zhao blew her whistle to begin the game.

Carmellia’s Kiss and Sakura Bladerunner skated towards opposite ends of The Beemobile wall. A large skater named Lilly Ridebetter moved towards Bladerunner, trapping her at the edge of the track while Carmellia plowed ahead. Falcon Jam was on one side of the wall, and prepared to engage her, but she zig-zagged away from him towards Olly Riot on the other side. Blindsided, Olly rushed to stop her, inadvertently creating an opening for Carmellia to get through as she pushed him aside.

“Carmellia’s Kiss is now the lead jammer!” Mrs. Zhao called out.

“Dang it!” Olly yelled as he got up.

Sakura Bladerunner finally managed to shove aside Lilly Ridebetter as she passed in pursuit of Carmellia’s Kiss. The Beemobile started pursuing the Skater Nerds in an attempt to break up their wall formation just before Carmellia caught up to them. She took a hold of Quadrachromia Iridis’s hand, whipping forward to gain speed. Seeing Rollerbee Gale’s frightened expression, she rode right towards her, causing her to flinch and break her hold on Freewheeler Jade. Satisfied at passing the group, she tapped her hands twice on her hips as Mrs. Zhao blew the whistle, just as Sakura Bladerunner was catching up to The Beemobile.

“And Carmellia’s Kiss scores 4 points for The Beemobile!” Mrs. Zhao yelled.

“Wait, what?” Stacy cried.

“Didn’t you know?” Sofia responded, shaking her head. “The lead jammer can call off the round at any time.”

Stacy blushed. “…I knew that. Was just surprised, that’s all.”

“Sorry guys,” Tori told her team.

“It’s not your fault,” Cheryl replied as she caught up. “But you guys staying together allowed Sofie to pass you all at once.”

Stacy grimaced. “So we’ll just have to come up with a better plan.”

The next few jams were similarly unsuccessful for the Skater Nerds. Carmellia’s Kiss continued to use her feint technique to get ahead as lead jammer. This time, they tried using a zig-zag formation to throw her off, but she effortlessly slalomed past them.

“Another 4 points for The Beemobile!”

For their third jam, they tried staying closer together while being more aggressive. Freewheeler Jade began the pursuit, but Carmellia’s Kiss pulled away at the last second, causing Jade to trip and fall out of bounds. Olly Riot and Falcon Jam tried to trap her in a pincer formation, but she suddenly decelerated, causing them to crash into each other as she casually rolled by. That left Rollerbee Gale to fend for herself. She tried to face her head-on, but seeing her approach ever close was too much for her, and she once again flinched.

“Yet another 4 points for The Beemobile!”

Distraught, Stacy and the gang decided to take a break on the bench.

“This is harder than I thought,” Oliver complained to Cheryl.

“Yeah, girls are pretty tough, aren’t we?” Cheryl taunted.

“I spent hours watching roller derby videos online,” Stacy moaned. “But actually playing is something else. Sorry for letting you down, Cheryl. Maybe we’re not cut out for this.”

“You didn’t let me down,” Cheryl consoled her. “Regardless of how today went, it was fun to try this out with new friends.”

Sofia suddenly showed up at the bench. “So you’re just going to give up?” she demanded. “Fine. You wasted enough of our practice time.”

Stacy got up and stared angrily at her. “No way!” she cried as she turned to her teammates. “C’mon guys, we can’t go out looking like total losers!”

“But I’m tired,” Tori whined.

Ren and Oliver stood up along with Stacy. “Yeah, we’re not quitters!” Oliver added.

“Let’s go again, just one last time!” Ren demanded.

Sofia shrugged. “You can’t play with a woman down.”

Tori, not wanting to hold the team back, stood up as well. Sofia was mildly impressed at their determination.

“Okay, but this is your last chance.”

—-

Carmellia’s Kiss once again gained the advantage over Sakura Bladerunner. Her expression was confident that this jam would turn out just like any other.

We got to think of something, Freewheeler Jade thought, as they fled from the pursuit of the Beemobile.

Suddenly, Lilly Ridebetter noticed Sakura Bladerunner trailing closely behind Carmellia’s Kiss, and The Beemobile changed course towards their opposing jammer. Rollerbee Gale, who was lagging behind, noticed Carmellia coming towards her once again.

“Oh no, Tori!” Freewheeler Jade cried. Her two teammates rushed towards Rollerbee Gale as Carmellia’s Kiss once again put on a smirk, expecting to intimidate her once again.

She approached ever closer. Rollerbee Gale closed her eyes, fearing that she would let her team down yet again. She leaned towards Carmellia’s Kiss, and felt her body push against Carmellia’s. She suddenly felt a shoving force against her back, and felt her hands hit the floor. When she opened her eyes, Carmellia’s Kiss was staggered with a shocked expression on her face.

Sakura Bladerunner smiled. She was in the middle of a shoving match with Lilly Ridebetter, and seeing her teammates stop Carmellia gave her the confidence boost she needed to push her aside and glide past her. Carmellia’s Kiss, regaining her senses, frantically tapped her hands on her hips to stop the jam.

“One point to Skater Nerds!” Mrs. Zhao cried.

“We did it!” Ren yelled out.

“You did it, Tori,” Stacy told her.

Tori was stunned as she got up from the floor. “No, I didn’t,” she argued. “Cheryl scored the point, and you all helped stop Sofia. We all did it!”

Oliver smiled. “I’m just glad we didn’t get completely owned, that’s all.”

The Beemobile sans Sofia rolled towards the Skater Nerds to congratulate them on the game.

“Good game, all,” Lily complimented them.

“Yeah, that was quite an ending!” Iris added. “Never expected you to get the better of Sofia like that.”

Sofia stood there, mouth agape. Her expression then relaxed into a smile, as if she finally was allowed to take off a mask. Suddenly, the door opened, and a pack of women entered the gym.

“How did practice go, honey?” a woman in dreadlocks called out to Cheryl. Emblazoned on her tank was the title JJ Top.

“Awesome, mom!” she called out. “My new friends decided to join in today!”

“Oh, so we have new team members?” she responded.

“Not exactly, Jen,” Mrs. Zhao told her. “They just wanted to try it out for the experience.”

“Well, I say the more people interested in roller derby, the better,” contributed a woman calling herself Babylon Legs.

Tori gasped. “Ms. Rama?”

“Oh, hi, Tori,” Ms. Rama greeted with a smile.

Tori cringed. “I thought you were mad at me for doodling in class.”

Ms. Rama shrugged. “Whatever happens in school, stays in school.”

Sofia finally spoke up. “Still, Ms. Rama,” she began. “I thought you were unfair to Tori, singling her out in front of class like that.”

Ms. Rama sighed. “You’re right. I should have talked to her outside class. Teaching is such a stressful job. I know Tori’s having trouble with math, but I just don’t know what to do sometimes. I wish I had more time to spend with her one-on-one.”

“Really?” Mrs. Zhao asked, adding in a mocking tone, “I thought you were all lazy bums with two months paid vacation.”

Ms. Rama rolled her eyes. “Rob Smith, right? I can’t stand that guy.”

“Join the club,” Cheryl’s mom, Ms. Jackson concurred.

“Wait, you’re in the same year as Tori?” Stacy asked Sofia.

“Yep, we take most of our Grade 11 classes together,” she replied, smiling at Tori as the latter stared at her anxiously, upset that she didn’t have the courage to acknowledge this herself.

Stacy, Oliver, and Ren hung their heads, embarrassed to be outplayed by someone younger than them.

“Look, it doesn’t matter how old anyone is,” Cheryl told them. “It’s a sport for all ages. We have grandmas playing here too.”

“Everyone is welcome here,” her mother agreed. “After all, this town can get pretty boring sometimes, especially for us stay-at-home moms. Roller derby gives us a bit of excitement every once in a while.”

The three of them looked up at the women in the crowd. “That’s amazing!” Oliver commented.

Stacy looked around frantically. “Yeah! I never imagined people in this town could be so cool! It’s too bad I’m not good enough for the team. But Auntie, do you think we can play together some other time?”

Sofia walked towards her. “Say, you interested in joining The Beemobile?”

“Wait, what?” Stacy exclaimed. “But we sucked back there.”

“It’s your personality that matters most,” Sofia grinned. “And I like your enthusiasm. It doesn’t matter if you start off physically and technically weak. We can train that, but attitude is harder to fix. A lot of girls come in only interested in the glamour and chicken out when they realize all the hard work that goes into it.

“You mean you were just acting, to teach me a lesson about the spirit of roller derby?” Stacy asked, dumbfounded.

Sofia glared at Cheryl. “What did you tell her?” she snapped. Cheryl merely shrugged and chuckled.

“So, Freewheeler Jade,” Cheryl began. “It’s a lot of hard work, and a lot of strenuous exercise, but do you think you’re up for it?”

Stacy smiled. “You bet!” she yelled as she group hi-fived everyone on the team.

“What about us?” Ren asked.

Sofia glanced towards them. “We don’t get many boys singing up. Perhaps you could start a trend, recruit a bunch of other boys, and be the first male roller derby players in Cedar Grove!”

Oliver and Ren pondered, thinking about the sheer responsibility that would come with that. “Nah, we’re good,” Oliver answered sheepishly as Ren nodded.

“Alright, it’s jam time!” Mrs. Jackson called out to her teammates as they skated out to the rink to the tune of Like the Wind from Power Drift. The team called Skater Nerds for one day sat on the bench with The Beemobile, watching the adults in awe. Tori reached into her bag and got out her sketchbook to record the day’s events, starting with an image of her new friend riding the wind.

—-

“Dear Lydia,

Today was amazing! Our new friend and club member, Cheryl, invited us to play a few rounds of roller derby. We…kind of sucked, but at least we managed to score one point, so we’re not complete losers. And I never expected it, but my aunt was there, and so was Cheryl’s mom and Tori’s math teacher. It was like a secret society for the women of Cedar Grove!

And the news only gets better. I made the team! Turns out that they were just looking for someone with the right attitude, and I can learn to not suck. Eventually. I can’t wait to strap my quads on again.

I’m so happy to see our club expanding. Maybe I have what it takes after all!

Yours truly,

Freewheeler Jade, a.k.a. Stacy Nazarenko”

Stacy breathed a sigh of relief. It was pitch-black outside, but if being tired always felt this good, she could get used to it. She was ready to go to bed, when she received a reply.

“Hi Stacy,

Ooh, a roller derby chick. Sounds like someone that could help you put some muscle on J.

You have amazing friends. Someday, when we meet again, I hope I can meet Cheryl and the others.

Anyways, congratulations! It sounds like you’re getting the hang of the club. And I hope you enjoy roller derby. As fun as it looks, I could never get used to skating. Perhaps you and Cheryl could send me a potion with some of that attitude? It might help.

Love,

That Millennial Girl, Lydia Li

李雪芬”

Stacy chuckled. “Oh, Lydie. An attitude potion? You’re so silly sometimes.”

She then gazed at Lydia’s self-assigned nickname curiously. That Millennial Girl, she thought. What does she mean by that?

(next)

(table of contents)

Fake Geek Girl Adventures 1-3: Lord of the Dance

Published January 24, 2016 by immaterialideal

(previous)

“Thanks for coming along with us, Uncle.”

It was a rainy Sunday afternoon, and Stacy was visiting her Uncle Zhao. His family was out on their weekly shopping routine at the mall, and they decided to make a stop at the arcade.

“You kids,” mumbled Uncle, as grumpy as ever. “Can’t you play these games on your phone?”

“It’s about the experience, Dad!” cried out Ian. He and Stacy were huddled around the Pac-Man machine, excitedly watching his brother Nick maneuver through the maze.

“Just don’t spend too much time here,” he grunted impatiently. “We still got a lot of stuff to pick up today.”

Ian and Stacy were still glued to the screen behind Nick. The board was nearly clear, but the ghosts were rapidly closing in on Pac-Man.

“Aw man,” moaned Nick just as he lost his last life. “So close. We could have finally seen the third cutscene today.”

“You tried your best,” reassured Stacy.

“There’s always next time,” Ian added with a smile. “Say, Stacy, have you ever seen anyone get that far?”

“Um…maybe Uncle or one of his buddies?” Stacy replied.

The three of them turned towards Uncle, staring inquisitively.

“You think I’d remember something like that?” Uncle snapped. “That would have been a long time ago.”

Suddenly, Stacy turned her head elsewhere, to the sound of stomping feet and Europop music.

“Hey, they’ve got DDR in here!” she exclaimed. “Let’s do that next!”

“Oh heck no,” Nick responded. “I can’t dance to save my life.”

“And I don’t play games to burn off calories,” Ian added.

Stacy shrugged. “Suit yourself,” she said as she walked off to the Dance Dance Revolution machine.

—-

Stacy stomped to the closing beats of a peppy J-pop song, and the screen revealed an A grade. In front of her family, she took a bow.

“And that is how it’s done!” she boasted.

Nick and Ian clapped in amazement, but Uncle was not impressed.

“Were you trying to break the board?” he complained. “You need to be light. Graceful. You may have passed the lower level, but you’ll never keep up with the faster beats this way!”

Stacy nervously giggled. “It’s not for a trophy or anything. I know I still need a lot more practice.”

She turned to the screen, noticing a recurring name in the high score table.

“LUNE,” she muttered. “That name again. Someone seems really dedicated….”

—-

Stacy walked up to the counter, an itching question on her mind.

“Excuse me,” she asked the clerk. “Who’s the player that’s been getting all the high scores on DDR?”

“Beats me,” he responded. “I guess someone who just really likes the game. Or a cheater. You never know.”

“It’s probably just some nerd with too much free time on his hands,” Nick told her.

“What makes you so sure the player is a ‘he’?” Stacy retorted.

“It’s more likely, isn’t it?” he responded. “Girls aren’t as dedicated to these games.”

“Says who?” Stacy snapped. “Don’t you remember Lydia?”

“Oh, that girl with the pink hair from the Smash Bros tournament? Yeah, she’s pretty good, but she was one out, what, three girls there including you?”

Nick notices Stacy continuing to glare at him.

“Hey, it’s nothing personal,” he responded nervously. “I’m not saying girls can’t be good at games. I know there are a lot of great girl gamers out there. It’s just that the probability is in favour of this LUNE fellow being a guy.”

“I suppose,” Stacy sighed, disappointed. “Part of me just wishes she was a girl, that’s all. But boy or girl, I’d like to meet this master DDR player. See how the game’s really played. And maybe…even challenge him.”

“In your dreams,” Ian taunted. “You wouldn’t last a second.”

“I know,” Stacy smiled. “But it’s not about winning or losing. It’s about standing in the shadow of greatness. About seeing someone who can take the game to its fullest potential! And maybe, just maybe, I can learn his secrets to becoming a DDR master myself by following his footsteps!”

 

Nick and Ian silently stared at her. Their cousin had a penchant for saying cheesy things like that, but they sort of admired her optimism. Uncle, however, was less convinced.

“You can dream about being a dancing queen all you want,” Uncle replied drearily. “but your other work comes first. You want to be a programmer? Yes? Then you need discipline. And if you want to learn rhythm, you have the piano to do so!”

“I know, Uncle,” Stacy giggled, while her uncle frowned at her sternly. “I’m just having fun, that’s all.”

—-

The Games for Everyone club was meeting after school in the library. As they had just finished putting up the posters advertising the art show, they decided to relax for a while. Tori was playing her DS in the corner.

“I still don’t get it,” Oliver told Stacy. “Why the Farmer’s Market? Why couldn’t we just sell stuff in the school commons area?”

“It’s not just about food, you know,” answered Stacy. “Lots of people sell artwork there. And there aren’t many vendors doing manga art in this town, so we’ve got a lot of potential customers right there. A lot more than we’ll be getting if we only sell to other students.”

“If you say so,” replied Oliver, still skeptical. “I still think most people are coming for the food, but we’ll try just this once. Anyway, how was the arcade?”

“Awesome,” Stacy beamed.

“I’m so jealous. Boss had me working all weekend. And my mom doesn’t want me spending too much.”

“Sorry about work, but I can pay for you,” Stacy offered. “Tori too. Next Sunday, you should both be free, right?”

“I sure hope so,” Oliver replied, uncertain. “I hate not having a set schedule.”

Tori looked up.

“I don’t know,” she answered. “My mother’s always worried about me staying out too late.”

“Aw, c’mon Tori,” Stacy responded in disbelief. “It’s just for the afternoon. It’s not like we’re going to a nightclub.”

“Yeah, well, I’ll see what she says,” Tori replied before returning to her game, seemingly uninterested in the idea of going the arcade.

“Anyway, you got to try out DDR?” Oliver asked.

“Sure did,” Stacy grinned. “A-rank on my first try!”

Oliver was clearly not buying her claim. “On Easy, right?”

“Normal,” corrected Stacy.

Oliver shrugged. “I guess that’s better than what I could do. Still not saying much, though.”

“I know. Just let me have my moment, okay?”

She then smiled mischievously. “But there’s something else I’m interested in. Get this. There’s this player that calls himself LUNE. He’s dominated the leaderboard for almost every song, even on the highest difficulties, and no one has even come close to reaching his scores. I don’t know if they’re legit or not, but if they are, I would like to find out just who he is. Got any ideas?”

Oliver drew a blank. “No clue. Perhaps someone in the Gamer Club?”

“Hmm…maybe Ren knows something about this guy. I guess we ought to pay our rivals a visit tomorrow.”

“Um…okay,” Oliver agreed reluctantly. “I guess I’m sort of curious, too.”

At that moment, Tori sighed in disappointment.

“Oh, how am I supposed to beat this thing?”

Stacy walked over to her. “I remember this boss!” she beamed, pleasantly surprised by the game she was playing. “Here, let me walk you through it….”

—-

At noon the next day, Stacy and Oliver walked over to the Gamer Club office. Oliver nervously knocked at the door, expecting Lucas to come out, but luckily, it was just Ren.

“Oh hi, guys,” Ren greeted. “How’s your club going?”

“Hey Ren,” Oliver answered. “We haven’t got anyone new recently, but Tori’s done great work with the posters.”

“Yeah, I’ve seen those. Lucas thinks they’re stupid, but I think they’re pretty.”

“Say, Ren,” Stacy started inquiring. “How many people in the club play DDR?”

“A few,” Ren responded. “Why?”

“We’re looking for some fellow who’s been getting all the high scores at the arcade. He posts his scores under the alias LUNE. Do you know him?”

“Hmm…haven’t been paying that much attention, but I don’t know anyone in the club that could place on the leaderboard…”

Just then, Lucas arrived.

“Oh, it’s you losers again,” he smirked, facing Oliver’s direction. “What loony idea did your girlfriend come up with this time?”

Stacy did her best to conceal her annoyance and put on a smile.

“Hey Lucas,” she began. “We were just wondering, do you know anything about the top DDR player at the arcade?”

Lucas scoffed. “Me, know anything about that girly game? You must be kidding me.”

“Girly?” Stacy replied sardonically. “That’s an interesting way of saying you suck at it.”

“I don’t suck,” snapped an annoyed Lucas. “I could easily beat you any day. I’d rather spend my time on real games, that’s all.”

“Whatever,” Stacy shrugged. “You’ll always be a DDR loser, then.”

As Lucas glared, preparing to snap back, Ren interrupted.

“Okay guys, settle down,” he mediated. “Lucas, everyone’s waiting for us. Let’s go.”

Ren whispered a final “Bye, guys” to Oliver as they walked into the room. Stacy turned to Oliver.

“Men,” she mumbled.

“Hey!” Oliver retorted indignantly.

“Not you, Olly, you’re fine,” she reassured him. “But I don’t get it. What’s his problem? We girls do guy things all the time.”

“Beats me,” Oliver responded. “But anyway, we now know he’s not a part of the Gamer Club.”

“Then I guess there’s only one way to find out. We’ll have to hang out at the arcade and spot him ourselves.”

“Well, you’re on your own there. I’d like to come, but, you know, work and other stuff.”

Just then, the school bell rang as the two of them walked briskly to get to class.

“Don’t worry, Oliver,” whispered Stacy. “This part, I can take care of myself. But I’ll let you in on it once I find out.”

—-

For the rest of the week, Stacy went to the arcade right after school, watching the DDR machine closely while trying to act inconspicuous by bringing homework or playing other games. Most of the dancers she observed only showed up for a few rounds on the lower difficulties. Occasionally, she would catch a glimpse of players picking higher difficulty levels or sticking around longer, eagerly awaiting their performance, but she was always disappointed as they failed to place on the high score tables. Unfortunately for her, she couldn’t stay long, as she knew she’d never hear the end of it if she wasn’t home when her dad got back from work.

Days passed fruitlessly. But she was persistent. On Friday night, she lay in her bed planning out how to see him. Perhaps he just doesn’t come in the afternoon, she thought. She should try going there at a different time of day.

That Saturday morning, Stacy got out of bed early. Quickly rushing to the kitchen dressed in her usual grey shirt and blue jeans, she prepared herself a quick glass of milk. Suddenly, her dad arrived.

“You’re up awful early,” he remarked. “Can’t believe you got up by yourself for once.”

Stacy stood nervously for a few seconds, before thinking up an excuse.

“Uh…yeah…” she stammered. “It’s…for an important school project. Yeah, my group expects me to show up to the park bright and early.”

Dad looked at her for a few seconds.

“Project, eh?” he repeated, with suspicion. “What top-secret project are you keeping from me?”

She paused, anxiously thinking up a response. “It’s about…birds! A lot of birds only show up at this time of day, and this is our only chance to observe their behaviour!”

Dad paused for a while, thinking it over.

“Well, scram,” he said sternly, gesturing to the door. “I don’t know anything about birds, but it sounds awful important. Don’t stay out too late!”

“Thanks, Dad!” she exclaimed as she dashed off. She thought to herself, ‘Phew, it’s a good thing Dad barely ever checks my schoolwork.’

—-

She finally arrived at the arcade, soon after the place opened. She was surprised to see how empty it was, as she had never gone there at this time. But, she thought, perhaps the master DDR player is a loner. She imagined what he might look like; in her head, she saw a tall, dark, and mysterious boy hitting the arrows with perfect clockwork precision. Sighing longingly, she snuck over to the DDR machine, and immediately, she did spot a figure clad in black, skillfully matching feet to a shower of arrows to the beat of a cheerful J-pop song. But it wasn’t who she expected.

“Tori?” she muttered incredulously.

She had never seen anything like it. Almost effortlessly, Tori’s feet rapidly glided along the pads, with all but a few steps being near-perfectly timed with the music. She moved as Uncle had described: light and graceful. Finally, the machine congratulated her on her high score, as Stacy quietly clapped in excitement, and prompted her to enter her name. She began to scroll for the letters to LUNE.

“A-ha!” Stacy yelled.

“Who’s there?” Tori cried out nervously. She turned around. “Stacy? What are you doing here?”

“I was wondering the same thing!” Stacy exclaimed.

Tori paused to catch her breath. She was not expecting anyone else to be at the DDR machine at this time, let alone someone noticing her playing, but she was relieved it was just Stacy.

“I come here every week while out shopping,” she explained. She sighed dreamily. “I love music games. When I become one with the melody, I don’t think of anything else. All my troubles seem to disappear like magic. But the people who come here make me nervous, so I try to get here when no one else is around and use a different name so that no one knows it’s me. Promise you won’t tell anyone!”

Stacy was still reeling in amazement at her skills. “I can’t believe you said you weren’t good at games. You totally owned that stage!”

“But I thought music games didn’t count!”

“Who said that? Of course they do! You’re really talented. Not everyone can get high scores like that, let alone on nearly every song.”

“Really? Thanks, Stacy!” Tori blushed, then her expression became nervous. “Again, promise you won’t tell anyone I’m here?”

Stacy shook her head and looked downward.

“Sorry, Tori. I can’t do that. For a whole week now, I’ve been searching for this legendary DDR player. And now she’s standing right in front of me. Now that I know who she really is…”

Her head snapped up. “I challenge you to a duel! Right here, tomorrow afternoon!”

Tori was shocked at her friend’s sudden aggressive attitude. “But…I’ve never played in public before!”

“What’s the matter, Tori,” Stacy taunted. “Scared?”

“Yes!”

Stacy’s expression sunk, disappointed by her lack of competitive spirit. “Oh, c’mon Tori,” she pleaded. “Just one round?”

Tori was confused at Stacy’s sudden mood swing. “Could you at least…ask nicely?” she requested.

“Okay,” Stacy agreed, realizing how inappropriate her trash talk was for someone as shy as Tori. “Could you please play a round of DDR with me tomorrow afternoon? I’ve always wanted to see the game at its maximum potential, and I’d like to see just how I measure up. I know you’re nervous about playing in front of people, but trust me, it’ll be okay. All of our friends will be there to cheer you on. And the crowd will love it!”

“Well,” Tori paused for a while, dreading the prospect of playing in front of the arcade audience. “I guess if you really want to…but just one round, okay?”

“Sure thing, Tori,” Stacy responded, excited at the prospect of playing against the best DDR player in town. “2:00 pm tomorrow work for you?”

“Okay.”

“Awesome! See you then!”

As Stacy exited the room, Tori sighed, returning to her DDR game. ‘I don’t understand her sometimes,’ she thought.

—-

Word spread rapidly of the mysterious DDR player finally showing up. The arcade was packed at peak hours the next day as Stacy arrived with her friends and relatives, dressed in a tank top and sweatpants as if she was heading for the gym.

“Okay, make it quick,” Uncle demanded.

“But Dad, aren’t you excited for this?” inquired Nick.

“He is,” Aunt Zhao interjected, turning to Uncle. “You know you can’t resist a good game.”

Uncle stared at his wife, doing his best to restrain himself from smiling.

“So Ren,” Oliver whispered on another side of the crowd. “Stacy’s been telling me it’s Tori.”

“What?” Ren exclaimed incredulously as Oliver gestured at him to stay quiet. “But she doesn’t look like…I never expected…I don’t believe it! No offense, but she seems so…shy and awkward.”

“Well, we’ll have to see for ourselves when she comes in. Any time now….”

At the DDR stage, Stacy tapped her feet impatiently. Come on Tori, she thought. It’s been 5 minutes. What’s taking you so long?

“Hey Ren,” one of his Gamer Club buddies called out. “What makes you so sure Stacy isn’t just full of hot air again?”

“Wait another 5 minutes,” Ren retorted. “If the mystery gamer doesn’t show up…whoa!”

Tori stumbled past the door into the arcade, dressed in a bright red dress with white leggings. Her hair was done in braided pigtails, decorated with a matching red band featuring a cherry blossom on its side, and on her feet were ruby red dancing heels. Her glasses were conspicuously absent, with her long black eyelashes on full display.

“Sorry I’m late,” she apologized. “It took me a while to get ready.”

Stacy was speechless, astonished at how much preparation she put in just to play a game of DDR.

“You…probably should put your glasses back on,” she suggested.

Tori, relieved, pulled her glasses from her pocket and put them on as she joined Stacy on the stage.

“You look good,” Stacy complimented under her breath.

Her face turned more competitive. “Ready, Tori?”

“Not really,” she replied nervously, trying to avoid the staring eyes of the crowd.

Stacy was disappointed in this response. “You’re the top DDR player,” she whispered. “You should be a lot more confident than that.”

“I’m sorry,” she whispered.

Stacy frowned. “We went over this. You’re not supposed to apologize…”

“Fellow geeks,” Oliver suddenly yelled out through a microphone. “The mysterious DDR player you’ve all been waiting for has finally arrived, and it’s time for some action! I, Oliver, will be your host for today.”

The crowd merely stared at him disapprovingly, whispering amongst themselves.

“On the left, we have our challenger, the lovely, Stacy. And on the right, we have the defending champion, the even more lovely, Tori!”

“Oliver…” Stacy muttered disapprovingly to him.

“Well it’s true,” he whispered back defensively. “I mean, look at your outfit, then look at hers.”

Stacy merely turned back towards the screen, unable to come up with a response.

“These girls have gathered for an epic battle of speed and precision,” Oliver continued. “A chance to show off their musicality and footwork…”

“Get on with it!” a crowd member jeered.

“Okay, fine,” Oliver muttered. “Stacy, Tori, do your thing.”

“Alright,” Stacy began haughtily. “I’ll let you pick the first song.”

Tori said nothing, her eyes inattentive to the people around her as she scrolled to I Love You, the opening theme of Full Moon o Sagashite, on Expert difficulty.

“Oh, crap….” Stacy’s eyes widened in dread as the song started up and the crowd cheered.

Tori stumbled a bit on the first few arrows, shaken by the roar of the crowd, but after a few seconds, she found her footing and entered some sort of trance. She looked as if she was suspended in a void as her feet glided across the pads in near-unison with the melody. Meanwhile, Stacy was frantically trying to follow the arrows. Left, right, up, down, no, left and right! Clumsily, she stomped on the pads while missing most of the beats, becoming increasingly exhausted.

The song finally ended, and those two minutes felt like the longest in Stacy’s life.

“Not even close!” Oliver announced. “The winner is…Tori!”

Finally snapping out of her trance, Tori was astonished to hear the crowd applauding and cheering for her. Even Uncle almost managed to crack a smile as he applauded her victory. She turned to Stacy, who was panting heavily.

“You okay, Stacy?” she asked.

Stacy turned to her with a big smile on her face. “That was fun, Tori! You were great up there!”

Tori was taken aback at her sudden cheerfulness.

“I know you were reluctant to play in public,” she explained. “But see? There’s no need to worry! You played just as well as you did yesterday, and everyone’s happy for you!” She extended her arm. “Good game, Tori.”

Tori paused before grasping her arm for a congratulatory handshake. She smiled.

“Thanks for playing with me, Stacy! We should do another game some time.”

“Sure thing! But next time, could we play on an easier difficulty?”

Tori giggled. “Sure. It doesn’t have to be a workout, you know.”

Stacy left the stage as Tori turned to face the crowd, who was clamouring for an encore. Emboldened by their support, she turned around to select the next song, this time with her playing solo.

—-

That night, Stacy was in her room gazing at the moon. She stared for a while, fondly reminiscing over the DDR game with Tori. Then she took out her PSP and put in her copy of Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy.

“You may be the best now, Tori, but I’ll beat you someday. Just you wait!”

(next)

(table of contents)

Fake Geek Girl Adventures 1-2: Keeping Up With The Smiths

Published January 18, 2016 by immaterialideal

(previous)

It was a beautiful Sunday morning. Unfortunately for Oliver, he had to spend that morning scrubbing the floors of the Fish N Stuff restaurant.

“Why do they have to drag us in so early?” he complained. “No one’s here anyway!”

“It just means we can get home earlier,” his mother explained. “Just do your job. The manager won’t be happy if you complain too much.”

Oliver sighed. “Yes, Mother.”

His mother, Maria Santos Palmiero, was one of the waitresses for this shift. As Oliver’s only parent, she was used to working long hours here. However, her income was so meagre that Oliver also took the job to try to make some extra money.

After what felt like hours, a pair of men arrived as their first customers.

“Welcome to the Fish N Stuff,” Ms. Palmiero greeted, putting minimal effort into a smile. “What would you like?”

“Two continental breakfasts,” answered one of the men.

“Two continental breakfasts to stay!” she called out, before turning back. “Please wait while we prepare your order.”

As she walked away, the other man whispered to his buddy, “Why did we get the ugly one?”

Oliver overheard that insult and was prepared to rush over to the table to deliver a piece of his mind, but was stopped by his mother.

“Remember what I told you,” she whispered. “Don’t say anything. It’ll only make it worse.”

Reluctantly, Oliver backed down, glaring at his mop. His mother warned him about the amount of jerks that ate at this restaurant, but hearing the constant snide remarks about his mother, both to her front and back, was no less easier now. Especially so when around noon, they came from an old adversary.

“Why do we have to eat here?” Abigail whined. “Their food sucks.”

“My dear Abby,” her mother replied. “It’s Lucas’s turn today to choose lunch. Besides, we can’t be so spendthrift. People who waste money so frivolously end up working…here.”

Mrs. Smith smirked in Ms. Palmiero’s direction before emphasizing her last word.

“What a pity,” her husband added. “Couldn’t find a man to support her, so she’s stuck doing teenager work.”

“Welcome to Fish N Stuff,” Ms. Palmiero interjected monotonously, trying to act as if she never heard their insults. “What would you like?”

“The Super Salmon Burger, if you please,” Lucas stated.

“One for me too,” Abigail added.

“The Caesar salad, dear,” Mrs. Smith requested. “It’s imperative that I watch my weight.”

“Fish and chips,” Mr. Smith finished. “Try to have it cooked properly this time.”

“Very well,” Ms. Palmiero said as she tallied up the order. “Your food will be here in 10 minutes.”

Oliver was close by, his blood boiling. I can see where Lucas gets it from, he thought.

A bored Lucas suddenly turned around to see him in his wet and dirty uniform.

“Fancy meeting Stacy’s boyfriend here,” he chuckled. “As if you couldn’t be any more of a loser.”

“At least I’m doing something other than being an ungrateful, spoiled brat,” Oliver retorted.

“Ungrateful? Moi?” Lucas sneered. “I’m plenty grateful…that I’m not stuck working in this dump. My schedule’s full enough as it is.”

Oliver looked on in shock.

“Yes, that’s right. Not just the Gamer Club, but piano lessons, soccer practice, the robotics club, my dad’s Chamber of Commerce events, should I go on?”

“Okay, fine. I get it. But that doesn’t make you good at them. We lost our last game because you kept showing off and hogging the ball.”

Lucas growled. “It’s not my fault the rest of you keep screwing up.”

“Now, now, Lucas,” Mr. Smith interjected. “Be nice to our janitor. He’s probably stuck here for the rest of his life.”

“Yes, dear,” Mrs. Smith added. “It’s a pity his mother never instilled in him a sense of personal responsibility. Laziness runs in the family, I guess.”

“His mother?” Abigail asked. “She’s our server, right?”

Oliver cringed. “Yes,” Mrs. Smith answered, and the entire family broke out in roaring laughter.

“Figures you’d also be a momma’s boy,” Lucas chortled. “You really need to stop hanging out with that Stacy girl. She’s been a bad influence on you.”

“Why don’t you just shut up?” yelled Oliver.

His words echoed throughout the restaurant. The manager, who was standing in the kitchen, rushed over to the scene to tell him off, with his worried mother following behind her.

“Please excuse us,” the manager informed the Smiths, intimidated by their contemptuous faces. “We apologize for the behaviour of our custodian. I assure you it won’t happen again.”

“Good,” Mr. Smith responded. “Your standards are low enough as they are.”

Ms. Palmiero gave her son a sad, disappointed stare as he walked off with the manager.

“Sorry for disappointing you, mom,” he replied.

She turned back to her customers, embarrassed by the scuffle.

“Has no one educated you on proper parenting?” Mrs. Smith asked in a mock-offended tone, with a wicked smile on her face. “You need to refrain from coddling that little brat.”

—-

“They did what?” Stacy yelled at Oliver, exasperated.

The Games for Everyone club had just found an empty classroom to meet in for lunch hour. Stacy and Oliver were talking about his recent mishap while Tori was quietly listening.

“Yeah, it sucks,” Oliver replied. “Luckily, it was just a warning. Next time, I’m toast.”

“It’s not fair,” Stacy complained. “You have to stand there taking all their bullcrap, but the minute you try to defend yourself, you get all the blame.”

Oliver sighed. “I hate having to work with my mother. I mean, I love her and all, but it’s embarrassing for people to point it out.”

“Look, Oliver, there’s nothing wrong with that,” Stacy reassured him. “You’re doing it because you care about her, and if some jerks think that makes you a loser, well, they’re the real losers.”

“I don’t understand why being a momma’s boy is a bad thing,” Tori added. “I think it’s nice, really, that you care about her so much.”

Oliver looked at both of them, cracking a strained smile. “Thanks, guys.”

“You’re lucky to have her,” Stacy remarked. “She’s a lot better than my dad, to say the least. Speaking of which, Lucas’s parents are a piece of work, aren’t they?”

“You thought he was bad,” Oliver answered. “He’s nothing compared to them.”

“Aren’t they those jerkwads that write for the local paper? My dad’s constantly shoving their opinion articles in my face.”

“Yep, Robert and Marilyn Smith. Still following their articles to see if there’s someone they don’t hate other than people as rich as them.”

“I have no idea why you do that to yourself.”

“Eh, it’s a bad habit. And we have to keep up with the news for Social Studies anyway.”

Tori sighed. “My mom reads that paper too.” She stared sadly at her sketchbook. “She doesn’t like to see me drawing. Says there’s no future in it.”

Oliver, seeing her sad expression, tried to comfort her. “Aww, c’mon. Your art is great. Maybe a little rough, but nothing that can’t be fixed with a bit of practice.”

“It’s not that,” she answered. “Mrs. Smith wrote an article about how no one wanted to hire students with liberal arts degrees, and Mom takes it really seriously. She’s been trying to push me to do something useful instead.” She sighed. “But I don’t know what else I’m good at….”

“I’m sure you’re good at a lot of things,” Stacy responded cheerfully. “You’ve still got plenty of time to figure out!”

“Maybe,” Tori replied, but still looking down.

Stacy went on. “Sometimes, I wish my dad would pressure me more. Whenever I tell him I want to be a programmer, he just laughs.” She mockingly imitated his deep, masculine voice. “You? A programmer? You can’t even keep your head on straight and yet you think you can handle all that code?”

Tori suddenly winced. “I’m sorry. I was being selfish, wasn’t I, complaining about my mother when your dad is like that.”

“Not at all!” Stacy answered. “I know it’s hard for you too, being told you can’t do what you love. It’s my fault for bringing up my dad.”

“Anyways,” Oliver interjected, wanting to steer the conversation someplace else. “How’s that poster coming along?”

Tori opened her backpack and pulled out her concept art. It depicted a tall, thin, and handsome man with long black hair courageously raising his sword to the moon, with a scared-looking blonde girl tugging at his side, hoping he would defend her. Both Stacy and Oliver had a puzzled expression when they saw the girl.

“Why does she look so weak?” Oliver asked.

“She’s scared,” Tori explained. “But it’s okay because she has her valiant knight to protect her. I’ve always wished that someday, a guy like that would come and rescue me.”

Oliver was still confused. “Why is that your fantasy? My daydreams are about taming dragons and scorching my enemies.”

Tori paused. “It’s all I have going for me,” she said quietly.

Stacy stared at her, nervously thinking of what to say in response. “Not that your design is bad or anything,” she began. “It’s nice. But I don’t think it’s the right fit for the club. We want to treat everyone as equal here. How about something a little more fun?”

“Like a festival, maybe?” Tori asked.

“Sure!” Stacy replied. “You’re the boss, after all.”

“Okay. I’ll work on it tonight.”

—-

“How was your day?” Lydia asked Stacy through video chat. She was wearing a long white coat over a black tank top, her hair dyed sky blue.

“Oh dear,” Stacy answered back, overwhelmed. “Oliver nearly got fired yesterday just because he yelled at Lucas’s family, even though they were mocking him and his mother first.”

“People can be so unreasonable sometimes,” Lydia commiserated. “Why is he taking that job?”

“His mother doesn’t have a lot of money, but she wants to send him to university to make a better life for himself. He’s trying to save everything he can.”

“Still, it’s going to be hard to raise the money on restaurant work alone.”

“I know. I really want to help him somehow. Set up a donation drive…or something.”

“Well, let me know what I can do to help. I’ve got a fair bit of money lying around.”

“Thanks, Lydie, but you really shouldn’t. We’ll try to raise the money ourselves.”

“Very well. But if you change your mind, let me know. I’ll be here if you need me. Say, how’s Tori?”

“She’s still working on the poster.”

Stacy paused. “You know, something bothers me about her.”

“Oh? What?”

“She said that all she had going for her was to be rescued by some handsome guy.” Stacy’s voice became quiet. “I didn’t know what to say. I know it’s her dream and she can think whatever she wants, but…it’s hard to see her with so little confidence in herself.”

Lydia paused. “It’s nice of you to respect her wishes. But yes, it is a little off-putting. She has her art going for her, doesn’t she?”

“She thinks it’s useless because she can’t get a job with it.”

“Nothing’s useless. Everyone has something to give to the world. I have computers, and my friend Willow has made a good living off her clothing store. Besides, weren’t you happy that she turned out to be an artist? Clearly, her skills are valuable to you and Oliver.”

“They are! How’d I forget about that? We’d be nowhere without her!”

Lydia smiled. “I remember when I started learning programming. It was all because of a computer scientist at the university who greatly contributed to our city planning. I wanted to be just like him; you could say, impress him. Not in that way of course.”

She paused for a while, thinking of how to continue her story. “But in the end, it’s up to you. A handsome prince can help you along the way, but you are your own person, and so is Tori. Only you can find your own way in life.”

“Who was that scientist?” Stacy asked.

Lydia was silent, with that same smile on her face. “It’s a long story. In any case, it’s been nice talking to you again. Good luck with the club.”

Stacy was unpleased by her evasive response, but smiled back anyway. “Thanks again, Lydie. Bye!”

“Hope to hear from you soon!” she said before she disconnected. “Don’t forget to send me the poster!”

Stacy stared at her blank screen while thinking about what Lydia said. Suddenly, she had an idea….

—-

The next day, Oliver, Ren, and Tori were eating lunch together in the commons area.

“So you’re Tori,” Ren greeted with a smile. “Nice to meet you. I’m Ren.”

“Um…nice to meet you too, Ren,” Tori answered nervously.

“I heard from Oliver that you’re a great artist,” he continued. “I hope you can show me someday.”

“Okay,” Tori replied. “Just don’t expect too much.”

“Hey, I’m easy to please.”

The two became silent. Tori returned to her sketchbook as Ren turned to Oliver. “Sorry about Lucas,” he told him. “Tried to talk some sense into him, but he’s ridiculously stubborn.”

“I know,” Oliver interjected.

“And yeah, his parents are pretty annoying,” Ren continued. “Ask Dad and he’ll rant about them for hours.”

“Really? He’s always so chipper in class. What did they do to him?” Oliver asked.

“Well, it’s not just one thing,” Ren explained. “The Smiths have nothing but contempt for the liberal arts, so you can imagine what they think of Dad.”

“Wow, it’s amazing you managed to be friends with Lucas then.”

“Thing is, Lucas has his problems too. He keeps complaining to me about how no one trusts his talent, how everyone thinks he just gets by on his money.”

“You mean he doesn’t?” Oliver remarked sardonically.

Ren sighed. “I know it’s hard for you to understand, but a lot of people hate the Smiths, and Lucas and his sister tend to get caught up in it. It’s especially hard for Abigail….”

Tori flinched at the name.

“You know her?” Ren asked.

“S-she’s my classmate,” Tori replied anxiously. “We don’t get along very well.”

“Oh. Sorry about that too.”

Ren looked at his watch. “Oh, I gotta go. Got band practice. See ya guys. Hope we can talk some more some time, Tori!”

“I do too! Bye!” Tori called to him.

Ren turned to Oliver for a brief moment. “By the way, don’t let the Smiths get to you. Dad said your introduction essay was great, and he understands how busy you are. He says he’d always willing to help if you get stuck.”

“Oh really?” Oliver responded, surprised. “Great to hear. I knew he was cool.”

“He is. Anyway, see ya at soccer practice!”

“Sure thing!”

As Ren ran off, Tori turned to Oliver, with a puzzled expression.

“So, why do you have to work such long hours?” she asked. “It’s your last year of high school. You should enjoy it while it lasts.”

“I know,” Oliver replied. “Trouble is, my mom and I don’t have a lot of money, but she’s determined to help me go to university. It ain’t pleasant, but you take what you can get. Hopefully one day, I can save enough money for my ticket to a better life for my mother and I.”

“What degree are you planning to take?” Tori asked.

Oliver looked nervous. “Uh, I’m still thinking about it. Not sure what I’m good at yet.”

“Oh,” Tori gasped. “You and me both.”

“It’s okay,” Oliver responded. “We still have time. Say, have you finished the poster?”

Tori took out the poster design from her backpack, now featuring a Japanese lantern festival with a cheerful boy and girl in yukata at a video game booth, greeting the viewer. “What do you think?” she asked.

“That’s amazing!” Oliver exclaimed. “I think it gets the message across perfectly, but we’ll have to see what Stacy thinks.”

Tori smiled. “Glad you like it! I wanted people to imagine some place fun, and what’s more inviting than a festival?”

A familiar obnoxious voice interrupted their conversation. “Hey there, Momma’s boy! Got yourself a new girlfriend, did you?”

Oliver glared back at Lucas and Abigail. “For your information, Lucas, Tori and I are just friends. Stacy too. I guess you wouldn’t know what that’s like, since the only girl who wants to be around you is your sister!”

Abigail fumed back at Oliver, his words having struck a nerve. “At least we have some taste in friends. I can’t believe of all people, you chose to sit with air-brain. I’m surprised you can even talk to her while she’s daydreaming about cartoon freaks.”

Lucas glanced at Tori’s poster. “You idiots still think anyone else wants to join your pathetic club?”

“Tori here just did,” Oliver snapped.

“Who else?” Abigail sneered.

Oliver paused, knowing full well that she was their only new member, but dreading having to give that answer.

“Figures you’d have to pick from the bottom of the barrel,” Abigail chuckled. “No one cool has any time left for your stupid club.”

She turned to Tori, her expression turning harsh. “Listen, you little freak. You think you’re such hot stuff, but no one is impressed by your lousy drawings. Everyone can see that you’re just a phony.”

Tori quivered in fear, tears streaming down her face. “Why do you hate me so much?” she cried.

“Why?” Abigail answered in a mocking tone. “Because you’re pathetic. You never pay attention in class, you do nothing but daydream your life away, and whenever you have to deal with any problem, all you know how to do is cry. You are the reason us girls have such a bad reputation, and I’m embarrassed to be in the same class as you.”

Tori, unable to control her tears, covered her face and turned away. Oliver was furious.

“So what?” he snapped. “You think you’re so strong, picking on Tori like that? She never did anything to you!”

Lucas, seeing the situation unfold, was getting concerned at his sister’s sheer vindictiveness. “Forget it, Abby,” he called out, trying to defuse the situation. “She’s not worth it.”

As they both started to walk away, Abigail gave one last glare to Tori as they both turned away.

Stacy suddenly entered the scene with a handful of cupcakes. “Hey guys, what did I miss?” she asked, before seeing Tori’s crying face. “Oh.”

“Lucas and his sister were just here,” Oliver explained, shaking in anger. “What she said to Tori…ugh, she’s such a…jerk!”

Stacy walked over to Tori. “It’s okay,” she reassured her. “We’re here for you. You’re better than what you think they are. We know how it feels. Lucas went after both of us, too.”

After a while, Tori started wiping away her tears. “You know, I sort of feel sorry for Abby,” she told them. “She seems so…hurt.”

Oliver was unnerved by her words. “Look, I know you want to see the good in everybody, but some people are just jerks. You need to look out for yourself too.”

“I’m sorry,” Tori cried. “That was a stupid thing to say, wasn’t it?”

“Wait, you don’t need to apologize…” Oliver retorted, taken aback.

“Oh, I’m sorry…” she immediately repeated, before blushing in embarrassment when she realized what she just said.

Stacy tried to cheer them up with a nervous giggle. “We’re…gonna have to work on that.”

—-

The trio decided to meet in Stacy’s room after school, where she was ready to announce her latest idea.

“So I was thinking of setting up a donation drive for Oliver’s university fund,” she began.

“You don’t have to, Stacy,” Oliver interrupted.

“Hey, we’re friends, right? That’s what friends do. Anyway,” she continued. “I wondered how we were going to raise money. I mean, cookies, pah, that’s so cliché. A club like ours deserves something more creative. More special. More…geeky.”

She turned to Tori. “That’s where you come in.”

“Me?” Tori responded in astonishment.

“I was thinking, we should have a craft sale. It’ll be a great way to show off what the club is about, maybe even get some people interested in joining. Obviously, you’re the best artist here; your poster is awesome by the way. Would you mind contributing some of your art?”

“But everyone hates my drawings,” Tori protested. “That’s what Abigail told me.”

“Who cares what she thinks?” she snapped. Seeing Tori flinch, she paused for a while to regain her composure and put on a smile. “Look, we thought no one would join our club in the first place, but here you are! Sure, Lucas and Abby may be stuck-up jerks, but not everyone is like that. I’m sure there are plenty of other geeks in Pollock Secondary and other schools that would love your work. We just haven’t met them yet. And we’ll never know if we don’t try.”

“Still, Stace,” Oliver added. “We’re making Tori do all the work?”

“Of course not,” Stacy responded while holding up an Origami for Dummies book. “We’ll contribute some stuff too.”

Tori thought it over. “But what if people laugh at me?”

“Tori,” Stacy demanded. “How are you ever going to become an artist if you keep everything to yourself? Don’t just think about people laughing at you. What if you missed potential fans just because you were too scared to meet them?”

“Guess you’re right,” Tori replied. She put on an awkward smile. “I’ll try my best then.”

“Awesome!” Stacy yelled. “How about you, Olly?”

“Your idea is nuts,” Oliver remarked. “We’re at the bottom of the social totem pole here, and you expect people to buy stuff from us? Then again, I guess that also means we’ve got nothing else to lose. I’m in.”

“Excellent,” she said as she smiled mischievously. “I knew you’d understand.” Stacy brought out a stack of papers, some art books, and other supplies. “Let’s get started then.”

(next)

(table of contents)

Fake Geek Girl Adventures Episode 1-1: Like Having Friends

Published January 1, 2016 by immaterialideal

“Tori, are you listening to me?”

The entire class turned their attention to the back of the class; to a girl with black hair, wearing round-framed glasses and a black schoolgirl dress with matching leggings. It was her first class at Pollock Secondary School, and she had her eyes buried in her notebook to avoid attracting attention. Up until now, that is.

“I…I’m sorry, Ms. Rama,” she stuttered as she looked up.

A blonde girl chimed in, “I don’t think those were math notes she was writing, Ms. Rama. Clearly, she’s too smart for you.”

“That’s enough, Abigail,” Ms. Rama snapped. “I can teach the class by myself, thank you very much.”

The class sniggered as Abigail slunk back into her desk, grimacing. Ms. Rama moved over to Tori’s desk, seeing sketch lines of Aqua from Kingdom Hearts in her notebook.

“Would you mind presenting your masterpiece to the entire class, Miss Haruna?”

“Please no….” Tori cried. “I’ll behave from now on. I promise!”

“Look Tori,” Ms. Rama lectured. “Math class is not the place for your cartoon characters. Save it for after school.”

She walked back to the board as several students in the class sneered at Tori.

“Oh, she’s one of those anime freaks.”

“What a loser.”

“Betcha she’s another one of those fake geek girls,” Abigail taunted. “The ones who are only in it to get popular.”

“Okay class, I would like your attention, please,” Ms. Rama sternly stated, drawing a right triangle on the board. “The sine function is also expressed as opposite over hypotenuse. In other words…”

Tori sighed, struggling to pay attention and ignore her classmates’ mocking before her mind wandered off again.

 

 

—-

Stacy was on the phone, talking to her best friend Oliver. She was excited at the prospect of forming her own club, inspired by the suggestion Lydia gave her at the Super Smash Bros. tournament that previous summer.

“Okay, we need a cool name,” she stated. “How about…Stacy’s Funhouse?”

“Really, Stacy?” Oliver fired back.

“Fine, fine. Stacy and Oliver’s Funhouse.”

“You’re missing the point here.”

Stacy paused for a bit.

“…right. So what do you suggest then?”

“Well, what’s the point of this club?” Oliver inquired. “Why join our gaming club when one already exists?”

“You see,” Stacy explained. “The Gamer Club is for a very specific kind of player, those that are hardcore enough or whatever. Our club is open to everyone that just enjoys games; no ifs, ands, or buts.”

“That reminds me…” Oliver contemplated. “Satoru Iwata once said, ‘Video games are meant to be just one thing. Fun. Fun for everyone!’ Maybe something along those lines…”

“That’s perfect!” Stacy exclaimed. “We’ll make that our slogan! And our name: Games for Everyone.”

“Not bad,” Oliver replied. “Now for the hard part: getting people interested.”

“I’ll make the poster. What other ideas do you have in mind?”

“I’ll have to think about it. My shift starts in 10 minutes. Gotta go! Bye!”

“See ya, Olly. Have fun at your new job.”

“I wish,” Oliver sighed as he hung up.

Stacy put down the phone, sighing elatedly. Finally, she thought. The gaming club she only dreamed of being a part of. A chance to meet new friends and bond over geeky interests.

She turned to her computer, searching for images for the poster.

—-

 

 

It was the next Monday, after the bell rang for lunch hour. The Games for Everyone posters were up all across the school. Stacy and Oliver sat at their booth, waiting anxiously for new members.

“It’s been half an hour already, Stace,” Oliver complained. “No one’s even looked in our direction.”

“Then we’ll just have to be more patient,” Stacy snapped.

Soon after, two familiar faces showed up.

“Hello again, twerps,” Lucas sneered.

“Oh, it’s you.” Stacy said, annoyed. “What do you want?”

“I just thought I’d check out the competition, that’s all,” Lucas replied, barely repressing a smirk.

“We’re not competing with you, Lucas,” Stacy retorted. “This is just a club for everyone who felt the Gamer Club was too intimidating for them.”

“Oh, a club for phonies?” Abigail replied, equally as condescending. “It’s a good thing you losers aren’t competing with my brother, then. You’re not even in his league. I mean, I could come up with that poster in 5 minutes.”

“Seriously, guys,” Oliver chimed in. “Don’t you have better things to do? Like, managing your own club?”

“I’m not a part of the Gamer Club, you idiot,” Abigail replied. “I just think you two are in over your heads. Is that so unreasonable?”

They walked away as Stacy and Oliver glared at them.

“Don’t listen to them, Stacy,” Oliver said. “They’re just trying to get a rise out of you.”

“I know…” Stacy replied as she gritted her teeth.

A few minutes later, a friendlier face arrived.

“Hi, Ren!” Oliver exclaimed.

“Hey guys,” Ren replied. “Seems like an interesting club you’ve got there.”

“Wanna join?” Stacy asked.

“No can do, Stacy. Lucas will be at my throat if I did. But I might join you guys some time.”

“Lucas?” Oliver responded, exasperated. “He and his sister were just here mocking us.”

“Yeah, I heard all that. They can be quite rude sometimes. Still, he’s kind of right about the poster. Random fonts and clip-art isn’t exactly convincing.”

“I guess,” Stacy sighed. “I don’t know anything about graphic design.”

“I don’t either,” Oliver added. “Got any ideas?”

“Sorry, but I’m as clueless as you guys,” Ren answered. “But you should both keep at it anyway! Good luck with recruiting!”

“Thanks anyway for the advice, bro,” Oliver saluted.

As Ren walked away, Stacy started to become dejected.

“This is a lot harder than I thought.”

The girl in black nervously watched the pair from a distance, her back to the wall. She wanted to walk up to the booth to talk to them, but when she started to move, she froze on the spot.

I’m not good at video games, Tori thought. There’s no way they will ever accept someone like me.

Staring sadly at Stacy and Oliver, her anxiety won out as she turned to walk away.

—-

That night, Stacy was hard at work on revising the poster, furiously changing fonts and trying out multiple different backgrounds and images.

“That doesn’t work,” Stacy sighed. “Maybe if I try this…”

Suddenly, the front door opened. Stacy’s dad appeared at the door, and a chill rose up her spine as he hung up his work clothes and walked towards her room.

“How was school today, Anastasia?” her dad greeted.

“Oh hi, Dad,” she replied sarcastically. “It was a total blast.”

“Are you still trying to set up that dumb gaming club of yours?” her dad taunted. “You and your crazy ideas.”

“Yes, I know.”

“Give it up. You’re wasting your time. Stop daydreaming about your video games and do something useful.”

Stacy sighed.

“Fine, whatever you say.”

But her dad continued.

“If she was still here, your mother would be so disappointed in you, dreaming your life away.”

Stacy gritted her teeth.

“I know, Dad. I’ll get back to work,” Stacy said, though clearly wanting to say something meaner.

“That’s my girl,” he mock-complimented as he prepared to leave the room.

Stacy listened to his footsteps, and when she could hear the TV turn on downstairs, she slammed the door, with angry tears in her eyes.

“What about you then?” she yelled to the wall. “All you do is sleep in front of the TV! Do you think you’ll really bring Mother back with that attitude? Do you?!”

She stopped herself, frightened that her dad might have heard all that. But there was no response.

Stacy sighed. “Oh, now I’m out of ideas. I guess I’ll just try again tomorrow.”

She turned off her computer and the lights, and fell onto her bed, grabbing her pillow to cover her remaining tears.

—-

Days passed. Stacy and Oliver sat and sat at their booth, all across lunch break and for hours after school, with different poster designs going up every day, but no matter what they did, they received no response. Finally, it was late Friday afternoon, and everyone had already left the school. Completely defeated, they decided to pack everything up. Oliver saw how sad Stacy was, and tried to comfort her.

“You did your best, Stacy. I’m sorry I couldn’t do more. I really wanted to help, but work got in the way.”

“No, Oliver,” Stacy replied, dejected. “Don’t blame yourself. It’s all on me. It was a stupid idea in the first place. Lucas was right. Dad was right. I was never cut out to be a club leader.”

They prepared to walk out, but as they reached the door, they saw the girl in black coming towards them.

“Wait!” she cried. “Is…is it too late to sign up?”

Stacy and Oliver turned to the young girl. They were so surprised they couldn’t think of anything to say.

“I…I’m sorry I didn’t come sooner,” she stuttered. “I wanted to, since you looked…you both looked so sad and lonely. But I was…scared…because there were so many people around…and I didn’t know what they’d think of me. And…”

She started to cry.

“I know I’m not much of a gamer, but…I don’t have any friends either, and I thought…it was unfair that no one wanted to join you. It was hard…seeing you both so alone, but I didn’t think you would ever accept…someone as worthless as me.”

Stacy, who was listening intently to every word, finally spoke up.

“Look, Tori,” Stacy quietly replied. “All you have to do is ask. We don’t judge anyone’s worth on whether they’re good at games or not. There’s no entrance exam or anything.”

The girl stopped crying, wiping away her tears.

“Really?” she exclaimed.

“Yep,” Oliver answered back. “What’s your name?”

“Tori.”

“Nice to meet you, Tori. I’m Stacy.”

“And I’m Oliver.”

“And we both want to give a warm welcome to our newest member, Tori!” they proclaimed in unison.

“Say Tori,” Stacy continued. “Whatcha got in that notebook of yours?”

“Nothing,” she replied. “Just my bad manga drawings.”

Stacy and Oliver gasped, glancing at each other in excitement.

“May we take a look?” Stacy asked inquisitively.

Tori handed it over, looking away in embarrassment as Stacy and Oliver flipped through the pages.

“Tori,” Stacy began. “I think you just saved the club.”

Tori gasped. “W-What do you mean?”

“We’re… bad at art, to say the least,” Oliver explained. “You saw our posters. We could really use someone like you to polish them up.”

“But I’m not very good at drawing,” Tori claimed.

“And we’re outright terrible,” Oliver retorted. “Anything you do would be an improvement.”

“So, Tori, what do you say?” Stacy asked encouragingly.

Tori pondered for a while, stunned by their warm response.

“I-I’ll do it!”

“YES!” Stacy and Oliver cried, with Oliver fist-pumping into the air.

The three of them smiled at each other as they walked out of the school towards the setting sun.

“So Tori,” Stacy asked. “Where do you get your inspiration from?”

“Well, I’ve always liked girls’ manga, and the art is so pretty, so I wanted to try drawing it myself. Have you ever heard of…?”

—-

“Dear Lydia,

Thanks for giving me the idea to start our own gaming club. At first, we didn’t think it would succeed, but someone joined up after all! Her name is Tori, and she’s quite the artist! We’re both really glad to have her on board, and she’s willing to help fix our crappy posters. I know Games for Everyone still isn’t much, and she only joined because she felt sorry for us and wanted friends, but hey, three is better than two, right?

Yours truly,

Stacy”

Exhilarated, Stacy read over the sent email. She could only imagine what kind of poster Tori would come up with. Suddenly, she received a new message notification.

“Hey Stacy,

Your new friend sounds really cool! I can’t wait to meet her. But wasn’t your goal to bring people together who wouldn’t otherwise think of themselves as gamers? Then why do you act as if Tori feeling sorry for you is not a good reason to join, or that the club is inadequate because only one other person joined? You need to be more confident in yourself and your friends.

Regardless, good luck in your new role as leader. I’m looking forward to seeing the club grow in the coming months.

Love,

Lydia Li

李雪芬

P.S. By the way, could you send me some of Tori’s artwork, especially once she finishes the poster? Pretty please?”

Stacy was delighted.

“Sure thing, Lydie. Whatever she comes up with, I’m sure it’ll be spectacular.”

(next)

(table of contents)

Fake Geek Girl Adventures: The Series

Published December 31, 2015 by immaterialideal

The world of geeks

A world that only the young and the young at heart understand.

This place they fly to, seeking solace, seeking a greater meaning,

But perhaps something returns with them….

Not a Pokemon

Welcome to a world of unlimited possibilities.

FAKE GEEK GIRL ADVENTURES

Upcoming:

  • Episode 1-7: Notes from the Suburbs
  • Episode 1-8: To Write, Perchance to Geek
  • Episode 1-9: For Cedar and County
  • Episode 1-10: Back In My Day
  • Episode 1-11: Nazarenko Family Values
  • Episode 1-12: Career Advice
  • Episode 1-13: That Millennial Girl
  • Episode 1-14: Pollock Was Here
  • Episode 1-15: How Do You Solve a Problem Like Stacy?
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Elodie Under Glass

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The Quixotic Autistic

Insights, Opinions, and Musings from an Autistic Who Can't Stop Trying and Dreaming

Global Justice Ecology Project

Global Justice Ecology Project (GJEP) explores and exposes the intertwined root causes of social injustice, ecological destruction, and economic domination.

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