//I...I am so sorry for this
The very next morning, a dirty alarm clock groaned to life at 5:30 AM inside of Riri’s apartment. Sighing, she grasped for it with a weak arm’s reach, eventually clutching onto the circular and rather annoying device. With a tired groan, she hurled it to the floor, where it proceeded to ring.
A shout was heard from the hallway. “Riri, turn off that clock or I swear—”
“Yada yada,” Riri exclaimed, rolling lazily out of her bed and picking up the clock. “I got it, Taco. Take a breather.”
Taco poked his blond head into the hallway, which could be seen through Riri’s open bedroom door. “You have school today.”
“Yes, so do you.” With a groan, Riri slammed her bedroom door shut and yanked out a school uniform without a second glance to her backpack, crammed to the brim with supplies. Her phone’s glow illuminated her face as she flicked it on and unlocked it. A message notification came from “Bixy”, from earlier in the morning. Way earlier.
Bixy 2:35 AM
I have something important to tell you at school. Meet me in the courtyard at lunch break.
Riri shrugged and tapped out a response.
Riri 5:33 AM
Lol sure thing, everything ok?
Riri placed down the phone and slid off her pajamas, quickly throwing on her button-down shirt and tie. Fixing on her long, brown wig to hide her cyan hair before throwing on her matching blazer, the phone buzzed again.
Bixy 5:34 AM
Riri raised her eyebrows in shock, but only punched out a response before throwing her backpack on and hopping into the kitchen, slathering a piece of bread with chocolate-hazelnut spread before launching out of the door, dashing to the train station from her Earth-22 apartment.
Riri 5:35 AM
Quickly shoving by people (much to their distain), Riri popped in her earbuds, which were securely connected to her phone. The music instantly started to play. Music that was hidden. Music that the Earth-22 officials couldn’t track.
Pop Culture - Madeon
Of course, from a distance, Riri just looked like she had the regular, brain-numbing pop playing that Earth-22 provided (unlike the pop from Beat). That was far from the truth, of course.
Nearby businessmen shriveled their faces in disgust as Riri shoved into them, passing by and bulldozing for the train station. Her hair was tied in a loose ponytail, thwacking into random strangers as she didn’t give a care about it.
Her glasses fell down her nose as she jammed them back up with her pointer finger, tapping her travel card to a kiosk and promptly stepping onto the escalator, Riri’s phone buzzing once again.
Toffee 5:54 AM
Riri, I’m panicking
Toffee 5:54 AM
Riri 5:55 AM
The messages were silent for a few minutes as Riri boarded the train, still immersed in her phone, heartbeat accelerating.
Toffee 6:01 AM
Bixbite went to talk with someone, they called themselves her friend
Toffee 6:02 AM
She hasn’t come back from talking
Toffee 6:02 AM
The person who took her had pink hair and wore an official’s suit
Toffee 6:02 AM
Riri please get here asap
Down the road, an official’s van rolls throughout the streets.
The driver was extremely tall, hunching over to drive in the small vehicle. He had hazel hair that fell into his eyes on a constant basis and purely red eyes - pupil, sclera, the whole deal. His skin seemed deathly pale in the poor lighting of the vehicle. Raven wings were ripped out of his suit jacket, which seemed to be rather expensive. The wings moved with the air conditioning gusting onto them, ruffling in the manufactured breeze.
Next to him sat a girl with dusty rose hair— wait, you’ve seen her before. From the stadium. Her official suit was pressed sharp and clean, her hair drawn into a neat bun. Her green eyes pierced through the dark setting of the car, as if they weren’t even real eyes…as if they were a robot’s.
Bixbite sat in the backseat, looking longingly out the window. Her school uniform was heavily creased from being thrown in a crumpled pile in her room, and the forgotten thought of doing laundry. Her pin-straight hair was drawn into a uniform ponytail, the perfection of it almost looking unreal.
The sights Bixbite were absorbing were…bland. And lifeless. More business workers shoved by one another in their dull suits, and the sky had turned from the usual crisp blue to a cloudy, dull gray. Rain splattered in sporadic parts onto the car roof. Children could not be seen anywhere, not a beaming face to bring sunlight into the world: they were all locked up in their Education Centers, stuck with those the same of their grade. Officers stationed at every corner, looking alert for those breaking a rule…
Rebel sat to the left of Bixbite, gazing out of the window with a similar expression. Her formal suit was done in a monochromatic scheme of reds, from the color of a rose to the color of dried blood. Creased ever-so-slightly around the waist from the buttons, it seemed as if it were near-flawless. Rebel’s expression, however, was anything but. Her eyes were filled with malcontent and sadness, and her fingers gripped the fabric of her suit jacket tightly, nails digging through and into her skin.
The car dragged to a stop and the eerie driver said in a rough voice, “…we’re here.”
The pink-haired girl immediately turned and exited the vehicle, spinning on her heel and waiting for the duo in the backseat to exit.
“Thanks, Corvus,” Bixbite whispered as she departed from the car. Rebel was silent as she followed suit. Soon enough, Corvus had departed from the vehicle and locked it, his expression grim in the reflection of the flawless paint job. As if…he knew something bad was going to happen.
Inside of the building, the rose-haired girl sat down inside of an empty conference room. Rebel and Bixbite stood behind the girl mentioned before, Corvus looming by the doorway.
The front door opened and out walked…a very short, very cute little girl.
Coughing, the small girl dusted off her miniature pantsuit and sniffed. “Rosetta, stand up,” she said in a surprisingly deep voice, twisting a crimson lock of hair behind her ear.
The pink-haired girl rose immediately, upon which the smaller woman climbed atop the long table and walked forwards. For 2’5 in height, she’s incredibly intimidating.
“Rosetta, was the club burnt down?”
“Did you collect the artifacts?”
“Good,” the woman sighed. “I didn’t want that to fail. You’ve taken the artifacts, I presume?”
“Yes, ma’am.” Rosetta reached into the briefcase that Corvus had lugged in and removed two papers, crinkled and old. Bixbite flinched in the corner upon seeing them.
The woman smiled as she pulled them closer. “Perfect.”
In a blur, a whip snared down the woman’s hand and threw her down onto the table. Bixbite’s eyes were full of fury as she pulled the whip tighter.
A gunshot was heard.
Rebel had shot straight into Bixbite’s chest.
The room was silent for a half minute before Rebel said solemnly, tears welling up, “I’ll dispose of the body. I apologize for her attack.”
Music could be heard in the background.
Welcome to the panic room…where all your darkest fears are going to come for you…
come for you...
After school, Riri sat in the shadows with a scowl on her face, a concerned Toffee nervously tapping away at her phone next to her.
Toffee groaned. “26 texts sent to all of my contacts. None of them know what happened to her.”
Riri sighed. “This is stupid. Is Bixbite safe? We don’t even know.”
Two small kids bounded up to the two. One was easily identifiable: Nyx. The other…who was she?
The girl had short, blonde hair, streaked shades of blues and tinged green from excessive chlorine exposure (as far as one could tell), curling around her round jawline and pale skin. Her eyes were light blue and she wore the school’s uniform as well.
Nyx stared straight at Riri, clutching the other girl’s hand tight in hers. “Where’s Bixbite?”
Riri shrugged with a sigh, leaning on Toffee. “I don’t know, for once. Who is your friend?”
Nyx raised her eyebrows, gripping tighter to her friend. “This is Zodiac, my girlfriend…don’t mess with her. She’s nice and I don’t want to have to hurt anyone for her.”
Toffee softly squealed. “Ohmygosh, they’re so cute together…”
Zodiac blushed a little with a weak laugh. “Ahah, thanks…Nyx, are you going to ask them?”
Nyx nodded. “Right. Well, Zodiac’s parents run a Lo-fi club. They were contacted by a business provider and told that they had useful information that they could make good use of. So, they need a full house. We need you to come.”
Riri sighed and nodded. “Sure, why not.”
Jogging across the yard, a teenage boy with short black hair and bright green eyes was frantically waving down Zodiac. He looked fairly older, and wore the male uniform: A button-down polo with a tie and black slacks.
Zodiac sighed. “Sorry, that’s my brother, Imagine. I-We have to go.”
Nyx nodded and pulled Zodiac away. “Come on.”
Rebel sat behind a dumpster, her eyes slightly swollen and red. A strong, metallic scent wafted around, the dumpster rustling with supposedly a raccoon.
The sleeve of Bixbite’s school blazer could be seen on the side of the dumpster.
Rebel clutched the flame close to her heart, her nervous flame that she always held. Whispering two words, over and over…
“…sorry for what?” a voice asked from afar.