Chapter 2: Part 5
Loud music assaulted my ears. The jumbled mess of sounds came at me from all directions without mercy.
Even Haruna, who had been quiet up until now, couldn’t help but have a sparkle in her eyes when faced with such flashy things. I guess it was right to go to the arcade. I’m relieved.
Almost as if she was trying to beat the noise, Haruna seemed even livelier than usual.
“What is this place?! What is all this sorcery?! Not good! Ayumu! Are you trying to do me in?!”
Haruna was wearing a pleated one piece. What was strange was that wrapping herself in that one piece almost made her seem like a gentle girl, which was quite different from the usual impression she gave off.
“Don’t worry. All the sorcery here is meant for you to have fun with.”
“O-Ohh. That’s pretty nice!”
Haruna ran off, seeming quite happy. I watched her receding back, when I felt a tug on my shirt’s hem. I turned around, and saw a silver-haired girl staring up at me.
It was Yuu, whom I had called out by phone. It seemed that she had gotten here before us.
… Although, was it just Yuu? I also invited Tomonori, but she said that there was some vampire ninja meeting after club, so she refused. Maybe Sera was also going to the vampire ninja meeting?
Ayumu. What are we doing here?
Yuu seemed slightly frightened of all the noise. She had already covered one of her ear with one of her gauntlets.
The people who passed us didn’t really stare, even after they saw Yuu.
If she walked normally down the street, she would attract weird stares, but that seemed to be different here. After all, people who loved cosplay tended to gather here.
“Sera isn’t with you?”
She had plans, so she will be a bit late.
I watched Haruna as she pitter-pattered all around the place.
“Do you want to try the UFO Catcher?”
I walked towards the crane game corner. Yuu kept up with me and walked by my side, and gave me another memo.
I’m a bit scared.
The arcade might have been too loud for Yuu. I walked and worried about that, but when we arrived at the crane game corner, Yuu began to look all around her.
She twisted slowly and with her entire body, almost as if she was checking each and every prize in the crane games.
“You see something you want?”
All of it.
All of it, huh? Well that’s good. It seems that she’s enjoying herself then.
“You like things like this then?”
They look like Megalo.
Ah, now that she mentions it, Megalo did look like stuffed animals.
I have to save them.
Well, I never thought about it like that. I began to head towards the change machine to change my bills into coins.
“Ayumu! Ayumu! This place is pretty fun!”
The minute I opened my wallet, Haruna came bounding over. Surprised, I dropped the 1000-yen note I was holding. I guess it’s true that noisy people really like noisy places.
Haruna took the 1000-yen note I had dropped and 6000 yen she had on hand, and brazenly converted them all into coins. So, Haruna also had money from this world? Was the money part of her allowance?
There were probably other masou shoujo who had stayed for a while in this world. If that’s the case, then it wouldn’t be strange if they were being funded. After all, it was natural, given that they were risking their lives. I mean, you couldn’t do anything in this world without money.
“Today’s on me! Go and enjoy yourself! Go go!”
Well thanks. But that 1000 yen was mine.
I split the mountain of coins with Haruna, and we went back to Yuu.
Let’s have fun! Let’s have more fun than we should be able to right now! Let’s make sure Haruna never looks as sad as she did back there.
A full smile rose across my face, and I spoke louder than I usually did.
“First, you put a coin in here!”
It wasn’t because we were in a noisy place. It was more like I was an innocent, excited child.
The two girls gazed at the coin slot with deep interest.
“You push this button and decide what you want to aim for…”
I looked in from the side, from above, and honed in on something that looked easy to grab. It was this part of the game that was the most fun. Alright… let’s go with that one.
I decided to go for a stuffed bear. There were no obstacles between it and the exit slot, and the distance I had to move it wasn’t bad either. Its head was also around as big as the crane.
Yuu stared at my face as I chuckled.
Yes, just watch me… this is… my way of life!
The arm grabbed the bear. Tch… looks like my aim was just a bit off. But, I’ll grab onto you tighter than a vice! If I do that…
“….. Ah.” I heard Haruna say that, and at the same time, the stuffed bear fell.
I let out a loud scream inside my head.
… To be honest, I had never won anything from games like these.
Each and every person had their own strong and weak points.
No matter how much you tried, something that was impossible was going to stay impossible.
That was my way of life.
“So, well, that’s sorta how you do it…”
When I turned around, I saw Yuu hugging a stuffed dolphin. She used the back of the same memo from before to write something.
I rescued it. = “Onii-chan, look look! I won it!”
Seriously? On the first try?
But I was too late. = “But, it’s not moving~~~.”
Well, it was never alive in the first place.
“Ayumu! Look here! It’s a masterpiece!”
There was a huge stuffed bear poking its head out the prize slot. Haruna pointed to the stuffed bear that was completely stuck in the slot and laughed uproariously.
… Was it honestly possible to even get that out at this point?
I called an arcade employee over, and he got the huge stuffed bear out for us. It seemed that if you could pack it into the exit slot that completely, you could take it home with you even if it wouldn’t come out of the slot.
I couldn’t lose here. I had my pride as a human of this world!
I tossed in a 500-yen coin and aimed for another prize. I went for something closer to the exit slot this time. I didn’t even have to pick it up. I changed the plan and resolved to just roll it into the exit with the arm.
But, it was hopeless. I was drowning in quicksand… it was overwhelmingly, overwhelmingly hopeless.
“Honestly, I just can’t stand watching you anymore.”
I heard the beautiful voice of a goddess behind me, and I hurriedly turned around. Feeling embarrassed that she had seen me completely failing at the crane game, I tried to change the subject.
“Ah, so you finally came. What are you doing here?”
“You were the one who called me here, and you’re still asking me what I’m doing here? Are you that much of an idiot?”
There stood a ponytailed girl of unrivaled beauty.
My eyes couldn’t help but wander to her bosom hidden by her tube-top. I just had to marvel at her charm points, which were all brought out by her short denim jeans and stockings.
“Get out of the way.”
Sera faced me as my eyes restlessly darted up and down, and brushed me aside as she tossed a 100-yen coin into the machine and pushed the start button.
She was aiming for the upside-down stuffed animal that was resting right above the exit slot.
There wasn’t really a place on that one to grip onto. It was also impossible to roll that one with the arm.
The arm grabbed onto the stuffed animal’s head. Wait wait, you should at least try to pick it up from the middle. It’s not going to get lifted at all, you know? Geez, you suck. Well, I guess this wasn’t really a game that seemed to mesh well with vampire ninjas.
As I thought, the head was lifted just slightly, but the body didn’t follow. And then, the head slipped from the crane arm.
See? What did I tell you? At least, that’s what I was thinking, but then the head was pulled by gravity back down to the bottom. The recoil from that collision caused the stuffed animal to do what looked like a frontwards somersault… and then…
“This is what I call a Tsuame Gaeshi.”
What in the world… you could do it that way too?!
Sera handed me her war trophy. The slight, sweet smell of perfume tickled my nostrils.
“Hm? Hey, it’s the leaf woman!”
Haruna’s eyes gleamed, and the minute she caught sight of Sera, she sent a low tackle her way. Now that I think about it, at that point it was pretty rare for Haruna to send that kind of attack at anyone other than me.
“Take a look! It’s the outfit you picked for me! It’s cute, isn’t it?!”
Haruna tugged up the hem of her clothes and spun around.
“… Yeah, it really fits you well.”
When she saw Haruna flashing her teeth and giving a huge smile like that, Sera gave a gentle smile in return.
“Haruna, come with me. Let’s have a match.”
Sera left with Haruna in tow. They almost looked like sisters.
I felt a tug on my shirt, and saw Yuu holding out another memo for me.
Ayumu is with me. = “Oniichan, play with Yuu~~!”
“Ahh, how about one of those amusement park games?”
It was quite an honor to be invited like that by Yuu.
I went and enjoyed some amusement park games with Yuu, while Sera and Haruna played more competitive games, like racing games or one-on-one fighters.
Quite unexpectedly, Sera and Haruna seemed to be tied for the number of victories. This should have been the first time Haruna had been in an arcade or played a game like this. Was Sera going easy on her, or was Haruna just incredibly fast at getting accustomed to new things? Maybe this was just why they called her a genius.
“Ayumu! Have a match with me!”
I was called to, and I somewhat reluctantly agreed to be her sparring partner. I didn’t really want to do it, but this may be a chance to beat up the person who spent all day attacking me silly.
Fufufu. Maybe we’ll go with this game. I’ll teach her how much of a difference time and practice can make…
“O-One more time!”
Impossible! To think I would…
“What if I don’t use four of the buttons?”
I couldn’t even win one match… and what’s more, I had a handicap… this was seriously humiliating. My pride was…
“Don’t use five.”
Who needs pride?
If I could beat Haruna, I’d use anything I could, and that included handicaps… but I was still crushed.
“Ayumu! What’s that box over there?!”
Haruna pointed at something with her ahoge. What I saw there was…
“Ah, a Purikura box?” (1)
“Ohh, I’ve heard rumors told of those things…”
“You’ve heard about them in rumors?”
“It’s an abbreviation for the name of the seventh Nepalese king, who was enthroned in the year 1881, right?”
… Who the hell is that?!
“No, this isn’t about Prithvi Bir Bikram Shah.”
Why the hell did Sera know what she was talking about?!
Pre-crash Safety System?
Completely wrong. That was something you would find in cars.
“It’s just a normal photo booth.”
“Ahh, photo booth, huh? Got it got it!”
Haruna gave me a dry smile and ran into the booth. But she came out immediately.
“So, what do I do?”
“You take photos.”
“Alright! I’ll take them to death!”
Like that, all four of us decided to go in and take photos in the photo booth.
I wasn’t really a big fan of photo booths… but well… it wouldn’t be bad to have a photo to commemorate the occasion.
It wouldn’t be bad, but…
I was the only one who showed up on the photo.
Haruna had kicked me flying, and my face was pushed against the camera, leading to a completely unintelligible photo.
“Haruna!! Don’t move!!”
“Eh? Wasn’t something flying out at us?”
“Just stay still for the next shot! Alright?”
Ughhhhh God dammit!!!
“Haruna, seriously stay still! We’re wasting our money like this!”
“As if I care! It’s fine if we’re having fun, right?!”
“Haruna, it’s just as Ayumu says. Now would be the time to stay still.”
“Eh? … Well, I know that…”
“Alright, let’s all smiiiiile~~.”
I gave my best zombie smile. Haruna gave an arrogant one, Sera a kind one, and Yuu just kept her usual cold-as-ice expression.
“Hueh? Who’s this cute girl here… i-is it me?”
Haruna seemed a bit bashful as she gazed at the screen. Everyone ignored her, and Sera began to write out names on the screen with the pen tool while explaining.
“You can use this to draw on the photos.”
“What kind of magic is this?”
“A-Ahh. That kind of magic.”
No, that’s not magic at all.
Haruna started covering every inch of the close-up photo of me with drawings.
“Oh no! This is pretty fun!”
She drew hearts, or words, and all at an alarming speed.
“You’re doing way too much. Yuu, do you want to try?”
Yuu shook her head. She honestly looked like she wanted to try too…
Like that, we got the photos that were taken and split them amongst ourselves.
There was the one of Haruna sticking her hand up and flashing her teeth at the camera.
There was the one of Sera with her charming smile.
There was the one of me pulling Yuu’s lips left and right and forcing a smile onto her face.
They were all items that I would find hard to throw away.
The ones that were handed to me was the close-up of me, and the one where I had been kicked and looked panicked.
Why did I have to be handed photos that mostly only showed myself?
On the one where I had been kicked, someone had written “naturally born idiot.”
Haruna, these… but before I could finish that thought, Yuu began to firmly tug on my clothes. When I faced her, I saw that Yuu was gazing at the photos that I was holding.
“Could it be that you want these?”
Yuu’s expression was speckled with just a bit of bewilderment, and she nodded lightly.
“Alright, we can split them half and half then.”
I tried to give Yuu the photos that were either mostly of me or the ones where I had been kicked, but for some reason she seemed to want all the ones where I had been kicked.
“I doubt you’d be happy to only have those.”
“Indeed. There’s a meaning here in sharing these.”
Even at Sera’s suggestion, Yuu shook her head. Did she really want these photos that badly?
As she wished, I gave her all the copies of that photo. If she really wanted them, then I had no reason to refuse. The only ones I was left with were the ones that were a close-up of me.
I didn’t manage to get a copy of the one where everyone had been in the picture…
But I was satisfied.
(1) Photo booth. I kept it this way so the next few lines would make sense.