Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Ow! (01/07/10)
TITLE: She Danced Alone
By Peter Stone
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That’s when the Japanese harajuku girl came in. Petite yet knockout gorgeous in that dark purple white accented Gothic Lolita outfit with knee high boots. Her glossy black hair framed a doll-like heart-shaped face. I watched, mesmerised, as she came over to the dance floor. She was so close that I could have reached out and touched her.
She began to dance, seemingly oblivious that she danced alone. However, it was the way she danced that caught my attention. Her movements were unnatural, almost mechanical; yet at the same time eerie.
Becoming aware of her awkward, uncoordinated dance steps, those around her moved quietly away. Meanwhile, several young men with outlandish hairstyles surrounded her, gawking as though she was an exhibit at a freak show.
“Henna no,” one snarled. She’s weird.
“Okashi na,” said another. She’s strange.
“Baka da yo!” the third affirmed. She’s an idiot!
On impulse, I slid off my stool. Slipping between them, I took the girl’s hand and led her towards the exit.
“Doishite?” Why? she asked, confused.
“Those guys were mocking you,” I stammered in broken Japanese.
“You are saving me?” She was apparently amused by my gesture.
“I guess so.”
“Ja, arigato.” In that case, thank you.
We made our way to a coffee house two floors up. I picked the seat facing the window so I could see Tokyo’s neon illuminated buildings outside. She sat opposite with her back to the window.
The floor, no, the entire building, began to sway from side to side, gently at first, then with increasing intensity. Did they slip something into my juice?
“Earthquake!” the girl exclaimed as she leapt up to take my hand.
I thought she would lead me to the stairs, a pointless gesture as we would never make it. However, she pulled me straight for the single pane window overlooking the street below.
I tried to protest, but her slim hands grabbed my upper arms in a vice like grip and with deliberate intent, she flung herself backwards through the window, dragging me after her.
Down we plummeted, surrounded by shards of sparkling glass refracting neon light.
She held me tightly as we plunged down, her wide eyes locked on mine. I wished I could switch places with her, that I could somehow break her fall and save her.
Yet just before impact, she drew her knees and lower legs beneath me and bent her arms. Then as we impacted the unforgiving pavement, she used her arms and legs like shock absorbers to cushion my fall.
Due to her efforts, instead of dying instantly, I landed on top of her, receiving only light bruises. Her arms and legs collapsed upon concrete shattered by her fall.
The ground still pitched and yawed beneath us, but I had eyes only for the nameless girl who had died saving me. I knew I should make for the nearest open space, but could not tear myself from her.
Suddenly, her dark eyes snapped open.
“Are you okay?” I asked incredulously.
“Ow?” she said, eyes sparkling humorously.
“Ow?! How can you be alive?” I stammered. Her fall had broken the sidewalk!
Rolling me off her, the girl regained her feet and dragged me by the hand towards a nearby park, limping badly. The ground continued heaving back and forth as glass, wood and broken masonry from surrounding buildings bombarded the street about us.
“Run!” she ordered.
“Who, or what are you?” I gasped.
“An artificial person, a prototype,” she said.
“Doishite - why did you risk yourself to save me? You could have been destroyed,” I panted as we ran.
“Because you treated me as a person - no one has done that before.”
We reached the relative safety of the park and I collapsed to regain my breath. She sat beside me with some difficulty, due to her damaged left leg.
“I never caught your name,” I said.
“It suits you,” I said, smiling. Eiko was Japanese for grace, a character trait she had in abundance.
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