“Today’s the day I change, '' I announced to my best friend as we took a shortcut through the woods behind our high school. We both applied for the same school and I never believed I could get into such a prestigious place but I got in. If anyone saw the results they would know I could have easily lost my position by 1 mark. Kyoko on the other hand was the topper.
“What are you talking about Miki?” She was puzzled by my announcement. But i couldn’t blame her, although she was a topper she was clueless about the special clubs and the after school events sophomore take part in.
We were almost at the clearing and had 30 minutes before the school gate would close. Kyoko walked faster nearer the clearing, her long black hair moved with the light breeze. I had chopped my hair shorter this year, just till my shoulder. I wanted to have a new start and the first step was changing the way I looked.
“The student clubs, we are joining them and our first priority is the PLUNGE. I heard it's the best club.”
“I’m not into it, I have 3 years left before I could get into a good university and I’m not risking it for a stupid club.”
“Come on,” I pleaded, making my voice higher which she hates and then made my cute ‘I love you so much if you do this with me’ face, which she can’t resist.
“Fine, but if I don’t like it I’m leaving” she gave in, and it didn’t even take that much effort. We walked the rest of the way talking about random things like our lunch and what university I would apply to. But as soon as we got to the school gate we saw the sign up stalls for all the clubs.
I dragged Kyoko to every stall. There was a comic club who planned all the school events and parties, then a book club where Kyoko stood for 10 minutes talking about all the new academic books. I had to pull her away from there because the conversation wasn’t ending. Then there were different sports clubs segregated by gender, music club; the stalls were filled with instruments old and new, drama club who had put on a small self produced play for every one. And finally the most popular club, PLUNGE.
The stall for PLUNGE was dark, the club was so secret that no one knew what their purpose or function was. I bolted for their stall and pulled Kyoko with me. At the stall there was no one, not a single soul, but they did leave a note.
Sign up here if you dare. You will be contacted in a week if you
are selected. Good luck.
I signed up both of us even though Kyoko protested. Once that was done and a little smile formed on my face while Kyoko looked seriously nervous. I didn’t take her nervousness seriously since she always gets nervous with change. I locked arms with her and we walked to class in silence. The entire week I hardly saw Kyoko, she was either in class studying or in the library. I took this opportunity to find more about PLUNGE but there was hardly any talk about it. No one knew the club or who the members were. A week went by like this and it was the time when the clubs sent out their new members list. All the lists were pasted on the notice board on each floor.
“Kyoko lets go, the lists are up.” I stood behind her after the class ended, she was still studying so I poked her until she had no choice but to go with me. We checked the boards but PLUNGE’S list wasn’t there. My heart sank and all hope was lost for me, Kyoko had her arms around me to comfort me but I could sense her relief.
“You could try for it again next year” Kyoko tried to console me but it wasn’t working, my social life was as good as dead now.
We were almost inside our class when I looked up, “There’s no point to it now…” my eyes landed on a black envelope on my desk and on Kyoko’s desk. I slowly picked it up, it had my name in it at the back, I tore through the paper until I reached the actual letter.
You are selected. Meeting after school, venue: PLUNGE club room.
That all the letter said. I looked at Kyoko and she still had her envelope in her hand so I did what a friend would do, I opened her letter for her.
You are selected. Meeting after school, venue: PLUNGE club room.
“We got in, we got in!!!” I did my little happy dance around Kyoko and then gave her a tight hug.
After school we headed for the club room, at night our school was a haunted house, no sound and not a soul around. Inside the club room was just a small table, the room was a square and could probably only fit about 10 people at a time. A dark figure came from behind and handed up two blind folds, it didn’t say a thing. Kyoko and I both hesitated for a bit but then obeyed and placed the blind folds on our eyes. It took us by our arms and led us somewhere. We walked for what felt like hours and this person wasn’t even stopping.
Finally when we did stop we heard chants, they weren’t loud at first but got louder slowly as if they were coming towards us from all directions. They stopped suddenly when the chants were just a little further away from us.
“Welcome. You may take off your blind folds,” we did as we were instructed. The sudden light blinded me for a few seconds but then everyone came into focus and I could see some seniors and some batch mates of ours standing all around us. “Our club and its activities remain a secret for the general student body but the higher ups are aware of our work but they too have no say in what we do.”
I don’t know how but for some reason the one who was speaking went silent and looked at me. I looked at Kyoko who was also staring at me, she pointed at my hand which was raised as if i had a question. “Yes, you. What is it?”
“Umm.... what is...umm… this club actually about” I words took time forming in my mouth.
“We play games,” I was relieved and disappointed with the answer but then he continued “Game of hands. We make bets and the loser has to abide by the bet. Rule 1, no one outside this club is to know about this club. Rule 2, once a bet is placed the game will not end until there is a clear winner. Rule 3, if you dare to tell the higher ups or the police then your fate is in your own hands. Rule 4, break these rules and there is telling what will become of you. Games begin tomorrow and remember to play till your heart's content.”
We were shown out of this place back to the school gate. This was a large area behind the school which the club used as a games arena. I can’t believe I never noticed this place, it's huge but also crumbling.
“What did they mean by 'Game of hands'?” I was curious the whole time but I couldn't ask them again.
“That means we have to gamble, it's a gambling club. I told you this was a bad idea” Kyoko was whining before we even got a chance to try.
“They're just games. We play when we like and then leave when we like. It's not compulsory to play all day every day.”
The next whole week we both spent playing some small games with easy bets like throwing water on some one or granting the winners one wish, easy things. Things became hard when we reached the middle of the school year.
Now we were divided, we had to play for ourselves and no one was a friend. It's a good thing Kyoko was with me, even if we had to play against each other at least she was here. It was the start of the PLUNGE tournament, 10 games and 16 players, with the winner getting a prize and the loser losing everything they hold dear.
--TO BE CONTINUED--