I can’t believe Miki pulled me into this. It's already the middle of the school year and now we have to take part in this tournament. Playing small games to satisfy Miki’s desire to become more social was alright but now I have to sacrifice my off days into this tournament rather than studying was horrifying. But Miki was making her “please do this last thing for me” face every time and pulling me into her stupidity.
We were in the old building behind our school, the one that was crumbling to the ground. It had three floors, each floor representing three stages of the games. First floor had 10 games, the easy level, the second floor had another 10 games, medium level, and the third floor had 10 games, hard level. I decided to lose the first level so we could be disqualified.
Miki and I met at the entrance of our short cut and walked towards the building together. “Ok so the plan is we win this thing and I climb the social ladder to popularity” Miki went on and on about her social life and the games.
“Lets just have fun,” it was out of character for me but I had to play along so I could get us out of there.
“Let's make a promise. Promise me you will try your best to make sure I win. Please.” She asked with her big puppy eyes.
“OK, anything for you.” i gave in and gave her a hug
We reached the entrance of the building but didn’t go in because the door was locked and everyone was just waiting outside. Most were whispering about the games being canceled and the president being expelled but the whispers some died out when the president appeared.
“The games shall begin, all previous members will be the dealer and all of you,” he pointed at all the new members “...shall play each game and each level. Once you start you can not back out until we say so.”
That was very concerning to me, this would interfere with my plans. The president opened the lock and gestured us to go inside. The lights came on after he closed the door behind him. There were tables placed in rows and each had a number on it. They had placed a fish bowl at the far right of the entrance and we all took turns to get our chits and find our table. Miki and I were on separate tables, we were a team but we played separately, another hindrance to my plan.
Miki met me before I went to my table, “Play well, we need to win ok.” and then she was gone.
“Play well, what an idiot, I’m trying to save her but she wants to play well” I murmured under my breath.
The first level games were easy but I took as much as I could to finish the first game. Miki on the other hand went from table to table winning each game. She had a grin on her face when she passed me for her 6th table. She gave me a thumbs up while passing me and I smiled just shyly. I finished the game winning it which wasn’t my intention but i also had to protect Miki. Once the game was over I headed to the washroom to cool down and come up with a new strategy. After a few minutes of thinking I had a flawed plan that was based on Miki losing but I had something.
I was about to leave when I heard laughing voices coming my way and for some absurd reason I hid in one of the stalls. One of the laughing voices was of Miki.
“So have you decided?” It was one of the seniors.
“I have,” Miki replied.
“What have you decided then”
“I’ll go for it, I’ll win this tournament”
“At the cost of your friendship?”
“Here take this, it's the list of all the easy games. Once you win you can be a part of our group permanently and then you can meet the real president if you win the last game against him. None of us has ever seen him, he could literally be anyone. We played our finals games with him but we lost so we couldn't figure out who he was..”
“What do you mean, it's the guy out there, the president?”
“No, he’s the vice president. The president plays the last game with the winner of the tournament”
They keep talking with Miki about her joining their group after she wins. I couldn’t believe my ears, my friend, the girl I had known since we were babies would abandon me for a club and little popularity. They kept talking until we heard a loud bang.
“Break is over. Let's go,” someone said and then they all went out giggling.
I came out of the stall and minutes later I walked out as well. I saw Miki walk over to a table and I followed her. She looked at me but there was no excitement in her eyes or even happiness. But there was something else, it was eagerness, she was probably eager to win against me.
“So how many games are you done with” she asked, it wasn’t exactly a question it was more like a comment.
“Just one, but I’m thinking of putting my all into this now”
“Yeah. For you, you wanted this so much so I decided to give it my all” I said to her in my same not worried tone.
Miki lost this game but we went on and took part in separate games, each winning them one at a time. We were the first two to qualify for level 2, where Miki won 9 out of 10 games and I won all of them. It wasn’t hard for me, they were all math based and logical. Miki on the other hand relied on luck. We went from game to game and each time she looked more frustrated. At the end of level 2 we were given a break again. I heard Miki talking to the other members and decided to investigate again. It was already midnight and I had no idea how long this would continue but I had to understand why Miki was doing this.
I found them at the far corner of the second floor, I hid in one of the dark corners. Miki was talking about me and how I decided to ruin her chances of being popular. She told them about my secrets that she promised to take to her grave. She laughed like a whole different person, no longer the warm and friendly girl but someone with a sinister plan. One of them told Miki that the level 3 games were rigged and they made sure I would lose. Miki was excited to hear this, the same excitement I used to see when she used to tell me the newest gossip. A loud bang signaled the end of the break and the beginning of the third level. We all walked up to the third floor even those who lost their games. Those who lost looked devastated more like defeated, we weren’t that many, maybe a total of 16 people.
On the third floor was the president or to be accurate the vice president posing as the president. He divided us into two groups and pointed us to two separate tables and then explained the new game. Miki and I were separated again.
“Good Luck” Miki said with a smile that should have been genuine but wasn’t.
I turned around and headed to my table without a response. The game was a simple poker game with nothing out of the order. Only our dealer was one of the member’s Miki was talking to. I kept a close eye on her and the way she was dealing the cards. We had 3 rounds and whoever wins 2 out of 3 rounds proceeds. Since I knew the dealer would do something, I kept my eyes on her hand. I saw her putting in extra cards and taking out some cards. It was a swift motion where her hands added and removed cards, for those who have no experience with dealing cards would never have noticed it but I could tell. And so could the vice president because he came and pulled her from the table and dealt the cards himself. He dealt the cards fairly and I won all three rounds. Poker wasn’t hard when you understood the dealer’s ways. My game was done quicker than I thought and I decided to watch Miki. She was struggling to win her second game but she was being aided by her new friends who supplied her with the winning moves. The vice president declared her the winner and asked Miki and I to move to the side. The rest of the participants and the members were moved to the floor below.
“What game would you two prefer to play?” the vice president asked in a low but heavy voice.
“Isn’t the president going to play with us?” Miki asked slyly, pointing at the vice president.
“You will be playing with the president,” he said nothing more.
“Let's playGo fish” I voiced my opinion.
“Are you alright with that?” he pointed at Miki who agreed.
The cards were set for us and the rules were explained. We both had seven cards and Miki started the game.
“Do you want to win?” Miki asked.
“Not particularly” the game continued. I picked a card from the pond than Miki and this continued.
“Are we still friends?” I asked.
“Of course, why would we not?”
“You seem to be distant from me”
“That's in your head, Kyoko.”
“Than why did those girls help you cheat”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about”
Miki was fishing from the pond more and more and I was taking most of her cards. She was sweating half way through the game and I was calm.
“You don't want some proof of that?” I pulled out my phone and gave it to her, it showed a picture of her cheating. She slammed her cards on the table and looked at me all red and flustered.
“This is my chance and you are ruining it for me. Why can’t I have one thing for myself? It's always what Kyoko wants, what Kyoko needs. Never what I want. So yeah I cheated.”
“But you signed me up. I didn’t even want this”
“That was the start of my plan to get you into this and then make you my slave. The winner of the tournament can pick any loser to become their slave. But no, you have to go ahead and try to win. You broke our promise.”
“You broke our friendship, Got any queens” she looked at her cards and handed me 3 queens.
I showed her my cards and the vice president showed both of our cards. “I declare Kyoko as the winner,” he said.
“But...but” Miki was at a loss for words.
“Let me introduce you to the president,” the Vice president stepped back as if someone was going to come out but no one came.
“Where…where is he?” Miki asked, still in shock.
“She is right in front of you” he pointed at me.
“I am president of the PLUNGE, Miki. I became president last year when the previous president offered me this position. You’ve been playing with the president the whole time.” I told her adding more to her shock. “I declare you and your helpers banished from this club, and if anything bout this club activities is revealed to the general student body you and your helpers shall be expelled”
“You can’t do that. Your not the principle of this school”
“No, I’m not but my dad bought the school just before I applied so technically I own it. And what I say goes.”
“Please..” she got down to her knees and begged me to become her friend again.
“Be gone. We will never be friends again”
I saw as she was dragged out and after the break I saw her alone, with a friend all the time. The next three years while I flourished she stayed in a dark corner and we never spoke again. I saw her sink because she was selfish.
After years when I have succeeded I still think of her and how her betrayal made me never trust anyone ever again. I found out she went to a local university and became an employee at a small company I had dad acquire. She looks better now, she has friends and she looks happy.