Midnight learnt that weapons kill through experience.
|The thundering claps roared over my head and flooded my ears ten meters ahead of me. In pattering steps, my servant and I stumbled past the crowd just to catch a glimpse between two tall adults’ legs the moment a street performer pull a rabbit out of his hat – a magic show. I clutched onto my childhood companion, Shiny, to press onto my fast-beating heart, inside it hosted a wonder of whether fairy-tale magic really existed.
Leanne held onto my elbow when I intended to peep on further. The rabbit part was about to reach. I struggled within her grip, strong servant, and decided to give up venturing in myself. If I failed to watch this moment again, then Shiny would watch it for me. I held out Shiny and pointed it at the performer’s hat, making sure it had a clear view of what happens next. And it watched ever silently with its muzzle shining under the strong sunlight until the whole show was over.
Father said that every child, especially girls, ought to have a childhood companion to watch over their growth. Elizabeth has Teddy, Victoria has Squeaky, and Rosaria has Bunny, while I have Shiny. Elizabeth and the others like to have tea party with their companion. They invite each other over to their back-yard gardens but never invited Shiny. I couldn’t really understand the reason behind it. Indeed, Shiny’s appearance looks different from Teddy, Squeaky and Bunny. It has no eyes, no nose, no ears and no mouth. It also has no fluffy cotton stuffed into it; if it does, father said there will be a mess of its inner mechanism and affects its accuracy when I intend to use it in the future. It is not a soft toy, but a pistol. However, despite being alienated by the other girls, I still love Shiny the best. It was the finest pistol I had ever touched since birth, able to shoot with best accuracy and speed when loaded with a cartridge. Moreover, Leanne, my personal servant was more than willing to play games with me and was more fun than those girls. She knows clearly what I like and what I dislike, a brilliant playmate. I clutched onto Leanne’s grip to feel her body heat radiating inside my palms. The show was over. Leanne promised to have picnic session with me after shooting lessons.
“Come on, Leanne. What’s fun there is in having picnic in the garden? There’s no adventure, no magical music behind the thick leaves and no shadows hiding behind branches.” I grunted and swung Shiny around my pointer in the trigger guard.
Leanne gave a low sigh and stopped my finger, trying not to lose her manners even during father’s and mother’s absence. “Princess, a princess does not grunt…”
Princess, as in the Princess of Business Corporate, all thanks to father’s effort for establishing out family corporate, Silver Weaponry Co.
“I’m not a real princess anyway. Besides that, father can’t hear me speaking now,” I snorted, another displeasing sound. Shiny tugged behind my dress agreed with me.
Leanne showed a grim smile but her eyes were not smiling and were rather black under her fringes. Her veins twitched. “Okay! Okay! A-hem,” getting her mad was never a wise move, “May I please have the picnic in the forest? It is a place where imagination for fantasy can be vast. I would love it.”
She had agreed but with one condition – Shiny must be loaded.
I breathed in the green air on the landing of the picnic mat. The grass and fallen leaves swooshed high and joined the butterflies. One of them landed on a Squadle’s bushy tail camouflaging on a tree trunk. This demon was a commoner in my mini forest, a piece of demon-rich land included within my mansion’s compound. I objected the idea when father wanted to demolish this forest for my safety because I believed that the demons here are tame enough to even harm a bird. One lone baby rabbit popped out when he smelled carrot juice in out basket, ‘peace’ Leanne suggested, but it only lured the memory of magic show out of my mind. I felt Shiny bulging behind me. It must have remembered that moment too.
“Ah, should have checked inside the jam. Princess, can you wait here while Leanne runs back to the house to fetch a new bottle of jam?” I waved my hand as a gesture of ‘go’ acting as discipline as possible. I needed Leanne off to catch this rabbit.
“Please don’t do anything stupid,” the last word sounded like a squeak as she clasped over her mouth. “Sorry, Princess, I will be more careful of my words! Princess?”
I scurried off behind the bushes with a better fly net before Leanne really left. The rabbit had to be my pet so that I can learn magic. If the street performers could do it, I can too!
To the left, to the right, to the left it hopped and oh! How could the root trip me? I had to take off these doll shoes. Wait for me, rabbit!
There it was, the rabbit, 20 meters ahead, 005o relative bearing from me. No obstacles hindering my sight with a large root as my hiding. The wind velocity was a little large but was in no challenge for my Shiny. It was a clear field to shoot. I unbuckled Shiny and aimed. If my legs were too slow for the rabbit, then Shiny would catch up with it, just like at the magic show, Shiny would do it in my place – catch the rabbit.
I crawled over to make sure the grass covered my approach. The rabbit stayed at its place, almost motionless. Silently, the butterfly net hovered over the lying rabbit. It red eyes stared at me when I closed the net.
“Leanne! Leanne! I got a rabbit! I can learn magic now! Leanne!” But my servant’s horrified eyes stoned me. I imitated her and gazed along the long trail of red liquid still drooling over my bare feet. My footprints were all over the place. “I am sorry for being bare-footed. I know a ‘Princess’ would never walk bare-footed,” I pressed the net over her hands and assured, “Here, hold the rabbit first. I’ll go back to fetch my shoes.” A strong familiar grip pulled my wrist, drew me back and hugged me. My breath was cut off for a second and then drops of hot tears plummeted onto my shoulder. “Leanne?”
“The rabbit is dead.”
“No it is not. Look! Its eyes are still so big. I’m going to build a house for it, wash it clean and feed it. By the time it is clean, I can take father’s hat and play magic show in this mansion! There is no need for us to go out to watch anymore. I can perform,” I assured, the rabbit still swinging left and right in the net as I struggled to free myself. “Look!”
“It is dead, Princess. You have never seen death before but I can assure you that it is dead.” The servant’s words chilled my blood. “It is dead.”
If it was dead, then Shiny killed it, I killed it. Was it possible? “No! It is not dead. I’m going to keep it as a pet and name it Bunny and you will help me, servant!” I ordered with a lump in my throat.
I bathed it, groomed it, and gave it a cage. And I fed it. But Bunny just lay there, doing nothing. Shooting lessons were done in a shooting ground with targets. I was taught the types of weapons, the advantages of each weapon in different battle ground and the skills to handle vast types of weapons. The way of shooting was taught, but the damage of shooting was not taught. Never had I have an idea that pulling the trigger at a life could take it away in a breeze. And so I never admitted that Bunny was gone, even though I knew the truth…
Two days since I caged it, Bunny was still lying in the same position, same pose. The food two days ago was still there, untouched. The drinking water was covered with dust. I put it into father’s hat but it did not disappear. I pulled it out again, but it did not kick or struggle. Bunny just stared through me with its ghostly red eyes. Nothing was like how the magic was supposed to be. I carried Bunny on my lap and combed its fur. Its muscles were hard and frozen. I gave my pet who was never mine when alive a good-bye-kiss before I agreed to bury it.
Never let me touch Shiny again. Never teach me white-lies about the wonders of weapons again. I refused to accept the title. I did not want to be the Princess of the Cold-blood-manufacturing Company. For the first time in my memory, I was scolded by father for insulting weapons. Never remind me my blood-lusting self again. I thought I finally understood why the girls didn’t want to play with Shiny. I locked myself in the room, shutting even Leanne out.
“Princess Midnight, this is Leanne. I’ve brought you dinner. I would not wait for your replies because I understand that Princess has no mood for us now. I’ll leave the tray at your door.”
I licked my dry lips and climbed down of the bed. The effect of lying for the whole day was dreadful to the head. How did this feel like for the dead when they have to lie down forever? Maybe the sound of my shoulder collapsing at the door was a little loud, it caught Leanne’s attention. “Princess, good morning,” a hint of smile leaked from her voice. Although my head was heavy, I could still differentiate day and night.
She continued, sounded muffled, more like mumbling to herself over the door, “Midnight, do you still remember the stories of my past as a forced-beggar I told you?”
Of course I remembered… I enjoyed listening to her adventures especially the part how she escaped from her foster family and ended up as my servant.
“Then I’m sure you remember how those people treated me with an umbrella,” Leanne stressed distastefully on the word ‘those people’ every time she spoke of her foster parents. Not only they forced her to beg for the family, they abused her with every excuse they could use.
“Umbrella is a very useful tool to humans. It shelters us from rain and shine. However, umbrella can also be changed into a dreadful weapon. Its metal sharp end can be misused as a giant nail; its metal skeleton could be used as a cane; while its heavy handle can be used equivalent to a baseball bat.”
“It hurts, doesn’t it?” I squirmed behind the door and heard a faint laugh on the other side.
“It does hurts,” Leanne replied, “Therefore, the same tool could be used to protect and to damage. The same goes Shiny. Although it can kill, it also can save lives. It wasn’t entirely your fault for Bunny’s death. The adults just did not tell you the damage afflicted by it for fear that you may act like that.”
How can Shiny save lives? It is a pistol.
“Discover how can Shiny save lives by yourself.” Leanne’s answering for my unvoiced question startled me. “All these are part of learning. It doesn’t matter whether you understand the topic fully now,” Leanne continued. The thud sound of my unlocking door startled myself. Pushing the door open ever slowly, I bathed in the corridor light and came out like a nocturnal animal coming out in the wrong time. And Leanne’s warm hug greeted me before I stumbled over my dinner. Shiny was still with her waiting for me to grip it back into my care.