#16 - Like what you sees? - in The Reset
Nikki started feeling better after the tournament’s first day. Even when she thought back to what she guessed was a dream, she didn’t remember a whole lot. Maybe it would all come down to Anger Mouse - the opponent she got the strangest vibe from.
Normally, Nikki loved investigating ghosts and spirits. She was sorta one herself! In the past, her spirit lived in different bodies, she’s experienced life and death, been born and reborn. It’s not a big deal though. Don’t freak out about it. Lower your expectations.
So, if she noticed anything weird with spirits, she’d wanna find out all about it. But not right now. Nikki was too busy trying to figure out what felt so familiar about Boxer Beats. She’d been weirded out and off her game for days.
She couldn’t remember the reset.
Anger Mouse caught her attention before because that’s where her new friend Dawn came from. She was still there, but this time she was awake! Her ghostly tail wagged inside Anger Mouse, causing his mouse tail behind him to sway around embarrassingly.
“WHAT THE HECK?” The loud mouse yelled, covering his tail with his hands. “I’M NOT DOIN’ THAT.” He turned around to make sure no one was touching his tail. “UGH...”
Don Badge gave a playful pose and winked at his friend. “Maybe Anger Mouse. Likes. What he sees.”
“GROSS. YOU’RE LIKE FORTY YEARS OLD.” Anger Mouse stuck out his tongue in disgust. Don was probably closer to his thirties. Either way, that’s too old for anyone to ever find attractive. Or maybe it was when sexual appeal really started to develop. Luckily, fur probably covered every aging animal’s wrinkly old skin. And extra fortunately, that’s not what we’re here to find out!
Nikki noticed... the way Don talked made her feel warm. Despite how weird things were recently, his voice was comforting, familiar... She held a paw to her chest, looking around. “Do I... do I like what I sees??”
No. Impossible. But there was something there, so maybe.
Meanwhile, Dawn was still happily waiting for Nikki to poke around like she did before. She was awake, she was obvious! She could see through Anger Mouse’s body that Nikki was looking right at them. But she wasn’t doing anything.
Dawn thought, maybe Nikki was waiting for her to respond first? She didn’t remember them saying anything about who had to first. And she already knew of the two of them, Nikki was more outgoing. But maybe, since Dawn reset everything, she should be the one to say hello first? What if something went wrong? Dawn kept going back and forth in her mind, she didn’t know what to do!
“HEY! WHAT THE HECK?” Anger Mouse was even more embarrassed - this time his tail curled in between his legs, and it was poking out in front! He looked like a scared dog, but also a little dirty, with his long purple tail pointing out under his belly. It resembled a- well, imagine it yourself.
The chubby mouse blushed and tried to push it down before anyone noticed.
“CUT IT OUT, I DON’T WANNA GET IN TROUBLE,” he whispered loudly to himself. Dawn settled down, becoming more aware of her worrying. But she thought on it more - Nikki first woke her up at night, not during the day. So Dawn patiently waited until the other boxers finished fighting for the night.
The show was ending, and now was around when everything was going to happen! Anger Mouse was by himself, and the audience was getting up to leave. Dawn could see that Nikki was still there, but she didn’t pay attention to Anger Mouse. She was just talking with that pink bird. The nerve!
Nikki’s bird friend stood up, and motioned for Nikki to leave too. Dawn panicked. She really wanted to get her attention, so she raised up Anger Mouse’s hand and started waving at her.
“WHAT NOW?” Anger Mouse glanced his eyes over to his hand, annoyed with how his body was behaving today. “STOP. JUST... STOP IT.” He looked up ahead and saw Nikki, who noticed the purple mouse waving over at her. Anger Mouse panicked, he didn’t mean to look at a stranger and wave hello! “I’M NOT WAVING AT YOU,” he yelled, his hand still waving. He wasn’t waving on purpose, anyway!
Nikki looked around, confused, and pointed to herself. “Me?”
“YEAH. I’M NOT WAVING TO YOU. I’M JUST MOVING MY HAND.” Sure, he didn’t know why his hand was moving, but it was happening! “SO STOP STARING AT ME.” The guard watching over Anger Mouse glared at him - part of what Anger Mouse had to do to stay in good standing with his jail permissions was to work on his behavior. That meant being polite! The mouse-rat huffed, looking annoyed, tired, and defeated, “...SORRY.”
Nikki shrugged and turned her head to ignore him. She had too much going on right now to worry.
“Dude, careful.” Thanksalot nudged her little friend, “That dude’s from gerbil jail.” Thanks took Nikki’s paw and started to rush them out.
“I’M NOT A GERBIL.” Anger Mouse stood up ...and then sat right back down. “I AM A DIFFERENT SPECIES...” His ears flopped down over his face, like a dog that knew it was in trouble.
Dawn peeked up and watched the two leave. That was... different! That wasn’t the same interaction Nikki and Anger Mouse had before. And Nikki didn’t try to meet Dawn! Now she was worried. Something must have went wrong if they didn’t get to meet. But... the way Nikki turned her head and ignored them, maybe she was mad?
Dawn realized, the tournament actually started a few days before Anger Mouse even appeared on stage! Since there were a number of fights planned out, not every boxer could fight on day one. That means Nikki was on her own for a few days. They’ve had plenty of time to try and meet! Then again, Dawn was in Anger Mouse’s body all that time. She could have done more to try and reach Nikki.
Once Anger Mouse’s bed time hit, and he was asleep, Dawn decided she had to leave his body. The mouse had already gone through the whole confusion about why he was twice his size, but he wasn’t losing sleep over it. Dawn wasn’t quite sure what it felt like to Anger when she left his body, so the doggy spirit rushed right out of his stomach, flew through the bars of his cell, and dashed out of jail. She was hoping that she would see Nikki on top of the building where they watched the sunrise together. When she flew up to the top, right where they talked, Nikki wasn’t there. So Dawn waited.
The next day, everyone was walking their wangs into the stadium. The patient dog watched and waited, until finally the wangless tanuki slunched on in.
Slunched. Like... slowly hunched? Whatever, it’s what she was doing.
Dawn excitedly wiggled her stubby little arms and her long wiener-like body. She wanted Nikki to notice her up on the roof!
And she noticed!!
Nikki and Dawn made eye contact. The dog was panting, wiggling around, bouncing up and down, waving excitedly to her like a friendly friend! But maybe she was too excited. So then she calmed down, and politely waved her hand right while looking at Nikki.
But Nikki kept walking in. She didn’t recognize Dawn at all. She figured that was some weird-looking greeter up on the roof. Didn’t even wave a paw at her.
Dawn was heartbroken. What more could she do!? She wasn’t hiding in Anger Mouse’s body, she was being herself here! And she was in the spot where they bonded, and where they talked about visiting together if there was any trouble. But... nothing was happening. Nikki kept on walking.
Dawn sunk her body to the floor, defeated. She did her best, but nothing happened. Instead of thinking something went wrong with the reset, she remembered where Nikki said they could meet. Either on the roof... or in the ring. Dawn gulped. She didn’t want to fight Nikki. She was her only friend. But she was probably upset at her, and Dawn didn’t know why.
Meanwhile, Nikki wasn’t getting déjà vu anymore, it was starting to feel like a regular competition again. Last night was when she would have met Dawn, so now she was seeing things she hadn’t watched before. Now everything was post-reset, so she was living her normal life again.
Dawn didn’t want to do it, but she decided to talk to Nikki and find out why her friend was ignoring her. Nobody likes confrontation, and Dawn wasn’t very old or experienced, so she didn’t know the best way to handle it. She flew down inside the stadium. Nobody was boxing yet, everyone was still getting in their seats. From across the room, Dawn kept looking at Nikki. You’d think a floating, yellow dog-snake thing would catch more attention - but nobody was looking at her!
“Bark! Bark bark!” Dawn barked out, but Nikki ignored it. She flew closer to the boxing ring. “Rrrrrarf!” she growled her voice - not in a mean way, it was just a dog noise. After a while with no attention, she flew right above the boxing ring. “Can you. Even see me!? Pay attention. To me! I’m right here!” Dawn looped around in the air, trying to get as much attention as she could.
But she was a ghost.
Nobody could see her, or hear her. At least, not normal people. Nikki could, and she was about to speak up, but someone else did.
“I can see you?” a nearby audience member stood up.
“Sit down. Not you.” Dawn glared dully at a raccoon stranger. They frowned and sat back down. Put in their place. Embarrassing.
“I can see you, dude...” Thanks leaned over, waving their pink wing at the dog. “My friend here can too,” they nudged Nikki, who was leaning their elbow on the chair’s arm, looking bored.
“Can you two. Come with me.” Dawn requested, eyeing Thanks and the raccoon from earlier. Nikki was too bored to mind not being included. The ghost dog flew out towards the stadium entrance to exit... the stadium. Maybe that shouldn’t be called an entrance since people also leave that way. Or maybe the entrance also featured a specific area to exit? However they did it, they done did. Dawn lead them to the roof to speak privately.
“You two. Can see me?” Dawn tilted her head.
Thanks and the raccoon nodded.
“We’re experienced when it comes to spirits! We can see and sense them,” Thanks nodded. “This is my friend, Cooni,” the pink flapinko bird gestured towards the gloomy-looking raccoon. They were dressed in formal black attire, and had long white hair covering their left eye. Underneath their gloomy exterier was a deep, sensitive intellectual. Aren’t most people smarter than they look on the outside? Do dark clothes project the image of awareness towards the mystery of our own inner shadows? Yes and probably.
“Hi...” the emo-looking raccoon softly spoke. “Is there a problem? Maybe we can help you...” Thanks and Cooni looked to each other with nervous smiles. Neither of them were bold or social - they were used to being around more outgoing friends - like Nikki! Without her, they didn’t quite feel as sure about what they could do.
“Nikki. Your friend...” Dawn pointed her stubby arm and hilariously tiny widdle fingers towards the bird.
“Hey, she’s my friend too...” Cooni corrected her, sounding sad. Like they were saying Cooni didn’t have any friends. Why would anyone think Cooni didn’t have friends? Just because he looked sad and whiny didn’t mean that it made people not want to hang out with him and hear about all the dreary stuff he could say. For instance, when he was trying to convince everyone that Nikki was his friend too. Real good use of your breath and time on the planet there.
“Okay. Both your friends,” Dawn sighed, “Can you ask. Why she is. Ignoring me?” The dog nervously looked to Thanks and Cooni.
“Well, we could...” Thanks started, “but it’s really best to tell people how you feel instead of using other people in the middle. It makes everything messier...”
“That’s right,” Cooni agreed, “if you can’t communicate with your friends, you’re not going to have a good friendship. Let’s just bring Nikki here now.”
“No. No!” Dawn whined, backing away.
“Hey guys, I got bored.” Nikki opened up the door from the roof’s stairway, “What’s happening, who’s the hotdog?”
“I am not. A hot dog.” Dawn bit her lip.
Thanks turned to her tanuki friend, “She thinks you’re ignoring her.”
“I haven’t even met her before,” Nikki responded with unease. Unless she meant when she was waving to everyone on the roof earlier that day.
“You did,” Dawn admitted, stepping forward. “You saw me. I was inside. Anger Mouse’s body. And I waved. To you!”
Nikki went a bit blank, “You took control of Anger Mouse’s body?”
“Only that day,” Dawn nodded. “We also met. Earlier too, and. I sent you. Back to start. Of Boxer Beats. With a reset!”
Nikki didn’t quite get that part. “I’m... sorry?”
“Did you. Experience it twice? The first day? Of competition?” Dawn leaned into her friend, as if she knew something that Nikki didn’t. “You were sent. Back to. The first day. You lived it... Two times.”
“You... can do that?” Nikki questioned - it would explain her déjà vu.
“Yes,” Dawn barked excitedly, “I can. I’ll do again. Please watch!”
Nikki, Thanks, and Cooni all stared as Dawn raised herself into the air.