74 – The show must go on!
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“I return, my loyal subjects! Back and stronger than ever!” the wannabe director said while posing dramatically in the doorway.

Jessica couldn’t help but scoff. “Your loyal subjects? Hmph! You mean my loyal subjects! I’m the demon general here! You’re just fodder! An insignificant background character who dies off-screen!”

“Worry not! The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated. The show must go on, therefore I am back!”

“Meh. We made plenty of progress even without you, Rick. You can go back to being exaggeratedly dead.”

The guy let out a dramatic sigh whilst shaking his head. “Is that how you welcome back your beloved director? What did I do to deserve such cruelty?”

“Exist,” Jessica spat out before going back to practicing her dance moves for the finale scene.

Rick blinked. “Whoa, what the heck?” He threw his arms up, upset at her behavior.

Hellen, George, and Erika approached his stunned form, looking apologetic. “Sorry about that, Rick. We’re glad you’re back.”

“Thanks,” he said, smiling at them, before peeking at Jessica again. “But what the heck is up with her? Why does she suddenly hate my guts?”

Erika gave him a sigh before casting a worried glance at Jessica. “Sorry about that… Don’t worry, she doesn’t actually hate you or anything. She’s just not having a good day.”

“Riiight… uh huh. Any idea what’s wrong?”

“Some… family issues, or so she said. I don’t really know the details.”

“I see…” He grunted and shook her head. “Well, she better get her head out of her ass soon, dammit. Acting is one thing, but she’s taking it too far.”

“I’ll… talk to her. Try to get her to calm down,” Erika promised before walking off in Jessica’s direction.

“Alright, good.” Rick nodded. “So, what did I miss while I was gone?”

“Well, the prop team finally finished everything for the castle. We started practicing those scenes now…”

As George caught Rick up, the clubroom fell back into its usual busy state of handling the props, practicing the scenes, and memorizing the script. Some tension between Jessica and Rick remained, but other than a few passive aggressive comments, the two didn’t exchange anything too extreme between each other.

Then suddenly, the doors of the clubroom burst open, revealing an unexpected intruder. All heads turned to look at her.

She looked a bit like an older version of Jessica. She had dark brown hair, in contrast to Jessica’s black hair, sharp eyes, and an evil grin on her Jessica-shaped face. It only took a moment for her hungry eyes to find her target.

“Wha– You?!” Jessica yelled out as their eyes met. “What are you doing here?!”

“Hahahah! We meet again, little sister!” the intruder cackled loudly. “Look at you! It’s been so long!”

The little sister in question let out an annoyed grunt as she stomped her way to her. “What the hell, Olivia? Why would you just barge into my school? Why can’t you just meet me at home like a normal person?!” She threw her arms up in indignation, waving her plastic spear around.

A mix of mischief and understanding flashed in Olivia’s features.

“Oh ho? What is this? Is the mighty Tepes whining about being ambushed? My, my, what a below-average demon general you are!”

Rick could have sworn some dark mist appeared around Jessica’s clenched fists for a second. But it was gone in an instant as she lunged her fake spear forward, stopping just before stabbing Olivia in the face.

The older sister didn’t flinch at all.

“Hah?! Say that again, you welp! I’m the strongest, most feared demon general of them all! I ain’t afraid of a washed-up magical girl!”

The supposed washed up magical girl just cackled even louder, side-stepped Jessica’s spear, and pulled her in a one-armed hug in one swift motion.

“Man, it’s so good to see you, li’l sis! I missed ya.”

Her victim growled at her like an annoyed puppy. “Yeah, yeah, I missed you too, you bitch. No, but seriously, what the heck are you doing here? I thought you were coming in the afternoon?”

“Got onto an earlier bus,” Olivia said with a shrug. “I couldn’t wait to see my little demon of a sister, you know?”

Jessica scoffed at that. “I wonder who’s the real demon here.”

Olivia ignored her comment with a grin.

“And I also really wanted to see you all decked out as Tepes and this was my best chance.” She took a step back to look her little sister up and down. “Looking pretty snazzy, aren’t cha? Exactly the human-terrorizing demon I remember. Beautiful.” She finished her evaluation with a chef’s kiss.

Jessica, on the other hand, narrowed her eyes in suspicion. “Thanks, Ol lady. Now tell me why you’re buttering me up.”

“Hey, I told you not to call me that! That’s so rude!” The older girl put a hand over her chest, face changing into exaggerated shock.

She got an eye roll from her little sister in response. “Uh huh. Get to the point. We’re supposed to be practicing here. We’re busy, unlike a certain jobless sister.”

Olivia shook her head while clicking her tongue a few times. “So impatient…” She then moved closer to her little sister again and leaned in to whisper into her ear. “You see… I talked to the others and…”

Rick watched as Jessica’s expression morphed from annoyance to surprise, and then to sheer disbelief. Even as her elder sister moved away from her again, Jessica just stared at her as if she came from another planet.

“Wha-- Are you serious? That’s just…”

“Completely serious.”

A sigh. “Wasn’t at least one of them totally done with this?”

“Me and Iris convinced them. Don’t worry about it.”

Jessica continued to eye her with suspicion.

“Come on! Won’t this make your job easier?”

After a moment of intense glaring, Jessica growled out, “Fine! I’ll meet up with everyone and we’ll see what we can do. Ugh, you’re impossible…”

“Yay! You’re the bestest little sister ever!” Olivia exclaimed before glomping her sister.

“Ack! Okay, fine! I agreed to your nonsense! Now get the hell out! I’m trying to do some work here!”

“Of course! Good luck, Jess! Looking forward to our evil nefarious meeting!” Olivia said with a grin and a wink before skipping out of the clubroom, leaving everyone staring at her younger sister.

“What are y'all staring at? Get back to work!” she shouted after a moment of pause.

With that, motion resumed in the clubroom. Rick was curious about the secret nefarious plans the two sisters had made, but ultimately decided it was none of his business and continued to ignore the main actress. He noticed Erika and Max talking with her in hushed whispers, however.

He idly wondered why Jessica called her sister a ‘washed-up magical girl’. Knowing her, it was probably some kind of inside joke between them.

Eventually, another interruption reared its head, this time from inside the clubroom.

“Ah, shit…” Helen said while staring at her phone. “Hey! Bad news everyone!” She waited a moment for all the noise to subside. “Melody just texted me. Apparently, it’s worse than she thought and she’s gonna need surgery…”


“Oh crap…”

“Is she okay?”

Helen raised her palm to shush everyone again.

“She says it should be fine but…” Helen sighed. “She won’t be coming back for at least a month or two, so we’re gonna have to find a replacement for her unless we want to delay the play even more…”

Rick couldn’t help but groan. People getting sick was normal, of course. He had only returned today, after being sick himself, after all. But finding a replacement for an important role was always a pain, since they needed to memorize all the scenes and lines. Not to mention, there weren’t that many girls left to play the now vacant Pretty Frost role.

“Can… I play the role?” a voice interrupted his inner monologue. Rick turned around as he noticed the person who said it.

“Max? You wanna play a girl’s role?”

“It’s Devola now,” Max… or rather, Devola stated with more conviction and confidence than Rick had gotten used to from him. “And I am a girl now. I’m transgender.”

Rick blinked.

“Huh? When did that happen?”

“Pretty recently.” Devola shrugged. “So… Can I play Frost?”

Rick pursed his lips and hummed as he swept his eyes over the clubroom. The only other actresses who could take on the role were playing minions just like Devola, so if everyone was alright with it…

“Why are you looking at me?” Lisa asked. “I’m perfectly happy playing a minion. Don’t need a harder role.” The other potential replacements nodded in agreement.

And with that, it was decided.

“Well, alright then. I guess you’re our new Pretty Frost. I’ll get you your lines and you can start practicing right away.”

“Great!” Devola beamed.

Rick noticed Jessica grinning mischievously from the side while Erika and Cody were giving a wry smile.

“Three out of five… not bad,” Jessica said.

“Hmm? What was that?”

“Oh, just an inside joke. Don’t worry about it.”

Jessica’s expression told Rick that he was missing something important, but again, he decided not to care too much about it.