Danny faded in and out of consciousness, his opponents legs wrapped around his neck, forcing his airway shut. It was his final match of the season, and while there was no hope to make the state championship, Coach Davis was pushing everyone to go out with a win. However, Danny felt that this fight had been determined, and there was no use in keeping the already lengthy showdown in continuation.
"Daniel Tony Nash," he heard shouted from the bleachers. "The last match of your senior year and you're gonna lose to this girl?! Grow a pair, kid!" His uncle Luke did always have a way with motivation.
Danny gripped onto his opponents ankle, attempting to peel the heavyweight's calf from his throat. The hold was too solid; it wouldn't budge. He reached his arms for anything else to grab onto, searching to reverse his position. Nothing. He was locked in for sure, and he realized the only hope to release the boys trap was to outlast him until he tired out.
This was easier said than done, however, Danny had been in the submission hold for a good while, and knew the pain the boy was experiencing in his legs would have to become unbearable eventually, but he didn't have that kind of time. Any sign of the grip loosening would have to be taken as his opportunity to escape. He stared down his opponent through half closed eyelids, fighting away the sleep creeping in. His eyes became heavier and heavier, until finally Danny accepted his uncle's criticism.
Quickly, the other teen took a deep breath and squinted his eyes, spending his last bit of energy. Danny felt the calves around his neck loosen ever so slightly and flung his hands around the noose of legs. He forcefully tore the boys ankles apart, and gasped for a reviving breath as he rolled himself onto his opponent's chest pulling his already pained leg past his head.
Luke and coach Davis watched from the sidelines as the boy tapped into submission and he and Danny shook hands. "One helluva boy right there. Not the quickest but he doesn't go down. Sturdy as a rock," the coach praised, patting Luke's arm with the back of his hand, clearly proud of his work on the teenager. "Couldn't have said it better myself," Luke agreed, smiling and staring at the victor.
The ride home was rewarding. He sat in the passenger sporting his end of season hoodie and blue jeans while Luke praised him and even stopped to buy the boy an icecream. An almost childish recompense but Danny didn't argue. "I haven't seen a match like that since me and your dad sparred back in high school!"
Danny froze, and Luke instantly regretted bringing up his father. It always made the boy curious. "Do you wonder why he did it," he asked, "Like, why would he just up and end it?" Luke sighed. "Sometimes, yeah. But in the end I always think it's pretty obvious. Since your mom didn't make it, he was left with just himself and a baby." Danny looked towards the floorboard and Luke read his thoughts. "But I'm sure if he knew who that little boy would grow up to be, he wouldn't have missed it for the world," he reassured. Danny smiled at him, but wasn't convinced. When it came to sympathy, Luke was almost robotic, as if he was expected to say the things he did. Nevertheless, he had taken care of Danny his whole life, and the boy knew he cared for him.
They reached home and made their way inside. The floor of the living room was cluttered with boxes from the recent moving in. It was a frequent event, the two relocating, and when asked why Luke would state that he enjoyed the change. They had lived all over Hodgeburro, just keeping careful to stay within Danny's school district.
"When I head out tonight I want you to try and get some of this stuff put up, or at least your room, Kay," Luke asked, his polite way of demanding. Danny sighed, tired from his match, but nodded slowly. "Thanks," Luke said, not seeming to notice, and made his way upstairs to his room to change. He was an electrician, and normally left around sundown every night. Danny had never heard of someone in the field with such late hours but as Luke put it, "ya never know when your razor'll stop mid-shave, and that's the crisis I was born to prevent."
Danny began to unpack a box, rustling through old video games and photographs of him and Luke. He pushed the box to the side and opened another, this one with some old cables, a toaster, and a desk lamp. He had just torn open the bed sheets when Luke reentered the room, dressed in his navy blue work suit, equipped with his fully loaded tool belt.
"So I was thinking, unless you'd rather go to school, maybe tomorrow I could take you to check out an old spot me and your dad used to hang around." Danny's eyes lit up a bit but he presented more confusion than excitement. "Why now? Why haven't you shown me before," he asked. "Well," Luke stumbled over the sentence as if he wasn't sure how to answer it. "You're about to graduate, so I figure you're old enough to understand it, to really get what makes it so special." It made enough sense.
Finally, Luke drove out in his utility van, barreling down the street loud enough for everyone to hear him. Danny brought boxes upstairs to make it look as if he had attempted to make progress in unpacking, then brought the lamp to his new room. It was by far the most space he had ever been given for himself, but over time he had learned not to get used to where he lived.
He reached in, feeling the wall for a light switch. As he came in contact with it he instantly remembered that Luke was supposed to replace his light bulb before he left. He fumbled through the darkness until he reached his bed, and from there he felt for his nightstand, which, before stumbling out to retrieve his bedspread, he placed the lamp on.
He returned to the room and began to equip his bed with a sheet, the lamp illuminating the way. He began to become hot as he spread his cover onto the mattress, which made sense. They had yet to acquire air conditioning for the new house, and it was already warm outside due to the spring.
He finished with his covers and threw himself onto the bed, now sweating. It shouldn't be this hot, he thought. He tugged at his hoodie as he looked around for the cause, not seeing anything that it could possibly be. He opened the closet predicting it could be in there that the heat was emitting from. He strained his eyes to see into the space, but the lamp light didn't quite reach the opening. Suddenly it hit him. He never turned on the lamp.
He looked back at the nightstand where the lamp sat, sure enough, shining brightly. Danny didn't believe in ghosts, but even this was bit hard for him to explain. He crept his way to the lamp and flipped the switch back and forth. It didn't blink. Finally he decided the light had lived it's usefulness away, and nothing more. He tugged on the wire to release it from the outlet, however, the end pulled toward him with ease, for he never plugged it in.
Suddenly the lamp began to shake vigorously, rocking on the nightstand. Danny quickly backed towards the wall behind him, opposite to the door. It was unbearably hot, and the boy was almost completely converted into a paranormal believer by now.
The lamp teetered to the edge of the nightstand and flopped onto the floor, the bulb shattering on the ground. As anyone would, Danny expected the room to go dark, however, the light remained, but not as a ball of light, but instead glowed to a brightness that filled the room.
This was enough for the boy. He yelled and charged across the room towards the door, sweat pouring down his face. He flung open the exit, the knob burning his hand. He stopped in his tracks. Before him stood a man, with short, nearly buzzed ember red hair and matching eyes. He wore torn blue jeans and a black sleeveless t shirt, his arms were average sized, but covered in burns and scars. Behind him the hallway was engulfed with flames and the heat poured into the room."Sup," he said, calmly, which strangely enough, added to the terror if the scene.
In his head Danny screamed once more, but in reality he stayed silent, his mouth opened. He made the attempt to scurry backwards away from the man and the flames, but tripped in his anxiousness.
Bracing himself for impact, Danny closed his eyes. Surprising enough, instead of the wooden flooring, he landed in someone's arms. He opened his eyes. Bent over him was a man with bleach blonde hair that shagged, unkempt, down to his brow. His hazel eyes shined to match with his white t shirt.
"Little jumpy, huh kid," he asked jokingly, a playful smirk on his jaw. Danny tried to wiggle free of the man but he grasped onto his arms, preventing any attempt at escape.
From outside, sirens penetrated the walls. "Fire department? Really?" The man scowled at the one in the hall. "Guess I gotta little carried away," the other shrugged, and walked towards the two in the room, shutting and locking the door behind him.
"Let's wrap things up here," he ordered, reaching a hand towards Danny's face. They're going to kill me, the boy thought. He struggled in the blonde's arms, fighting for his life until, finally, he slipped free.
"Woah, chill out kid," he yelled, running after the boy through the room, his partner chuckling behind him. He caught a grip on Danny's shoulder and whirled him around, slamming him back first into the wall. "Easy now," the red head warned, "Don't wanna damage the merchandise do we?" The other crooked his mouth to one side, considering what he was just told. "Wouldn't dream of it" he agreed sarcastically. From downstairs there was a loud slam, undoubtedly the fire squad. "Good, let's get out of here," said the first, putting a hand onto his partners shoulder.
The squad of firefighters charged the house, avoiding pieces of burning boxes and furniture. They carefully made their way up the inflamed stairs, fighting to reach the boy reported to be in the vicinity. They reached an upstairs bedroom and forced the door through.
The room was empty, excepting a freshly made bed, and an old, broken desk lamp shattered on the floor.