Twinfinity: The Arena

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
Tommy Leighton has been having nightmares. His dreams have been plaguing his sleep, but they also plague him when he’s awake because the content of his dreams is so horrifying to him that he can’t just let them go. Blowing them off isn’t an option because his dreams always come true, and the dreams he’s been having lately are about his twin sister—only she isn’t the same in his dreams as she is in reality. In his dreams she’s a tattooed warrior whose blades are sharp and her skill is unmatched by her foes. Most of the time. In one of the dreams he has she loses and the price for that loss is her life. He has time to figure out how to fix it, but he has no idea how to do that because Whitney, in real life, is blind and deaf, and he can’t imagine how it’s even possible for her to swing a sword the way she does in his dreams.

Submitted: June 01, 2014

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Submitted: June 01, 2014

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TWINFINITY

THE ARENA

 

A novella by Chris Podhola

5/21/2014

 

 

 

Tommy Leighton has been having nightmares.  His dreams have been plaguing his sleep, but they also plague him when he’s awake because the content of his dreams is so horrifying to him that he can’t just let them go.  Blowing them off isn’t an option because his dreams always come true, and the dreams he’s been having lately are about his twin sister—only she isn’t the same in his dreams as she is in reality.  In his dreams she’s a tattooed warrior whose blades are sharp and her skill is unmatched by her foes.  Most of the time.  In one of the dreams he has she loses and the price for that loss is her life.  He has time to figure out how to fix it, but he has no idea how to do that because Whitney, in real life, is blind and deaf, and he can’t imagine how it’s even possible for her to swing a sword the way she does in his dreams.

 

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

JOLTED AWAKE

?

Tommy Leighton was jolted from his sleep in a panic.  His eyes shot open, he sat up in bed, out of breath, and covered with sweat.  He looked around his bedroom and was relieved to see that he was still there.  He was still in his bedroom.  He was still in Burnsville Missouri.  The clock on his nightstand told him that it was 8:51 in the morning and the fact that there was even a clock on his nightstand told him that everything he had just experienced in his dream wasn’t real.  At least not yet.

He got up from his bed and went to the bathroom that separated his room from Whitney’s.  He went to the sink, ran some cold water, and splashed it on his face and the back of his neck.  This wasn’t the first time he awoke covered in sweat from head to toe or with the haunting image of Whitney’s silver—non-piggyback eyes--draining to white.  His dreams were never pleasant, but these latest sets of recurring dreams were the worst.

At least this morning he hadn’t awoke to Whitney staring at him as she often did.  A lot of times Whitney would wake up before he did and sit in his room waiting for him to wake up.  He couldn’t blame her for doing that and he never complained about it.  She only did it so that she could slip her mind into his.  She did it so that she could leave her dark and silent world and join the world of seeing and hearing.  Without him she was blind and deaf and he couldn’t imagine living in a world that had absolutely no sights and sounds, so he never complained about it.

The cold water on his face made him feel better, but it still wasn’t enough.  He turned the shower on, adjusted the water so that it was just barely warm enough to tolerate and jumped in.  It’s Sunday, July twelfth 2009, he thought to himself as he let the cool water run over him.  And I have about four or five years to figure this out and keep these things from happening.

At least that’s what he told himself.  The dreams he was having lately made no sense to him.  There was no doubt in his mind that these latest sets of dreams were of his twin sister, but they were not of the sister that he knew and understood.  In these latest dreams Whitney was about four or five years older, and she was a lot different.  She had an infinity symbol tattooed around her eyes so that the center of it connected over the bridge of her nose and the loops of it surrounded her eyes.  She also had runes tattooed on her battle scarred face and neck.  She wore a bright blue bandolier that crossed her chest and hips, a white, tight fitting tunic, and she was armed to the hilt with hand to hand combat weapons.  There were throwing knives, a whip, three daggers, two swords that criss-crossed her back, and other weapons that he didn’t recognize.  All of the blades she wore were black and even her boots had sharp black horns jetting out from the front and back of them. 

But that wasn’t the worst part of it.  Her weapons made her look dangerous.  You could put those weapons on a ten-year-old kid and it would make that kid look intimidating, but it was the look in her eyes that shocked him.  Whitney’s silver non-piggyback eyes were something to see, but it was the look that she had in those eyes that disconcerted him.  The look in those eyes was a look of a girl who had no boundaries.  It was the look of a person who would kill you just for the sake of doing it and never feel an ounce of remorse after.  There was no room for indecision with the girl who was haunting his dreams.  And there was no room for error.  The girl in his dreams was all business and her business seemed to be killing things.

And she was good at it.

Tommy finished his shower and got out.  He dried himself off, went to his bedroom and threw on a pair of jean shorts and a t-shirt.  He thought about going out to the kitchen for some breakfast, but if Whitney wasn’t in his room then, in all likelihood, she was out in the living room waiting for him.  He sat on his bed instead.  There would be time for piggybacking later.  For the time being he wanted to think things out a bit.  Once she was in his head he would have to tuck his dreams away so that she couldn’t see them and once he did that he wouldn’t be able to remember them himself let alone try to figure them out.

Tommy figured out a long time ago that his dreams weren’t just dreams.  They weren’t just his subconscious mind trying to figure out ways to deal with whatever was going on his life like they were for most people.  His dreams were prophetic in nature.  When he was younger his dreams weren’t all that scary, but they always came true.  He would dream of something happening and then it would happen.  It was no big deal because the things that he dreamed of weren’t that bad.  He would dream of his Aunt Carol telling them about a funny story that happened at the grocery store and then the next day she would tell that story.  Or he would dream about his baseball game and the events of his game would turn out exactly as he had dreamed.

But that was back then.  Lately his dreams were a really big deal.  They may not have started off that way and at first even when his dreams intensified it was more interesting than scary.  At first all he saw in his dreams was Whitney fighting with her swords and daggers, or using her whip against creatures that he’d never seen before.  She was impressive to say the least and she never lost.  No matter what she was up against she always came out on top.  He still didn’t understand what he was seeing in his dreams, and why his sister was so different in them than she was in reality, but he wasn’t scared by them.

Until he started dreaming of the battle that she didn’t win.

“Tommy?  You awake in there?” he heard his aunt call from the kitchen.  “I thought I heard the shower!”

“Yeah,” he called back out.  “Be out in a sec!”

Tommy got up from the edge of the bed.  He stalled as long as he could.  He guessed it was time to move on with his day.  He went to the door, paused for a second, and then opened it.  He still didn’t tuck his dreams away.  If Whitney wanted to piggyback he could always open the door to his secret little room and tuck his dreams inside before his sister could see them.  It was something that he could do in a microsecond.

Tommy walked out into the kitchen and his aunt was hovering over the stove.  “I’m making omelets,” she informed him.  “Ask your sister if she wants any.  She’s being stubborn this morning and I can’t get her to sign with me.”  Carol turned her head slightly and presented her cheek to him.  It was the way that most mornings started out.  Tommy walked up to her and gave her a kiss on the cheek and then went into the living room.

Whitney was sitting on the couch with her arms folded across her chest.  She had a crabby look on her face and she didn’t move an inch as he walked into the room.  Her silver eyes stared at nothing because they were incapable of seeing anything.  She was ‘in the dark,’ but that didn’t exactly mean that she couldn’t see anything.  Tommy knew that she knew he was in the living room.  She couldn’t see or hear him, but she had her shadows.  Her world was a completely dark and silent world, but she had the ability to see the living force of people.  She could sense their souls or auras and that meant that she knew that Tommy was in the room, but she didn’t reach out to him.  He walked up to her and gently tapped her on the forehead.  It was his way of telling her that he wanted to piggyback.  She cocked her head to the side and swatted his hand away as if he were a fly instead of her twin.

“Come on, Whit!” he said despite her lack of ability to hear.  “Get over it!  I went to Jakes yesterday!  So what!  I’m here today.”

Whitney sat there without moving. 

“I’m not going to feel guilty about it,” he lied.  “Sometimes I need a day to myself.  Sometimes I just wanna hang out with my friends!”

Whitney still sat there without flinching.  He went to tap her on the forehead again, but before his fingers reached their target Whitney snapped her hand up and grabbed his finger.

“NO!” she said.  “I don’t need you!”

Speaking was a feat that no normal and completely deaf person would be capable of.  Without the ability to hear a normal deaf person would never be capable of forming an understandable sentence, but Whitney could.  Nobody in the family could explain her ability to do that, and Whitney couldn’t explain it herself, but she had somehow trained herself to be able to speak as clearly as a normal hearing person could.  If you asked an otolaryngologist how it was possible for her to do that he’d probably laugh and say that it was absolutely impossible for any non-hearing human being to do it.  As a matter of fact he’d probably tell you that even if you had been born with your hearing and spoke clearly for your entire life, that you would lose that ability when you lost your hearing.  Yet, Whitney could do it.  Nobody could explain why, but she could.

Carol Anne had an idea why, but she was talking about it.  Not even to her husband Blake.

“Fine!” he answered.  “I’m not going to beg.”  He turned and walked back into the kitchen.

“Well?” Tommy’s aunt asked when he got back into the kitchen.

“Well,” he said back.  “Apparently she’s still really mad about me spending the day with Jacob yesterday.  Apparently I’m not allowed to do anything without her.”

“Oh,” Carol said as she slid and omelet onto a plate.  “Well maybe she does have a bit of a point there.  It’s not like she can ever do anything like that.”

“Really, mom?  I’m really supposed to stay home every day and give up every aspect of my own life?  I’m never supposed to go out and have any fun?” he asked her, but he already knew the answer to that.  At least he knew his answer.  That’s exactly what he was supposed to do.  His dreams told him that much for sure.  His dreams were crystal clear on the subject.  His life wasn’t supposed to have any fun in it.  As a matter of fact, his life, in about five years or so, was going to be as far away from fun as a person’s life could get.  He’d be lucky to make it to seventeen.

“I know that doesn’t sound fair Tommy, but try on a pair of Whitney’s shoes.  She can’t ever go with you even though you two can piggyback.  We can’t take any chances of anyone finding out.  Both of your lives would be ruined!  Is it fair that she has to make that sacrifice and you don’t?”

Carol put two slices of toast and four pieces of bacon on his plate and handed it to him.  He took it to the other side of the counter, sat on the bar stool, and started picking at his food.  “I guess I know that, but what am I supposed to do?  It’s not like I don’t go to school without her.”

“Yeah, but that’s different, Tommy.  You have to go to school.”

“I know, but that’s not what I’m saying!  I go there and I make friends and my friends ask me if they can come over here.  I always say no because of the Whitney thing.  Then they ask me if I can come over their house and I almost always say no for the same reason.  Sometimes I just can’t say no mom.”

Tommy cut into his omelet and the melted cheese starting oozing from it.  He scooped up a bite with his fork and slid it into his mouth. 

“I know and I’m not saying that you’re really doing anything wrong Tommy.  At least you wouldn’t be if our situation were normal.  All I’m saying is that Whitney sat on that couch yesterday and she didn’t move from it until she went to bed.  She just sat there staring into nothing the entire day.  You know better than anybody what that must be like for her.  Right?”

“I know, I know,” Tommy replied.

“Finish your breakfast and then go back in there and see if you can convince your sister to eat.  She didn’t eat a thing yesterday and I don’t want her to repeat that today, okay?”

Tommy nodded and went to work on his eggs but left the bacon.  His aunt always insisted on giving him both, but he hated bacon.  As soon as he was finished he left his plate on the counter and got up from his stool.

“Forgetting something?” Carol asked him as he turned away from the stool.  He turned back toward his plate, grabbed it, and brought it to the sink.

?

Whitney was still sitting on the couch in the living room when Tommy went back in.  Her arms were still folded across her chest and she still looked just as angry as she had the first time he went in.  Nothing had changed.  She hadn’t moved an inch mentally or physically.

Tommy stood in front of her and folded his own arms.  He knew he was up against a challenge.  When it came to stubbornness Whitney could make riding a mule look easier than dealing with her.  That’s the one thing that she did have in common with his dreams.  The Whitney that he dreamed of was just as stubborn.  He plopped down onto the couch next to her and tucked his dreams away.  One way or the other she was going to piggyback.

You suck! Whitney thought to him after their minds joined.  Getting her to piggyback hadn’t been as hard as he had expected.  The minute he sat down she wrapped her mind around his and slid her consciousness in.  He closed his eyes and let her.  When he opened them again he was no longer alone.

I take it you’re still mad, he thought back to her.

Duh!  Genius!

Get over it, Whitney!  I can’t always be here! He thought back.

I CAN’T GET OVER IT! She screamed into his head.  You know what this is like for me!  All I can do is sit here in the dark Tommy!  I don’t have to explain this to you because you already know!  I can’t do anything.  I just sit here and wonder about how much fun you get to have while I’m stuck here on the couch.

Yeah … I know.  Sometimes I wish the roles were reversed Whitney, but what am I supposed to do?

You could um … I don’t know … The answer is so difficult to come up with but gimme a second … STAY HERE WITH ME!

Tommy cringed.  He knew she was right and he did feel guilty about leaving her behind the day before.  Jacob was his best friend from school and Jacob had begged him to come over.  At first Tommy politely declined, like he always did, but Jacob hadn’t let it go.  He kept begging until Tommy finally gave in and told him he would.  Now it was time to pay the price for giving in to his friend’s request.

I’m here now, Whitney, he thought to her.

Yeah but for how long Tommy?  And I don’t mean how long until you decide to spend another day with one of your school buddies.  I mean how long until you find a girlfriend and want to hang out with her all day.  How long until you decide to go off to college, or get a job in another state?  How long until you get married and have rug-rats running around all day?  How long until I have to live a life without ever being able to see and hear?  Five years?  Six?  What do I do then?

Tommy knew the answers to those questions but he had to keep those thoughts buried deep.  The answer to all of those questions was never.  She was asking the wrong questions entirely.  The real questions were how long until both of their lives were changed forever?  How long until the government finally did figure out about the things that they could both do.  And how long until they figured out how useful those things could be to them?  How long would it be until the doors to other dimensions would be unlocked?  How long until the creatures from his nightmares began to cross?  Those were the questions that she should be asking herself because those were some of the things that were happening in his nightmares, but the biggest question that she should be asking was how long until I get a tail crammed down my throat, and how long will it take for the creature that owned that tail to suck out my soul?

But Tommy didn’t ask her those questions.  Instead he kept those thoughts buried in the deepest regions of his mind so that Whitney couldn’t see them.  The last thing in the world he wanted was for her to see them.  If she couldn’t handle the idea of spending one day in the dark then there was no way she could handle the truth of his nightmares.

Never Whitney.  It’s not like that.  We are one and we will always be one.  Left hand and right! He thought to her.  Left hand and right was their motto.  They had used it since they were little.  A person couldn’t tie their shoes without using both hands in a synchronized effort.  Tommy and Whitney were like that.  Individually Whitney couldn’t see or hear but Tommy could.  And Tommy had his own sets of talents.  She could meld with him, and he could meld with computers along with some other pretty cool things.  Together they were two hands left and right.

I wish I could believe that Tommy.  Eventually you will want to live your own life and leave me completely behind.  I’m nothing but a burden to you.

Hah! He thought back to her.  Just because I went over Jacobs yesterday doesn’t mean that I’m ever going to do any of those things.  You’re stuck with me.

Yeah right, Whitney thought to him.

See if I’m lying.  Look as deep as you want to.  Search around in my head and see if I’m just saying that.

You know I don’t like to do that.  I try my best to give you as much privacy as I can.

Do it.  Seriously.

I don’t have to.  I can already tell that you mean it, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t change your mind someday.  Especially if some pretty girl comes along.  I know how you are about pretty girls.  Jeez.  I mean sometimes your heart actually flutters from just looking at one!

As if you are any different!  Don’t think for a second that I don’t know how you feel about Jacob!

What?  He’s a total dork!  He thinks pretending to be a Jedi is actually cool!  Dork with a capitol D!

Well then I must be a dork too! Tommy thought back to her.  We spent pretty much the whole day yesterday re-enacting a bunch of scenes from Revenge of the Sith!

Dork! Whitney thought.  You’re both Dorks with a capitol D!  But she was smiling when she thought it.

CHAPTER TWO

The Arena

?

Bring your body outside.  Let’s go get some fresh air, Tommy thought to her as he got up from the couch.  Whitney got up too, and Tommy waited as she walked to the front of him.  With her in front of him she could see her body through his eyes, and watch herself walk.  Doing that enabled her to know where she was going and it made it possible for her to walk without any kind of aid.  She went to the back door and Tommy followed behind her. 

They went to the back yard and Whitney sat her body down on a reclining lawn chair.  Tommy watched her get herself situated.  Quit looking at me now.  You know I hate that! She thought to him.  I look so pathetic!

You’re not pathetic Whitney.  You’re blind and deaf.  There’s a difference.

No, not really!  Without you I pretty much can’t do anything.  Like yesterday.  I didn’t get up off of the couch.

Crap!  I almost forgot mom wants …

Aunt Carol wants, Whitney interrupted.

Mom wants, he continued despite her demand.  I’ll think of her as mom if I want to thank you very much.  She wants you to eat something.

Not hungry, Whitney replied as she leaned her body back onto the recliner. 

Always so difficult, Tommy thought to her.

Yep!

Tommy gave up on trying making her.  He already knew what the result of that would be.  They would argue about it for a while.  Since she had said that she wasn’t hungry she would dig her heels into the ground and stick by what she said and nothing would change her mind.  That was her way.  If there was any chance of her eating anything it would be because she decided she was hungry and not because anybody told her she should eat.  Instead of going through that he walked to the garage, leaned behind the chest freezer, and picked up the sword that he and Jacob had made the day before.

It wasn’t anything fancy.  It was essentially just a cut down broomstick with duct tape wrapped around one end for a handle, but it did the job.  He had left it in the garage because Aunt Carol would freak out if she saw it.

Watcha gonna do with that thing?  Beat up some poor defenseless cat or somethin’? Whitney asked him in a sarcastic tone.

No.  I’m gonna get in a little more sword practice, he thought back to her as he walked through the front of the garage.  He turned right instead of left just to avoid letting their Aunt Carol see him with the makeshift sword and he headed off toward the small forest grouping that was on the East side of the property.

You really are a dork ya know.  You’ll probably end up smacking yourself in the face with it.

You’d probably get a kick out of that.

Oh believe me.  I plan on laughing my but off when you do.  I’m looking forward to it!

Well at least she was looking forward to something.  Anything was better than her feeling sorry for herself.  Tommy reached the forest line and walked inside.  He found a decent sized clearing in the trees and brought the sword to the front of him.

HiYah! Whitney mocked.

“Shut up!” he said as he began to practice swinging the sword.  Tommy took an offensive athletic stance, holding the sword with both hands, and did his best to remember the way the sword had felt the day before.  In reality he was standing in the middle of a small forest grouping with a wooden broomstick, but in his mind that wooden sword was a real sword.  He began making slices through the air defending himself against an unseen enemy.

Who are you supposed to be?  Obi Wank yer Salami?

That’s Obi Wan Kinobe! He answered, but it wasn’t Obi Wan that he was trying to mimic. 

The day before he had been with his best friend Jacob, but that wasn’t the significant part.  The significant part was that he hadn’t had Whitney with him and, because of that, he had been able to keep his dreams.  It was the version of Whitney that he had dreamed of that he tried to duplicate.  In his dreams Whitney was impressive with her swords.  She didn’t use one, she used two, and her swords became blurs in the light as she pit herself against her enemies.  His dreams weren’t with him as he stood in the forest, however, and he had only his memories of his movements from the day before to guide him.

Tommy continued to slash and slice his wooden practice sword through the air and he couldn’t help but notice that Whitney seemed interested.  She was mocking him (because that was just her way) but while she was mocking him, she was also feeling a little envy.

I bet you look really ridiculous.  I wish I could see you with my own eyes.  That way I could laugh my butt off at you! Whitney scoffed.

Tommy lowered his sword and stood straight up.  Actually Whit.  That’s not a bad idea.

Huh?  What idea.

We could go to the helm, he answered.  I could create an arena and we could both practice!

There were two ways that Whitney could piggyback with him.  The first and most common way was when Whitney just slipped her consciousness in.  The experience was similar watching a television program.  She saw everything Tommy saw, heard everything that Tommy heard, and felt everything he felt.  She was privy to every thought on the surface of his mind.  They called it piggybacking, but more specifically they thought of it as ‘riding along.’  But they weren’t limited to that.  If he wanted to he could create, in his mind and imagination, an entire alternate realm.  The helm was just one of the realms that he created for them to interact in.  It existed in his mind and his mind only.  Tommy was a sci-fi geek.  He loved Star Trek, Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, or any other futuristic or space movie, and the ‘helm’ was like the cockpit of a ship.  He created that reality because he could interact with Whitney in it and still have control over his body.  He did that by imagining himself wearing a body suit complete with sensors that duplicated his movements in the ‘real world.’  The front of that cockpit was a movie screen that showed whatever his eyes were looking at, and speakers that brought in the sounds of the ‘outside world.’  But being in the ‘helm’ allowed them to talk things out like normal people could—face to face—instead of thought to thought.

When they ‘went to the helm’ both of their bodies were replicated in his mind and the alternate reality that Tommy created.  Whitney liked it because Tommy could actually give her sight and sound in there.  It made her feel like a normal person.

Oh I would so kick your butt in a swordfight! She thought to him.

Yeah?  Prove it! He said back to her.

Tommy laid his sword on the ground and sat next to it.  The plan was to build an arena in his mind and for them to interact in it.  But there were risks involved.  He wouldn’t have any control over his body at all.  His body functions would still continue, but he wouldn’t see or hear anything that was happening in the outside world.  He, as well as Whitney, would only be aware of what was happening in the arena and they would both be completely ignorant of anything and everything that happened outside of it.  Even if the most horrific thing in the world began to happen in the real world he would have no idea that it was happening.  A hungry animal could begin munching on his leg while he was inside of his alternate reality and he wouldn’t feel a thing.  That was the downside.

He lay back on the ground, folded his hands across his chest, and closed his eyes.  Whitney withdrew from him, but only momentarily.  When she returned to him their world would be different.

?

Tommy kept the arena as simple as possible.  All it was, was a twenty-foot round mat, surrounded by nothing.  It floated amongst darkness as if it existed in the very center of the universe.  He surrounded the practice mat with bleachers and filled the bleachers with an audience.  Five feet in from the edge of the mat was a red ring which represented the outside boundary of their practice area.  But the red ring signified something else.  It signified the location of a force field that would issue a penalty shock if either of them were forced into it.  The force field surrounded the arena in its entirety, forming a bubble like dome.  When Whitney returned to him she didn’t just return as one consciousness joined with another.  She stood with him, face to face, standing in the center of the ring.

The crowd stood to their feet and the arena was filled with shouts and applause.

Tommy modeled the tunic that she wore after the one he saw her wearing in his dreams.  Whitney was no longer privy to his thoughts so he opened the door to his dreams and let himself see them.  He didn’t make the outfit exactly the same, however.  He made her tunic black.  He gave her a maroon cape, and he armed her with her training swords only, but he did give her two of them.  Just like in his dream.

When Tommy and Whitney piggyback, Whitney’s eyes are deep, ocean blue like his, and even though they were piggybacking while they stood in the arena, Tommy still chose for the retinas of her eyes to be silver.  He liked her silver eyes because they were different.  He liked them because they were impressive to look at, and because they were mesmerizing.  As soon as Whitney returned she looked down at herself. 

“I feel ridiculous!” she said.  “You look ridiculous!  And most of all … they sound ridiculous,” she added slinging a thumb over her shoulder toward the crowd

Tommy liked bringing Whitney ‘to the helm’ because Whitney was different when she was in there with him.  She was just like everybody else in ‘the helm.’  She could see and hear because he gave her sight and sound.  Her body was no longer flawed in that way because it was a recreation of her body with her consciousness inside of it.  The effect that it had on her was she became more confident.  There was no reason for her to self-depreciate—no reason to feel sorry for herself.  In the helm she could do whatever she wanted and it showed.

“You ready to have some fun?” he asked her as he drew his practice sword.

The practice swords that Tommy created were hollow metal short swords.  The blades were round tubes with blunt ends so that stabs were felt, but they wouldn’t puncture.  He gave them just enough weight so that each of them would feel the blows that were dealt.  The hilts were ornate and the handles form fit each of their hands.  Whitney drew both of hers and looked at them.

“You sure this is a good idea?” she said.  “I’d hate to make you run off and cry to Aunt Carol!”

“Go ahead and try it!” Tommy replied.  “But I think if anyone does any crying it will be you!”

“Ha!” she said lowering her swords toward the mat.

“You might want to keep your guard up sis,” he said.  “I don’t plan on taking it easy on you.”  Tommy got into his stance and brought his sword to the ready.

But Whitney didn’t heed his words.  She didn’t square off to him and she didn’t raise her swords into a ready position.  What she did, instead, was to begin pacing back in forth in front of him with her swords pointed downward.  She was leaving him an open invitation to strike.  She was leaving him a huge target to aim at.  She paced back and forth in front of him as if she were a lioness on the prowl for dinner.  She kept her eyes pinned to him with a sideways stare waiting for him to make the first move.

Tommy waited for a good opportunity, and when she was shifting for a turn he went for it.  He spun and slashed his sword in a high arc.  He aimed for her shoulder and, to his surprise, Whitney defended.  She also spun.  She raised both of her swords in plenty of time and caught his sword by crossing both of hers in front of her.

“These swords feel good in my hands,” she informed him.  “I feel like I was born with them.  We should have tried this a long time ago.”

It wasn’t what she said that struck him.  It was the way that she said it.  Not only did she speak with a confidence that she usually only used inside of the helm, but there was greediness in her voice along with it.  It came across to him as blood lust.  It was as if she were hungry to feel her swords reverberating after delivering a blow to him and that greediness reminded him of the girl from his dreams.

Tommy was a little too stunned to speak, and Whitney didn’t wait for a snappy comeback from him.  She pushed back, using her swords as leverage, spun again, and delivered a two stroke series of blows directed toward his waist.  Tommy awkwardly deflected the first, but could not match the second.  It landed against his side and the crowd went wild.  They stood in their bleachers and began stomping their feet as they shouted out in joy.

“Point!” she announced with a bright smile.  “That’s how this works isn’t it?  If I hit you I score a point?”

“Yeah,” Tommy answered.  “I guess so, but I’m a little confused here.”

“About what?  I didn’t program the crowd.  You did.  I can’t help it if I made them happy!” she said as she took a step back.  She swung each of her swords in little arcs with limber wrists as if she were testing the feel of them.

“Not them.  You don’t get it do you?” he said as he held his side.

“Get what?  Did I do something wrong or something?”

“No.  That’s just it.  I’ve been watching Star Wars movies for years, playing around with plastic swords for years, and I spent the entire day yesterday practicing against Jacob.  I beat him every time.  As far as I know this is the first time you’ve had a sword in your hands.  The first time ever, and you score the first point?  That’s pretty remarkable.  Don’t you think?”

Whitney shrugged.  “I don’t know.  Is it?”

“I think it is.  Let’s try something a little different.”

“Okay.  Like what?” she asked.

“Instead of just going at it all happenstance let’s take turns.  I’ll start off being the aggressor.  I’ll deliver a series of strikes against you and you see how many you can defend before I score a point.  Once I do score a point then we switch and see how many I can defend.  The person that defends the most times—wins.  Me and Jacob did this yesterday.  I won every time but the most I scored was twelve defenses before he scored a point.  I’m curious to see how well you do.”

“Okay.  Sure,” she said.

Whitney lowered her swords again, but remained square to him.  “Whenever you’re ready.”

“Well, first off I think I need to go to two swords.  I don’t think there was any way I could have prevented your second strike from getting through.”  Tommy held his hand out in front of him and a second training sword appeared in it.

Tommy held his swords out in front of him but paused in his advance.  “Why do you do that?” he asked her.

“Do what?”

“You hold your swords pointed downward.  It’s counter intuitive.  You should hold them up and at the ready,” he said, but he had an ulterior motive for mentioning it.

The reason he brought it up was because it didn’t match what he saw in his dreams of Whitney.  Whenever that Whitney fought she was forever aggressive.  She faced her foes directly and never gave her opponents a chance to think.  She was always all business, and she was always direct and assertive in her posture and in her attacks.

The version that was standing in front of him seemed different.  Her style seemed different.  She was more cat like.  It was almost as if she wanted to toy around with him in the same way that a kitten would toy around with a mouse stuffed with catnip.

Whitney looked down at both of her swords and then back up at him.  “I see you doing that, but for some reason that just doesn’t feel right to me.  Keeping my swords pointed down does feel right.  I feel ready when they are down,” she said simply.

Tommy shrugged.  “Suit yourself, but your swords have further to go to block a strike that way.”

“Yeah, I know,” she said, but she didn’t bother to raise them.  “But you move as slow as an ox with a full load,” which prompted a laugh from their audience.  “You could shut them up if you wanted,” she said nodding toward them.

“I think they’re a nice touch,” he replied.

“Suit yourself.  As long as you don’t mind them seeing you get humiliated by your skinny little sister!”

The crowd booed but that didn’t bother Whitney because she knew he made them do it.

Tommy adjusted his feet slightly and planned out his sequence of attacks.  He decided to start with a four strike sequence to see how she would handle that.  He started off by slashing each of his swords in an arc that started from the outsides and swung inward, then he spun and swung them both, one trailing the other. 

Whitney countered each move gracefully.  By the time the two swords swung in she had hers in position and when he spun and advanced on her, she countered by stepping back, spinning and matching his movements.  Again the crowd went wild.

“Have you been practicing this when I’m not around?” he asked incredulously.

“Huh uh?  Why?  Am I doing good?”

“Better than Jacob,” Tommy said.  “The most he could block was five, but he only did that once.  He could usually only block two or three and we were only using one sword each.  Two is definitely more complicated.”

“Yeah, but like I said before—he’s a dork!” she replied.

“Okay.  I’m gonna step it up a bit,” Tommy said.

The next series of strikes that he delivered was a series of six.  She countered every one of those so he increased the number again in the next set, and the next after that.  She countered those too.  He kept intensifying each set until finally, when he got to twenty three strikes in one set, she faltered and missed a block.  Both of them were winded and panting by that point.

“Point,” Tommy said in between gasping breaths.

“Yeah,” she said panting back at him.  “I think I’m a little out of shape.  I couldn’t keep up with that last one.”

Tommy sheathed both of his swords and began pacing back and forth as he panted his way back to recovery like a puppy after chasing a Frisbee.  Whitney placed her hands on her knees, with her swords palmed between, and also panted.

“That, my dear little sister, was pretty impressive.”

“Little sister!” she said.  “Just because you were born five minutes before me doesn’t make you my big brother!”

“Yeah I know, but I also outweigh you by twenty pounds!” he said back.

“So!  You’re fat!  What’s that got to do with anything!  And speaking of fat.  I’m hungry.  Let’s take a break and eat.”

 

To be continued.


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