Okay, so a few people want to know what happens next. Frankly, so do I. This is just a little something I’ll be writing in between writing, for fun and practice. The chapters might be a little short—I’m more of a frequent and short guy, rather than seldom and incomprehensible amounts.
Without further ado...
Blake awoke the next morning to pounding at his door. His body fought, trying to get as much sleep as possible. Then the banging became louder and a hazy memory glinted in the dark. Suddenly Blake was stalking towards the door, shinai in hand.
‘Blake, man! Open up!’ The voice belonged to Jared. He was safe.
The shinai dipped down.
But what if there was someone else out there, forcing Jared to lure him out?
The shinai went up. Silently Blake cursed himself for not having installed a peep hole in his door.
In one swift movement he twisted the door knob open and fell into the middle stance.
‘Whoa! Fuck, dude!’ Jared jumped back a few feet when his eyes met the shinai, the tip pointed directly at his throat. Blake’s eyes darted around. No one else was outside. No van was waiting to take him away.
Slowly, he lowered the weapon.
‘Okay, what just happened?’ Jared asked, Blake moving aside so he could enter. ‘I could swear you were ready to go at me.’
‘Sorry Red. Thought you were someone else.’ Blake said. Jared snorted.
been his friend for a few years now, since their junior year at high school.
The tall man had moved to Blake’s town from
Jared moved into the kitchen and started to unpack groceries into the fridge. He went to the same University, but he lived in a dorm, whereas Blake lived in a small house that belonged to his uncle. Blake had invited his friend to move in several times, but Jared would never take him up on it, always saying something about imposing, though he seemed to have no problem using the kitchen, or the laundry room, or the television, or the shower...
Blake leaned the bamboo sword against the wall, next to his bogu before following his buddy into the kitchen.
‘So what’s really up wit the theatrics? You have a wild night?’ Jared asked, between working the blender. The breakfast shakes were habit. One that Jared had soon gotten Blake involved in.
Blake rubbed his temples as Jared filled some glasses.
You in there? Blake thought to himself. I know I didn’t imagine all that. Or did I?
Suddenly Blake wasn’t so sure of anything that had happened the day before.
‘You okay, man? You don’t look so well.’ He felt Jared’s hand pressed up against his forehead. ‘Nope. No fever. Drink up.’
Blake wrapped his fingers around the cool glass and took a swig. Chocolate peanut butter smoothie. It almost seemed silly to him that such a thing could be healthy, until the taste of woodchips hit his tongue.
Fucking whey powder. Blake forced himself not to gag. Jared always put too much in.
‘Going to practice tonight?’ Jared asked, putting the blender into the sink for Blake to wash later.
Kendo was one thing they had in common. Blake had been practicing longer than Jared, but the other man had picked up Blake’s obsession with the martial art.
‘Jared...’ Blake began, ready to confide what happened (he thought had happened) to someone else.
‘Yeah?’ Jared asked, suddenly much more alert, jolting Blake a little. Who would believe what he was going to say. There was not even a point in bringing it up.
‘Nothing, man.’ His mind darted around, looking for something to turn the conversation. ‘Uh, how’s Shelly?’
‘Shelly.’ Jared’s eyes narrowed. ‘Don’t get me started on that harpy.’
‘Ichi! Ni! San! Shi!’ The words echoed off of the walls of the dojo. All of the students called out together. There weren’t many as far as dojos went. The university provided them with a space and the sensei had come of his own accord. All in all there were nearly twenty-six students including Blake and Jared.
Blake swung his shinai in a controlled men strike. During warm ups they often did a thousand strikes or more, alternating between the men, kote and do.
Giant mirrors lined the far wall so each student could perfect their form. Blake was one of the middle-senior students, having only recently earned his shodan (first rank black belt). He was one of the handful of students that had bogu, which he wore as he swung the shinai over his head in perfect form. The deep blue of the kendo uniform was an interesting contrast between his naturally tanned skin and the shiny black of his chest protector.
Blake’s eyes never wandered during the practice. Soon his body was following all of the movements flawlessly, while his mind was unfettered, free to move around. It was the he thought he saw something out of the corner of his eye. His vision darted. Nothing.
Blake frowned and found Jared’s back. His friend was still not relaxed. It was important to be able to use force when you struck, but at the same time, to remain relaxed, like a reed in the wind (Blake’s favorite analogy). Jared’s face was red and straining. He was still ikkyu, the first rank before shodan, making Blake his direct senior.
Suddenly all the students halted. The sensei led them through a basic breathing exercise before continuing.
‘Joge suburi! Hajime!’ The teacher’s words rang out with a force Blake was still trying to cultivate, and which Jared only dreamed of, for the moment.
After the warm up the students without armor would line up against the wall and watched the more senior students at sparring practice and attack drills.
Blake found himself in his helmet, facing a student who had newly gotten his armor. The kid was making mistakes left and right. It was one thing to practice wit the shinai, but another altogether to practice in full armor, especially against a live opponent.
‘Bigger waza.’ Blake called out. The girl nodded her head. It was hard to hear with the men on, so Blake had to yell.
After ten minutes of practice, she had improved somewhat.
‘Watch your footwork. You should practice your stance a little more. Good kiai.’ He told her. She bowed, sweaty and smiling.
Jared was next. He moved into place, shinai ready. Both of them stood in chudan, the middle stance. Blake could tell Jared had a grin plastered on his face.
Blake gave a kiai, projecting his spirit outward. It was smooth and forceful. Jared responded. His kiai was raw and jagged, almost volatile. Immediately Jared came at Blake. Blake did not back away, instead held a perfect stance, giving his friend no openings. Jared took several swings, missing each time.
Blake gave another kiai, shoving all the force he could muster. Jared faltered for a split second and Blake moved in with the speed of several years of training. He effortlessly sidestepped Jared’s kote strike and came down on his friend’s head, the sound of the bamboo on metal ringing out as Blake followed through and spun around to face Jared before the man even realized he had been hit.
‘Yame!’ The sensei gave the command to stop. Jared was breathing heavily. Blake saluted him before he sauntered off.
‘Hajime!’ Blake’s eyes widened as he saw who his opponent was. One of the nidan, the next rank up from him, had stepped into place and was advancing. Blake gave his kiai and the dance began.
Try as he might he was barely able to counter the nidan’s attacks. He was having trouble getting a hit in and the frustration was showing in his form. He knew it was only a matter of time before he slipped up.
Just as the thought entered Blake’s mind, he sensed the shinai come down. It was going to strike men. If it had been a bladed sword and were he wearing no armor, it would be a killing blow.
Suddenly, before Blake could register anything, he side stepped at a blinding speed, barely able to hold chudan as he stopped.
What the hell!
Unperturbed, the attack came again, this time for his belly. Blake found himself moving forward, too close to pull off a successful strike. His opponent moved to the side and tried again. Blake moved once more.
::Advance.:: The voice was calm. ::Advance and I will make sure this warrior does not land a strike.::
You! Blake’s mind wandered. Luckily the voice was handing things, moving around like an eel on the arena floor. I didn’t dream it then.
::No. It was not a dream, and I suggest you dispose of our attacker before he disposes of us.::
Blake felt himself side step again. This time he centered all of his force into his kiai, blending it with his strike and the stomp of his foot as he advanced. The sword deftly touched down on the nidan’s men before Blake followed through and spun around.
‘Yame.’ The sensei’s command ended the match.
Blake found himself leaning up against the wall, peeling his men off. His shoulders sagged. He was usually tired after practice, but this was weariness of a different nature.
Why am I so tired?
::Your body is inefficient in its expenditure of resources. I require vast amounts of raw materials for successful action.::
What the hell are you talking about? What are you and why are you in my head?
::I am a simbiont. And I am not “in your head”, I am existing primarily along your spinal canal and cerebellum.::
None of it made sense.
What did you just do? Why weren’t you around this morning?
::As mentioned previously; I require a vast amount of raw material to operate due to the state of this body. I needed time to synthesize more proteins to metabolize.::
And my match?
::We were in danger. The other one was a threat. He was about to land a killing blow.::
How do you know?
::I heard your thoughts.::
Great. What about the other matches? Why didn’t you help me then?
The voice became impatient. ::They were not threats. You could have easily disarmed them or killed them at any time had you wished.::
Look, I don’t know if you didn’t notice, but we’re not actually killing people here. We’re just practicing with wooden swords. Blake tried to explain. The voice was silent.
::I do not understand. It is a game?::
No. Not a game. Blake sighed. He was trying to explain kendo to a voice in his head. He rolled his eyes. In his spine.
‘Holy shit!’ Blake looked up to see Jared. He could feel the thing inside of him watching too. It’s interest was piqued.
‘How the hell did you move so fast?’ Jared asked, pulling Blake close by the shoulder. The both made their way to the change room, formalities over.
‘You’ve got to teach me that.’ Jared smiled. Blake felt guilt. It hadn’t been him that moved so fast.
::True, but it was your body. I merely moved it in a more efficient manner. In time you can learn this without my aid.::
Is there any way to get you to NOT spy on me?
::Spy on you? I do not understand.::
Stop listening to my every thought! Blake screamed inside. He felt the awareness of the thing withdraw until it was nearly unnoticeable.
‘Blake? Dude? You alright?’ Jared asked, stripping off his armor.
‘Uh, yeah. Just tired.’ Blake said, slowly removing his kendo gi and hakama, folding them neatly. He wandered into the shower room, stepping under the spray. Jared soon wandered in. Blake found his eyes roaming over his buddy’s back, gazing at the well formed muscles there.
He looked away as he felt his groin begin to stir, willing it away.
He soaped up, water pooling on the floor. Suddenly his mind went back to the other day. He hadn’t dreamed any of it. There was a crazy cult after him and some kind of...simbiont inside of him. And all those people. He had killed them, or rather let the thing inside of him kill them. And that woman...There was no way she could have survived.
He finished washing and quickly toweled off, hoping to avoid Jared.
‘Where you going man?’ His friend called.
‘Sorry, Red. Gotta go. Call you later.’ Blake said as he pushed the door open and stepped outside.
Blake locked the door as soon as he returned home. He pulled all of the curtains and took the phone off of the hook.
Alright. I want answers.
No response. He could feel the thing inside of him.
I know you’re in there. Come out.
The presence expanded and bloomed, filling all of Blake’s senses.
What are you?
::I am a simbiont. Have you forgotten?::
No! I mean...do you have a name at least?
Khamon. I’m Blake.
::I am pleased to be bonded with you, Blake.::
Bonded? Alright, we have to go over a few things. Before he could get any further there was a loud knock at the door.
Blake dropped into a crouch and moved to the window. He pushed the curtain aside slightly to see who was there. He had a feeling the big bag guys wouldn’t knock if they wanted in, but who knew.
Standing at the door were two young men in suits, black books tucked under their arms. Blake swallowed and remained still. They knocked again before giving up, moving to the next house.
::Who were they?::
No, something worse.
::I don’t understand. Is that humor?::
Blake moved into the kitchen and took a drink of water. He suddenly found himself extremely thirsty. When he finished his sixteenth glass he got annoyed.
Why am I so thirsty?
::I have told you already, twice. I require a vast--::
Amount of raw materials. Yeah, yeah. I remember. Khamon seemed a little smug. What the deal. Why are you in my...spine, and how did you get there?
::I required a host body so I could survive in this environment.:: There was a pause, ::I entered through the skin of your lower legs almost three terran weeks ago.::
Three weeks?! Why didn’t you say something?!
::I saw no reason to reveal myself and make you act suspicious, resulting in our capture.::
Yeah, well, hate to break it to you but I’m pretty sure that happened anyway.
::Inevitable that they would find us. We should relocate immediately.::
::To remain here is to further expose ourselves to an enemy that has proven themselves a threat to our existence. You recall the Ollium?::
Blake felt his guts wretch at the thought of the incident. He didn’t care what it was, he never wanted to see it again.
What about all of those people? You killed them.
::I did what was needed for our continued survival.::
You KILLED them!
::Would you have rather died then?::
Blake chewed his bottom lip. He was rather attached to living.
::Put them from your mind. The Koda are much more resilient than you give them credit for.::
The Koda. Blake mulled the name around in his head for several seconds. Khamon shifted. Blake’s hand began to flex.
::I apologize. I have never had a host before. It is...uncomfortable to remain so still.::
‘What do you mean? I thought you needed a host to live?’
::For a prolonged period in this environment. Unfortunately due to my unique genetic standing I require a host that is completely genetically compatible or else the risk of rejection is in the probability range of 99.99%.::
Suddenly Blake felt very tired.
::The effects of the...kendo match.:: Khamon explained, ::I had been holding them off, but no longer. We must rest immediately.::
Even as his eye lids dropped, Blake fought.
::Imminent collapse. More than likely in a inconvenient location.::
Blake thought up a snappy retort as he fell onto the couch, unable to move. He hoped the smarmy little simbiont heard him before he drifted off.
So there you have it. Neat, huh? I didn’t expect some of this, but I get to find it out only moments before you!
Email me if you enjoyed it, or have criticism!
Men: The head protector worn by kendoka.
Kote: Wrist protectors.
Do: Protects the torso by covering the abdomin and chest area.
Dojo: Place of learning for students of the martial arts.
Waza: Technique. In this case, strike technique.
Chudan: The stance of water. The middle way. Default stance in kendo.
Bogu: Kendoka armor consisting of Men, Kote, Do and Tare.
Shinai: Bamboo practice sword.
Ikkyu: The last pre-rank before the black belts.
Shodan: First rank black belt.
Nidan: Second rank black belt.
Kendoka: A practitioner of kendo.
The art of Japanese “fencing” based on budo,
the warrior’s way of the ancient samurai of