Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Kouma Part 5

The boxes.

The boxes are staring at me.

Probably staring back, because I have been looking at them since I came home. I don't blame them, poor boxes. I came home after Ryo hung up, and the oppressive silence in this house is driving me crazy. I bet this is hard for everyone, even for the unanimated objects.

To run away from the weird, I came to this small town, only to meet a split-personality teacher, a possessive psychopathic fashionista with severely broken friendship ideals, a supernatural mind-blowing entity and now I get the hint that Ryo, the apparently fragile yet common girl who was my only link to the normal world, is in fact some kind of mobster. So, yeah.

My third day here barely started and I already feel tempted to move again.

The memories of what happened in class this morning are still too vivid, too real. Burned into my retina, the image of a bizarre world that seemed to be waiting for me. The proof that I can't outrun Mystery. It found me again, and I can't help but despair. There is no hope, anywhere.

Once again, I feel forced to state it's not about the supposedly terrifying and truthfully obnoxious supernatural vision. After all I have seen in the past years, they don't even scare me that much anymore (truly unfortunate hazards of the profession); it's the lack of peace that bothers me. I'm always forced to run and leave everything behind all of a sudden, and I do realize that this has become a habit for me. However, I don't see any other alternative. I am, indeed, a walking lightning rod for disaster and staying here would only make things worse for everyone.

Keep saying that to yourself, kid. It makes you sound less of a wussy, and we certainly need it to sell the novel.

Oh, you're here.

And you won't be here for long, right?

Yeah, I'm seriously thinking about packing up and leaving. Feel free to stay, if you want to.

I wish. You really embarrass me with your completely unneeded drama.

So you think I actually enjoy having to do this? Don't you think I'd rather stay here with Ryo and have a normal life like everyone else? I have been dealing with this stupid thing for too long, and I'm just what you called me: a kid! A kid dealing with problems an adult wouldn't be able to! And I'm so sick of your comments! You are nothing more than a stupid voice at the back of my head that is good for nothing but bringing me down! So don't you dare make me feel worse about this when my own parents were relieved to get rid of me! You know absolutely nothing about me!

...

Everything went silent and I never had the chance to ask if this was really a novel.

It stayed like that for exactly seven minutes and forty-three seconds until the doorbell rang. I tried to ignore it, but the person (assuming that it wasn't a tentacle-like tree vine) pressing the button persisted, like winners and travelling salesmen usually do. So it kept ringing and ringing.

Right now, I'm not sure if I was touched by the beauty in the other party's perseveration or just got annoyed by that constant high-pitched noise, but it is true that I went down and opened the door. Probably the latter, if one took into consideration that my hand had turned into a blazing fist.

As soon as I opened that door, I found myself glad to have a fist of my own ready because my foe surely did.

My attacker's moves were lightning fast and I could feel the killing intent present in every single blow she dealt. She pushed me back inside my house with strong punches that would have broken my bones if I had used my arms to defend myself directly instead of striking her arms before she could hit me in order to make she waste her energy. Imagine that her attacks were just like river waters; basically, I chose to fight back by redirecting her strength like a floodgate rather than simply block the flow and take the damage like a simple dam.

It seemed to be the most reasonable thing to do at the moment, especially because I was fighting for my life against someone who was obviously pretty good at modern wushu. Not a master, as someone used to reading novels would expect. Just a dedicated student with incredibly powerful fists of doom.

Once again, hazards of the profession. When you get into trouble all the time, you end up developing insane reflexes, an unusual way of thinking and even learning a thing or two about self-defense, martial arts and stuff. It's not like I'm good enough to become a kung fu movie stuntman, but it was surely enough to keep me alive after Kouma Yon's otherwise deathly attack.

Right, Kouma is the one trying to kill me.

Without enough time to dialogue, I can only keep striking back. Her fighting style is as furious and harsh as an untamed stallion, which is completely unexpected from a girl like Kouma. She is certainly not an adversary to be messed with. Her small fists are powerful and merciless and that's why I cannot afford to hold back just because she is a girl. Especially because that would go against my feminist ideals. There, I said it.

There are many different schools of Chinese martial arts, but only two real kinds of style: there is hard and there is soft. While Kouma's mighty attacks come from her training on the external part of fighting, such as hitting other people and breaking stuff with bare hands, mine focuses on the internal side with breathing techniques, controlling the energy's flow and meditation.

Guess which style is more useful when you're in the middle of the battle of your life.

Kouma is certainly stronger than me. It is quite obvious to me now that she is not one of the soft school Chinese martial arts students; her style is based on body's strength instead of mind's balance. Which might be the only reason why I am still alive and fighting back.

Too bad, you guessed wrong. When two different fighting styles clash, it's all about not being hit before your opponent is. And since the soft school teaches keeping yourself calm and not wasting energy, it's clear to me that if I keep avoiding her strikes and preventing her from hitting me, I have the better chances to be victorious. Piece of cake, right?

Wrong again. I haven't trained in a while and I don't think Kouma could say the same. My techniques are rusty and my body is not used to fighting. I'm actually more skilled at running away. Not for long distances, I'm afraid. Still, I am in worse shape than I was a few years ago and I don't believe I am in any condition to fight Kouma to exhaustion.

This means I am at this very moment fighting a great amount of fire with a half-empty bucket of water. Right now, I only wish I had practiced more. Kouma is clearly far more skilled than I am, and this difference is going to show soon. It's only a matter of time before she overpowers me, unless I manage to do something about it.

No, wait, am I really inside a novel? I know it’s not the time to have an epiphany or an existential crisis, but that certainly explains a few things. Not exactly, but it is certainly a fine lie. Easier to swallow than the awful truth, anyway. It works as a decent excuse for the uncommon things that happened to me and to my obvious excess of thinking. No one thinks that much in the real world. Wait, I wouldn’t know that. Considering I might be a novel character, I could never have been a real world common human. Perhaps.

Gracefully, she jumps and misses by a hair an imperfectly calculated flying kick, making me retreat a step instinctively while she was still floating in mid air. It seems I’m not the only one who is not on good terms with Lady Gravity; Kouma is outrageously defying it/her. I really need to come up with a decent strategy to either defeat her instantly or restrain her until I can calm her down; if it keeps like this, I will certainly...

And then I got struck right in the face by her other foot and was sent flying through the living room.

I was way too naïve. How could I have ignored it? The perfect circle she had traced in the air with her right leg was but the omen of something much, much bigger. The way she twisted her body, keeping her almost perfectly horizontally aligned; I should have seen that it was only a trick to distract me, taking my attention away from her other leg. Not a common flying kick as I thought, but a butterfly kick.

Trying to ignore the pain and heat present in the left side of my face, I realize that she wasn't trying to kill me. While aesthetically beautiful, the butterfly kick is surely not the most effective attack. To use such a low damage attack after finding a breach in the opponent's defense, she is probably...

Now is not the time to analyze her attacks or intentions. I need to stand up.

When I manage to, she is already waiting for me. However, there is a big difference this time; we are now in my living room. How is it different, you ask? You can't possibly expect me to be happy about fighting in here when I spent a great deal of my time yesterday trying to fix everything up! There is no way I'm going to let her Kouma to walk in and destroy everything. I won't allow her to ruin my beautiful living room, even if I die in order to defend it!

Switching our roles was the obvious thing to do.

Kouma first tried to punch me, so I avoided it and grabbed her left wrist. Surprised by the sudden change in my fighting style, she attacked with another punch, once again resulting in a wrist restraint. She furiously raised her left leg to kick me (and I'm not even going to say where, since I intend to keep this clean and free of parental guidance warnings), but this time my chromosome-influenced slightly superior physical strength (sorry girls, it just happens) finally overwhelmed her and I used the impulse to throw her forcefully against the wall while holding both of her wrists, our bodies sweating and simultaneously synchronizing at the same pulse.

Picture that scene. Go on, I know you want to.

Her eyes were now full of expression (overflowing with burning rage to be more specific); not only uncontrollable mad anger but a gracious tear glow, like a diamond exposing the Sun’s full color spectrum by letting the rays of light pass through itself.

No, not only fury.

Tears.

The girl I couldn’t even imagine feeling anything yesterday was now crying in front of me, like I had taken something very, very important from her.

“Release me, you jerk!” She screamed, raising the chances someone passing by the streets comes here and turn this sudden fight development into a police case. This is getting dangerous; I’m way too pretty for jail. “I’m going to make you pay for that!”

And maybe I did. The problem is, I don’t really know if I did it. I don’t even happen to know what I don’t know I did. And even if I did know what she believes I did, it wouldn’t mean I had done it. So, I need an explanation about what I possibly have done and evidence of me actually doing it. A semantics book would be fine, too.

“Hey, Kouma…” I said, negligently releasing her hands. “Could you be more specific? What exactly do you think I have don-”

I had released her hands alright. Problem is, by the time I took my hands away from her wrists they weren’t just hands anymore. They were, once again, blazing fists of death.

Lucky me.

Indeed, if it wasn’t for my sudden burst of luck, this story would be lacking a narrator. A living narrator, anyway: stories with posthumous narrators are becoming rather popular these days. Since there are a lot of supernatural elements in this particular one, I might keep my job after being buried. No, I think you need to be at least slightly alive to be the protagonist of a slice-of-life story. If anything, you need to have a slice of your life.

About that luck thing.

Kouma wasn’t completely free to move when she decided to attack me. Afraid of rather disturbing retaliations, I kept my hold on her leg as strong as I could. This fear was proven useful when she tried punching me, just as cavemen’s primal fear of well, deathly things. You got the idea, I hope.

I was lucky to be in a fictional world with a certain working level of coherent physics.

When Kouma moved her arms to punch me with all of her strength, the driving force used on that physical action worked as an impulse that sent us spinning earthward, and those unbelievably fast revolutions didn’t stopped when we hit the floor. As opposing sides of the Yin Yang, the enemies revolved on their common axis until they struck the room’s center table, resulting in falling moving boxes and great pain for both sides.

At least for mine, that I guarantee you.

Once bitten, twice shy; as soon as we stopped rolling like hay balls in a particularly powerful storm, I took advantage on the fact I was on top of her and once again held her by the wrists to avoid future attacks. Since I cannot trust Kouma to talk to me rationally right now (not when she can hit me), overpowering her completely might be for the best.

“Hah! You’re mine now!” I screamed with hints of madness, and then became truly aware of the situation.

Crazy looking guy? Check. Crying girl on the floor, being held by said guy in a rather uncomfortable pose? Check. Front door open to the streets, more than susceptible to attract the attention of curious passersby? Check. Negative luck on the guy’s side, making him a living sitting-duck in a world where every single person seems to have a gun? Double-check, triple-check, checkmate. Check it as much as you wish.

It would certainly look like I was taking advantage of something else (in this specific case, someone) other than the fact I was on top of her. Not that the first thing is completely unrelated, anyway.

I was just going to say this is not getting any better, but I guess it’s most likely a question of points of view.

Let’s check the facts, shall we? Lady Gravity did throw me to the ground, but she also sent a pretty girl along to make my fall, say, lighter. Also, said pretty girl did roll with me on that ground, and I ended up on top, resulting in a fan service scene a little bit more risqué than the latter. Which is indeed a great thing for this humble character and quite a teaser for the average reader but it won’t help much selling the book since, well, we’re already in the middle of it. Bad marketing planning on the author’s part.

Just like this fight. I mean, no matter how much our society pretends to be open-minded, most of the audience won’t like the fact I fought Kouma, a girl, even to defend my life. And those who see it as a good thing, because it was a fair fight between someone of the male persuasion and an equally (if not more) skilled female fighter, will complain about me winning the battle (yet would have clapped their hands if she had won). The only ones who are truly neutral about this are the people who liked this scene because of the blatant fan service.

There is no way I can please everyone right now. There is no turning point. So, in order to displease equally Greeks, Trojans and perverts, I will make the plot quickly advance by ending this action scene with the only thing whose mere trace can instantly kill the fun of any form of fiction: logic.

“Kouma, listen to me! Killing someone for no particular reason might be a recurring plot in anime and movies, but it has some rather unfortunate implications in real life.”

I said that hoping that I am the only one who noticed that we are in a novel. Well, noticed might not be the right term since it is only a theory induced by paranoia, but still... “You’re not being reasonable right now, and despite knowing you for no more than a short amount of time, I don’t think you are the kind of person who does this kind of thing.”

Actually, I do. I seriously believe I’m lucky you didn’t come here with a sub machinegun. “Can’t we sit down and talk about this?”

She looked at me for a while, probably stunned by seeing me not talk like a complete idiot when around her.

“…fine.” Her voice was softer and breathy, almost to the extent of mellow. “I will explain my point and listen to your defense, like in a proper trial. After that, I will mercilessly deliver punishment. Is that alright?”

Just as reasonable as some governments.

Reasonable enough, anyway.

“Well, while I don’t entirely agree with you, I guess we can move on. Until the punishment part, I mean.” Sighing seems to be the only proper thing to do right now. Maybe there is such a thing as sigh timing. Like comic timing. Maybe my sigh timing is good especially because my comic timing sucks. Maybe. “First things first: why specifically do you want do deliver punishment to me?”

She gave me an upgraded version of that blasé look of hers.

“Isn’t it obvious?” No, not really. “I’m going to make you pay for making Ryo cry!”

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