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|A Tenuous Blade (teaser) [message #38850]
||Mon, 16 May 2011 09:28
Registered: March 2009
Location: Tacoma, WA
A Tenuous Blade|
A Whateley Academy Story
by Kristin Darken
Erie, Pennsylvania: Friday October 6, 2006. 17:21 p.m.
Is this a dagger which I see before me,
The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee.
I have thee not, and yet I see thee still.
Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible
To feeling as to sight? Or art thou but
A dagger of the mind, a false creation,
Proceeding from the heat-oppressèd brain?
I see thee yet, in form as palpable
As this which now I draw.
Thou marshall'st me the way that I was going;
And such an instrument I was to use.
-Macbeth, Act II Sc. 1
The water along the beaches of Presque Isle was far to chilly in October for swimming, even at the beginning of the month. That didn't stop runners and other inhabitants of Erie from enjoying the National Park during the evening hours for a few more weeks before winter weather made routes closer to home more appealing than a scenic view. More importantly, they were getting in their bit of exercise before the park filled to overflowing with visitors from all over the region who spent the Labor Day weekend camping or partying one last time before the beaches closed for the winter.
There were a number of good trails to choose from and Frank and his father Carl Danielson each had their favorites. They also had significantly different paces, which led them to run their own routes instead of sticking together more often than not. Frank was a high school freshman but despite regular recruiting attempts by the Track coach throughout junior high, he was not in the athletics program. He didn't want to compete; the sandy haired teen ran because it felt good to run. There wasn't a particular need for it; between his metabolism and his parents' natural fitness, he could probably spend all his time sitting at a computer or on the couch and still keep his lean physique. Nonetheless, if he didn't get at least two or three miles a couple times a week; he felt antsy.
Unlike Frank's casual enjoyment of the exercise, his father was a serious runner. He frequently participated in 10k events and had even run a couple marathons. That was the problem with running with the older man, who set a vicious pace and maintained it for far longer than his son could keep up. So other than occasional challenges to push his own pace and endurance by trying to run with his father, Frank ran alone. Fortunately, running pace was the only thing keeping him from spending time with his father. They had their problems, disagreements about chore schedules and social activities, whether or not he had to join his parents at church services on Sundays... typical teen-ager conflicts. But while Carl Danielson ran a strict household, he did so with the same discipline and focus that made him a good runner. He wasn't harsh or without compassion and he obviously loved his family.
Frank was about half way through his second mile, long legs (at least relative to his short early teen stature) pounding out the main beat in a body-wide percussion track. His breathing snapped in sharp syncopation, the long deep breaths that he needed to maintain oxygen levels over the distance far different than the racing pace used by sprinters, or out of shape joggers. The windbreaker he wore shripped with each arc his arms swung fore and back. The teen didn't run with an iPod; he listened to his body when he ran, each one of those sounds keeping him safe and focused on what he was doing.
The quiet contemplation was interrupted as he began to hear the sounds of another runner coming up behind him. Whoever it was had to be moving quite fast to close the distance that quickly... and yet, the footfalls were spaced similarly to his own. And light, without the rustle of clothing or the counterpoint of breathing. Despite having been taught not to risk disrupting his stride by turning to look, he glanced back over his left shoulder and took in the strange appearance of the runner joining him there. The young man, in his early twenties, had the strong, dark features of a Native American. His heritage was further accented by the uncommon clothing, buckskins and moccasins that would make the strictest re-creationist happy. Without even the slightest acknowledgment of Frank, his fellow runner matched his stride and paced along beside him quietly. The situation was so surreal that Frank turned his attention back to the path ahead and slowed his pace slightly, hoping that the other runner would grow bored with the lack of challenge and continue at his own pace. Each cautious glance out of the corner of his eyes showed the man perfectly matching his pace even as he reversed himself and pushed faster than his normal ground eating stride.
Frank was growing more uneasy with each step, his breathing becoming slightly more difficult as the tension grew. There was no doubt that this wasn't just another runner, even an experienced runner like his father wouldn't run at this pace indefinitely... and no runner could do so without at least some change to his breathing. This... Indian... Native... whatever he was, couldn't be human. That left mutant... or... gho...
Before he could complete the thought, the man pacing him dived into him forcing both of them into the brush along the path. Frank started to curse as they rolled to a stop but was muffled by the hand clamped over his mouth. He began to struggle when three ghostly figures raced up the path from the direction they had been running, then cut right off the trail almost directly opposite. A look of alarm grew on the other runner's face and he jumped quickly to his feet and raced after them.
Frank let them go... he had no idea what was going on between them and the last thing he wanted to do was get more involved. He stood, dusting leaves and twigs off his sweats and quickly checked to make sure he hadn't been hurt any in the tumble. His right knee felt a little sore, but fortunately it was more like he'd rolled over a rock than anything internal. He glanced up and down the trail, looking for anyone else who might have observed the craziness he'd just seen. Had those men really been... translucent? The boy looked back into the sparse brush, unsure how it had kept whoever those men had been from seeing them. It was nothing nearly dense enough to provide any real cover.
That was when he saw the blade... the hilt, rather. He stepped over to it and pulled the dagger from the ground, where it had been embedded vertically. The hilt was a carved wood, seemingly worn with age and use. The blade, running about eight inches long, was a black stone-like material; like a glossy arrowhead... giving him the impression of volcanic glass or obsidian... though he didn't actually know what either of those looked like outside of descriptions in stories. He looked out across the path again, in the direction the men had taken, before looking at the blade again. Frank tossed it back into the brush and took a couple steps before pausing and going back in after it again. He quickly unzipped his jacket and wiped the hilt off as thoroughly as possible with his shirt before dropping it back in the brush. If their intent was to get his fingerprints on it before using it on someone, they were going to be disappointed.
With one more last look around, he started jogging on along the trail toward the meeting point where, with all the delays, his father was probably already waiting. Frank just wished he didn't keep having the feeling that someone was pacing him, in the brush off to his left. The sensation didn't really fade until they were well outside the Park.
Nikki Reilly: Sidhe who must be obeyed!
Goodkind International, The Good Ideas People™
Information wants to be free, and I will be the one who frees it! - Psike
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