Locked Shadows

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Leon

Breathe, Leon, breathe...

The situation was direr than I thought. Neil ran off somewhere to hide, leaving me to take care of the guys that attacked him.

There were six armed thugs, clad in black and very strong. With Neil out of the way, I managed to hold out on my own, knocking out a few measly ones, but suffering minor injuries and the unfinished task of having to take out the stronger ones without dying or letting Neil die either. The field was too open, and the only way out was to climb the fences that surrounded us. Neil had little strength left on his legs to run, and he was beginning to lose blood really quickly.

Them thugs really did cut him up, didn't they...

Something in the sky caught my eye. A strange looking star?

A foot from behind me kicked my leg, and I found the weight of my body falling until it made contact with the ground. Dammit. Don't let your guard down, Leon. I quickly got up and tried to find a way to outsmart the remaining three, who began to flex in intimidation.Even if they're strong, I thought, they're not the brightest guys in the pack. Flexing "muscles…?" Give me a break!

One recklessly charged, which made me laugh inside. They really are idiotic! You don't just attack someone one by one! The guy came at me with a ready arm to my upper body. I ducked, and swiftly brought my elbow to his stomach, just inches away from his groin. To my satisfaction, he recoiled in pain, clutching his torso as he fell with a thump on the ground, but soon recovered, grabbing my shoulders and pummeling me to the ground face up. My back shot with pain and he began to attempt an unpolished arm bar, which wasn’t very strong to secure me. Before I could react, he drew a small knife and began to go for my wrist.

“So you’re going to play it dirty, huh, pal?!” I sneered, escaping slowly from his grasp, “Well then I get to fight dirty too!” And with that, I rolled myself over to his wrist, where, with all my strength, bit it until my teeth felt loose.

My assailant gave out a yelp, and quickly let go of the knife. Without thinking, I grabbed it and gave out two quick slashes to his hands, which made him useless, but not fatally bleeding.

My eyes veered off to the other two, who seemed to get the idea that they were messing up. I was surprised that they didn’t come straight at me to finish the job. Now both of them came at me, drawing daggers from their pants. ULP!

I dropped the knife in my hands and sidestepped to the left, barely avoiding the tip of the blade that could’ve pierced my heart. I stood there, stunned for awhile, giving those two douchebags an opportunity to strike at me again, this time from both sides of my back and front. I couldn’t duck, and I couldn’t jump from my left or right. Their hands were by their sides, and that could indicate a possibility that they could easily grab me and slit my throat open.

Screw it. I had to take my chances. I pushed my full body and tackled the air on the left before they were in my range.

The men staggered, and I heard the sound of the blade piercing the inside of flesh. The victim screeched, “Damn it, you weren’t fast enough, mate!”

“Don’t blame me, we almost had that little runt, and the boss will be pissed for not getting that other runt dead!”

I froze, understanding the actual reason why they attacked Neil. They wanted him dead. But for what? I would have to ask him after clearing the board with these guys.

The two threw the daggers to the ground and drew out shiny, black machetes from their pockets. How do they keep all of that in their pockets?! But that was no concern. They seemed to ignore me, which could mean that I wasn’t their target anymore.

Neil was.

Good thing he was hiding. But in a full field you wouldn’t have many hiding places, which got me worried for the moment.

Unless…

I turned my back to see the area more and saw a house behind one of the sides of the fences surrounding the area. Maybe he hid there? Another stupid mistake by Neil, which I fully expected. How could he risk the safety of the people inside? Thinking about it more, however, it was probably the best. The people living there could call the police and save me too.

“Where the hell is he?!”
“Shut your trap and find him!”

Neil was nowhere to be found, which, surprisingly, gave me relief. But I had to expose these little criminals from getting to him if they in fact decide to breach the house. So with that in mind, I decided to hit and run, forgetting that they were armed with bigger and sharper blades.

Just before I could start to run and attack, a black figure appeared behind one of the men and landed a blow behind his neck. He screamed in pain and fell on the floor, where the figure took his machete from his hands by crushing his wrist with its foot. The fingers opened up, and the shadowy person took it and looked ready to finish him.

Desiring to be part of the action, I grabbed the strewn and forgotten daggers on the ground, put one in a place where I could quickly draw out, and ran to meet the second thug, who was still frozen after the strange figure’s visit. He saw me, and quickly drew the machete out again, ready to defend. I tried to slash for his stomach, but he was too quick. He brought my dagger with the machete’s metal, and a metallic CHINK! rang through my ears. I broke from it and tried to reposition myself to a side that can attack his vulnerable areas and pressure points.

I could tell, however, that he was really alert, because his chest, neck, and stomach was heavily guarded. I went for him again, this time trying a puncture for the legs to make him immobile. Still, he was too quick. This time though, the machete made a deep cut through my shoulder. I braced myself for pain until I realized a shocking thing.

The cut wasn’t there. Confused, I tried attacking him again, this time aiming for the heart.

He intercepted again, but this time I took the opportunity to grab the second dagger from my hiding spot and pierced it on one side of the left leg, causing a deep cut. The thug immediately sank down in pain, and I knew my work was done.

The daggers were bloody, so I wiped the blood away with my jeans, hoping that it would show as coffee stains rather than murder scars (not that I actually did). The smell was still present though…

I ran over to meet the cloaked and shaded figure, who just finished off his opponent with… a long stick? This puzzled me, and I opened my mouth to ask who the figure was.

Something hit me on the leg. I looked down and saw a bottle of perfume at my feet. “Spray your jeans with it,” the shadowy figure said, “It will eliminate the blood stench.”

I did as I was told, and sure enough, the smell was completely eliminated. “Why do you-”

“Tate,” the figured replied immediately after I opened my mouth. “You can call me Tate. I’m a bo fighter and that’s all you should know.”

“What’s the big deal?” I asked, annoyed, “I was good on my own with those punks, yet you ruined my little fun. Why are you here?”

“I would ask the same to you, Leon.”

What the… “How do you know my name?!”

“Simple,” Tate replied, not taking his eyes off his victim, “I just do.”

“Yeah whatever,” I muttered, dismissing the fact, “Look, don’t come here again or I’ll-”

I turned to look closer at his face, but he disappeared without a trace. Slick guy, I’ll give him that.

“Leon! Over here!”

I craned my head on the other direction and saw Neil in all his faded glory, staggering towards me. “Gotta talk to you. Come over for a bit, okay? I’ll show you the way.”

What could this be about? I wondered, deciding to follow him. I’ve got all night, so I guess…

Neil jogged over to the house that was barricaded from the field, which surprised me.

“Neil, you live there?”

“Yeah,” he murmured, trying to maintain his pace, “I’ll explain when I get inside. And be quiet getting in, ya? My parents are sleeping.”

“Fine, fine.” It took awhile to climb the fence and to make the leap of faith to Neil’s backyard, and once we got in, my buddy took me over to his room, which I’ve seen once or twice in my life, where a first aid kit was patiently waiting on one of the strewn pillows on his floor. Neil picked it up and began to treat his cuts, which lined his arms, but none were present on his chest, face, abdomen, legs, or back. Not a scratch! Weird.

I decided to start the conversation. “What the hell were you doing there, Neil?!”

He stopped rubbing alcohol on a spot in his arms and shrugged. “I was walking over to prank my older brother,” he began, “until I saw the guy who slashed my neck. Only thing that scared me though was that I didn’t feel a wound or a cut anywhere. Not even on my legs or anywhere I’ve been cut. It’s just my arms.”

It was a big mistake ignoring that sentence. “What the hell, man,” I hissed, “Don’t ever make me worry again!”

“Yeah, whatever,” Neil croaked, obviously not paying attention to me.

“Neil…”

“Look, man, it’s about my sight,” he wailed, pointing out his window, “Before I felt like I was going to die, I saw a funny looking star the size of a ping-pong ball up in the sky. It was the only thing I could see, and I couldn’t see anything else after that!”

So he saw it too! “You did too?! I thought I was crazy!”

“You’re not the only one, mate. But listen, I can’t address that now. I need to sleep. Go back home and we’ll talk about it in the morning, okay?”

I did go back home, but I wasn’t able to sleep at all. I looked out my window that night to see if that star was still there. It was. Maybe I am going crazy. I survived a fatal blow that left no wound and no pain, and I scared off a shady figure with my curt language.

But a thought hit me: If I survived a blow like that then beating anyone was going to be a cinch! There’s no way I would lose!

At that point, I regained my confidence, and I slept soundly, smiling to myself.


As we said, Neil met me in the school halls of Witherweed High. The star still shone brightly despite the cloudless sky and pulsing sun highlighting the sky, which scared the hell out of both of us.

“What’s wrong, boys? You look like you’ve seen a star in a crazy day like this!”

Both Neil and I jumped, and turned simultaneously to see Cynthia-Rose coming towards us with a spunky outfit to match her spunky, peevish persona.

“What do you want?!” I demanded, raising a fist at her.

“Well this is the first time I’ve seen you two pale as sheets, Leon,” she spat, glaring at me.

“That’s none of your business, Rose,” I spat back, meeting eye contact with her. “I ain’t scared of nothing.”

“Prove it then, Leon,” Cynthia retaliated, hardening her gaze.

“Fine. Then fight me tonight, at the area near Neil’s house at twelve a.m., sharp,” I snickered, “And if you don’t get there by twelve, I win, thus breaking your undefeatable streak, girl.”

Cynthia didn’t look fazed. “Fine,” she said, “Be that way. Your ass will get a whipping tonight. I hope you’re ready.” With a final toss of her hair, she spun her heels and left us boiling.


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