Chapter 23 K-Kay
Most mornings she awoke with a tight chest, finding it difficult to breathe. Congestion of her airways was a sign as was the slight tremor in her left hand which came and went as a randomized event. Soon, she knew there would be headaches followed by ageing. It was this later stage she feared most.
Yet despite all this deterioration of her health she felt a certain reluctance to admit her time was nearly up. Her immune system was slowly being overwhelmed despite the fact she was now taking the most powerful drugs her kind knew to combat the effects of being on earth. The anger inside came from knowing she had so much to learn about these people and their culture.
True, she had read and re-read the notes left by her predecessors all of whom had tried to embed themselves into the human psyche, who had tried to create a working model of this society. But the model was lacking something vital, . A whole dynamic of the human experience was missing which , she felt , was fundamental to understanding how her quarry had ‘gone native’ and imbued himself so well into this society.
That human experience was on two levels. First, she reasoned there had to be an unspoken empathy, a bond between strangers. Not a family or friendship sort of relationship but a kinship that was not quantifiable. Hence, she felt, the scientifically minded predecessors had failed to understand it.
Secondly, she thought this went further she could see a dynamic, fluid relationship between the sexes. Coming from a monosex society she had virtually no understanding of how male and female bonded or indeed, related to each other. The intricate signals and messages sent between male and female, that she felt existed beyond the obvious, were a mystery to her. Could he possibly have bonded in some way with a human female? She found this hard to believe and yet....
All this had built up in her mind over the months of the summer and now standing by a river that progressed through the English landscape in a never ending ribbon she decided to fill this knowledge gap. Fen34 was nearby throwing stones aimlessly into the water. She threw them with such force they were akin to bullets and sometimes ricocheted off the surface going clean to the other side of the river only to embed themselves in the trees lining that distant bank. Anyone standing there, in their line of fire, would have been seriously hurt.
It was clear to K-Kay, as it was to her predecessors that their quarry was drawing on help from humans, either male or female or both. ′ What was the nature of that relationship?′ she asked. Because of her origins she could not see why a female would want to help a male, especially if he was of a different species. But then she thought, humans are totally mad, totally irrational when it comes to their pets for example. What a dog owner would do for their pet beggared belief. No she decided, she had to get rid of her prejudice against the male and see what lay beneath a male/female relationship.
“Prep” she spoke decisively into her head set, “Can you locate the subject Carlo?”
There was a pause as she waited for the answer and took the time to take in the evening light as the sun caressed the western sky. It was so peaceful by this stretch of river with no living person around except herself and Fen both alien to this world. A physical comity as well as a mental comity flooded into her being, so much so she felt a pang of disappointed at the thought of leaving both this spot in particular and this planet in general. The green trees lining the river bank, the small green fields so quaint, the ducks on the water all spoke of peace and a certain timelessness.
A voice crackled in her headset destroying her sense of well being, “He is at the Duck and Jab Boxing Club come gym on West Houghton street. A converted church.”
“I know it.” she assured Prep then summoning Fen she put on her crash helmet and fired up the Suzuki.
They arrived at an old sandstone church in a part of town that was white working class. The terraced houses were larger than normal and all were well maintained. The area was slowly being gentrified, like damp slowly creeping up a wall. Cars stood to attention outside each front door waiting for their owners to summon them into life.
The Church itself, long de-commissioned, stood in a triangle of ground at the end of the street, the road having had its throat cut by pedestrian bollards so it morphed into a cul-de-sac. It was not really old like most English Churches but late Victorian in origin having been built at the time Darwin had plunged the dagger of evolution into the body of Christianity which a hundred years later would see such churches redundant. Science had beckoned the congregation to its temples of knowledge to worship in armchair comfort, whilst holding a laptop.
Having paid for a day pass they gained access to its cavernous interior. False ceilings had been hung along both side aisle ending near the pulpit. Signs hung on partition walls proclaiming showers and changing area, segregated by gender. With all the furniture and wooden artefacts stripped out for maximum space the centre aisle was festooned with equipment. However what dominated the space was a full size boxing ring which occupied the centre area where once clergymen and choir boys sang praise to an absent landlord.
“Snorks” said Fen pointed to about eight females lifting weights to their right. K-kay looked at them and agreed. “Snorks indeed.” she said under her breath. It was a term of abuse on her planet referring to females that exhibited hardness and courage, usually false, through dress and body art. Here the females were all heavily tattooed with numerous rings in ears, noses and belly buttons. Some had military type clothing while others wore very little. All were lithe to the point they would not be out of place on Kron9.
Fen34 had no need of body art or body piercings to proclaim a hard image, for she was the real thing.
What fascinated her was the boxing ring in which two heavily built men with protective helmets were exchange blows in 15 second bursts. A grey haired man was shouting out instructions while another, of a similar age, dressed in all black, was calling time were by each boxer broke to return to a corner rest for about a minute then resume.
The rest of the space was given over to men. About 20 plus males of various ages from grey haired individuals to mere boys undertook the task of punishing apparatus of mixed gender. An atmosphere of pure priapic aroma dominated, mainly perspiration to put it politely but male hormones dominated.
“That smell” Fen said in her own language with a look of pure disgust on her face.
“There he is” said K-kay taking Fen’s arm and leading her away to the side but unable to distract her attention from the ring. He was lying on his back on a recliner raising weights above his head then lowering them onto a cradle. His cheeks showed red from effort while sweat stained his white vest.
“Can we talk?” asked K-kay as she approached.
He stole a look sideways and replied, “Nope”, lifting the weights again.
Fen suddenly took an interest detecting a slight upon her colleague, striding up to the reclining figure she , with one hand raised the weights up to her chest. She raised them with such ease as if they were polystyrene replicas from a film set, that Carlo gave a gasp.
This antagonism was not what K-kay wanted.
“Give them back” she ordered ” and go an amuse yourself while I talk.”
Dropping them onto the helpless Carlo she strode off to ‘amuse herself’.
K-Kay squatted down so her mouth aligned with Carlo’s face.
“Sorry about that, but I want to know the relationship between male and female here, not sex the other?”
“Other?” he prompted.
“Why do humans help each other, why do some couples, male to female stay together long into old age, why help a stranger who can do nothing for you, why die for each other?” These questions flooded out of her for they had been brewing within her for weeks.
“How the hell should I know” Carlo answered with a mystified look on his face.
Before K-kay could answer he went on,
“Look, I am hired muscle. I do not get paid to think, my job is to look after Sultry who does get paid to think.”
“And you would die for her?” asked K-kay seeing an opening to the room of answers that lay beyond.
“I do not know, but... perhaps.”
“Have you lay with her?”
He gave a certain kind of smile that said ‘yes’ then he decided to come clean,
“On and off, nothing serious.”
“Oh, I understand casual sex ” K-kay assured him, “It is the deeper more meaningful relationships I do not understand.” She paused then offered an explanation for her query,
“Our quarry is receiving help, a lot of help from would be strangers. His immune system should have failed years ago, so I suspect he is getting help from ....” she paused..” the natives.”
Carlo laughed at the word, ‘natives’.
His interrogator changed tack slightly, “what attracts you to a female. Am I attractive?”
“Sorry, but no.” he answered honestly.
He lifted the weights then lowered them to his chest before raising them to the cradle again.
Glad to be doing something.
“Those” she pointed to the tattoo infested females nearby, “those Snorks are they attractive.”
“Hell no” he answered in disgust. “Snorks?” he asked with a puzzled look, the word being new to him..
Casting her eyes around to alighted on an open magazine that displayed a curvy celeb in a two piece swim suit. Picking up the magazine she showed the picture of the celeb with superb bosom, toned thighs and narrow waist.
“Is she attractive?”
At this he showed some embarrassment before admitting, “Well a little ” then added hurriedly,
“its all fake. Breast enlarged, rear end enlarged, waist trimmed, those type make million on just being in the press. Totally fake, and probably horrible to know.”
“So what you call ‘personality’ is important?”
“You bet” Carlo answered glad to be off the subject of enhanced female anatomy.
“Interesting ” mused K-kay leaning closer to him.
Carlo curiously felt on safer ground now so he explained,
“People tend to help people they like. Friends are important, to quid pro quid relationship without a contract. If you get my drift. Personality is important in friendships.”
K-Kay repeated her word, “Interesting.”
He lifted the weights then lowered them to his chest before raising them to the cradle again.
“So.. ” she went on slowly, “you would not help a stranger because you would not know his or her personality?”
“That is different.” Carlo said, “there is clan, a sense of belonging, a human bond that covers a wider thing. Hell, I am no academic, why ask me?”
K-kay spoke slowly and in a hushed tone in his ear. “Because you are a man,” then after a pause whispered, “I do not know many of them.”
In being so close to him she felt herself sensing his aroma, his being, his maleness. It both repulsed her and in enveloping her so completely, induced a sense of excitement, a sense she could not describe but later would call it arousal. A term alien to her in both its concept and execution.
He lifted the weights then lowered them to his chest before raising them to the cradle again, wondering what this was all about.
She refuses to let go feeling she is getting some answers.
“What is community spirit?” she asks in a soft voice so as to not antagonize him.
“Where I live there is an old man, call Jessie Williams. He is getting on so I put is bins out when the refuse is due to be collected on a Tuesday. My other neighbour takes them in for him when they have been emptied. That, I suppose , is community spirit but communities are fragmented these days, different languages, different cultures. Anyway what has that to do with finding our nurse?”
“I think” K-Kay answers slowly as if forming her ideas for the first time, “Our nurse is working , no helping our quarry, out of a sense of community spirit or kinship, not for money or glory or even sex.”
He lifted the weights then lowered them to his chest before raising them to the cradle again, before asking “So you do not think they are an item, then?”
She looks puzzled, “Item?” the term means nothing to her.
“Do they sleep together or do you want the crude version.”
“Ahh, me thinks not, no mating , no., of that I am sure.”
“Are you sure, she looked very attractive to me?”
“Knowing him, what he is, no they are not an ‘item’.” she stressed the last word as if amused by it.
“So she was attractive to you , was she?” she was now curious as to what this male found attractive as well as amusing herself for she felt she had him on a hook.
Before he could answer a clamour of cheering and shouting broke out in the part of the church which held the Boxing ring. They looked around to find a quite a crowd had gathered around the ring. They, in fact were the only persons not by the ring.
“What on earth is going on?” Carlo more stated than asked.
As they approached the crowd and the ring K-Kay felt a flush of panic pass through her for there in the ring, with boxing gloves, in shorts and a vest was Fen34. Also in the ring was the superb black athlete who with sweat on his bulging upper body looked both amused and puzzled. K-kay recognized him as one the two boxers she had seen earlier in some kind of sparring contest.
The number of Snorks had grown and it was they making most of the noise, chanting, “Let her fight.“and “Power to our sister.” Men on the other side of the ring were also making a noise some against the idea shouting “No Way” while others shouted, “Let him beat the bitch.”
Tempers were beginning to run high. So much so that the grey haired referee was between a rock and a hard place. If he refused the contest the female lobby would be up in arms saying he was sexist and it was discrimination, completely fired up with the belief that their sister had the beating of the man. If he allowed the contest he was about to have the female battered and it was against the rules.
He decided on two rounds of touch or shadow boxing , the one who touched the body of the other the most would be the winner.
Carlo exclaimed to K-Kay, “He can’t let them fight, he is a Northern Middle Weight champion. A good boxer. How insane.”
K-Kay took him by the arm and above the noise shouted in his ear, ” We have to stop it, she will kill him.”
He looked at her in disbelief, then said,
“No way, it is a meerkat against a wolf.” then he began to laugh uncontrollably pointing at the mismatch scene unfolding before him.
K-Kay just had time to say, “Help me get in the ring to save him.” when a bell sounded causing the two contestants move to the centre of the ring.
Amongst a cacophony of sound the two squared up, the male , a black athlete in peak condition against a thin, tall female of unknown abilities. The real boxer stood with his arms by his side swaying from side to side with grin on his face. Both had leather padded helmets on.
With all the grace of a ballet dancer the female moved effortless on her feet closing in on her opponent and landing a mock punch on his jaw. A man in black at the side of the ring marked one down in the female’s score card.
The ease with which she had landed the pulled punch surprised the boxer so in response he raised his guard and began to concentrate. Again she moved in but this time going low she landed two fast light touches to his midriff. Upper cuts perfectly executed at great speed.
" Two more for the lady”, shouted the man in black.
Now the boxer began to move his feet, raising himself on his toes moving quicker he sent two jabs out with his left but they only met air. He knew those two jabs had been near his best, fast and accurate yet they had scored nothing. Concentrating harder he began to hunch himself and closed in on his mirage of an opponent. Again he sent out a really fast left jab only to miss whilst he felt a slight blow to his jaw from a curving right hook.
“another one for the lady ” said the man in black.
“Shit!” he said to himself, “she really is good.”
By now the Snorks were in full cry seeing their boxer carrying the female flag to the opposition.
The contest continued in this vein, the boxer trying to touch the female with his gloves, she moving with speed and grace to avoid him whilst making contact herself. Twice he tried to rush her, to force her into the corner or on the ropes to use his superior weight and strength but twice she turned him with ease so it looked as if they were partners in a waltz. All the time the noise from the spectators was rising mainly for the female.
He began to feel humiliated when the bell halted proceedings.
“Stop making her look good” his coach said, “she is fast so hit were she ain’t.”
The boxer nodded realizing he should think more.
When the bell went and they came out for the second and final round, he had detected her pattern.
She nearly always moved to his right, leaning back not ducking. He was angry now and desperately wanted to show his metal, his worth. When he feigned a left jab he moved to his right and let fly with a powerful right hook. He caught her sending her flying backwards. This was no soft touch but a real punch. There was stunned silence.
After a second or two an uproar ensued with all the females shouting “shame” or “bastard” while the males on the other side of the ring cheered as if a goal had been scored. K-Kay knew she had to get into that ring to save the black boxer. She shouted close to Carlo, “You got to get me into that ring to save the guy.” Carlo looked completely puzzled so she ignored him and began to push through the crowd of men. It was not easy.
Meanwhile Fen soon recovered and moving with grim determination close upon her opponent. Without hesitation she left fly with three body punches of unbelievable speed that sent him reeling backwards then followed up with a crushing head punch that sent him staggering to his left only saved by the ropes. Clearly he was in trouble.
Undoubtedly Fen would have made the kill had not a voice issued a command in a strange language. K-Kay had reached the centre of the ring and with every ounce of authority she possessed was taking charge of the situation. For their part the crowd had gone silent unable to believe what they had just seen, then one female cheered “Victory” and soon the other females followed. With the Snorks clearly on her side Fen34 and K-Kay left the ring in safety while men gathered around the defeated boxer.
They were nearly out of the building when Carlo eventually caught up with them.
“They say it was a lucky punch but I do not buy that.” he said looking at K-kay.
“It was ” said K-kay “now forget you ever saw it.”
He was about to say, ‘I do not want to know who you are but what you are?’ but the look on K-kay’s face and the deadly expression being broadcast by her companion made him change his mind.
Instead he held up his phone.
“Good news.” he said , ” A text from Sultry , That detective, what’s his name?”
“Trent” filled in K-Kay.
“Ha, Trent, he wants a meeting, says he has made a breakthrough and is within a spit of finding our nurse.”
“But...” said K-Kay knowing there was a hitch.
“Needs a little help.” sighed Carlo slightly apologetic.