Monday, July 30, 2012

Kaleidoscope, Ch. 7

She dangled her feet lazily as she sat on the park bench, smiling as a Frisbee whizzed over her head.  A pleasant breeze teased her hair and whistled through the young trees.  Smiling, she kicked off her sandals, got up from the bench, and wiggled her toes in the verdant grass.
            She scanned the park for her parents.  After a moment, she noticed a couple by the lake, skipping stones.  The man had his left hand low on the woman’s waist, and his right hand was stretched slightly behind him as he prepared to throw another stone across the water.  She walked closer and called out, “Mommy!  Daddy!” breaking into a run before they even turned around.  She saw the man throw the stone across the lake before facing her; it sank immediately, making wide ripples.
            Then she reached the edge of the lake where her parents were standing and leaned over to catch her breath.  “Serenity, you startled me,” Hijo said warmly.  Kasumi smiled and laughed, stroking her daughter’s cheek.  Then Kasumi reached into her purse and pulled out a wooden cylindrical object, about six inches long. 
            “You left your kaleidoscope when you ran out of the car,” Kasumi said, holding the object out to the eight-year-old.  “I was pretty sure you’d want it, so I kept it for you.” 
She thanked her parents as she accepted the toy, running her fingers over the kanji on the cherry trees painted on the tube.  Then she put the kaleidoscope up to her eye and turned the top portion like Hijo had shown her, giggling as the patterns changed.
            She suddenly wanted to give her mother and father a hug, to tell them she loved them.  She looked up from the kaleidoscope, but Hijo and Kasumi were no longer standing next to her.
            They were on the lake.  Hovering over the water.
            Hijo stood behind Kasumi; his left hand was around her stomach and his right hand was around her neck.  Suddenly, he turned his head toward his daughter and winked.
            Then there was a scream and a loud snap.
            Kasumi’s body went the way of the stone Hijo had tried to skip across the lake.
            Her head hung limply from her neck.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

"Black Lifestyle": my two cents

this post contains part of reaction to a link that went out on a college email list i'm still lurking on.  for some reason i didn't want to post my opinion there.  and yet i'm posting it on my blog for even MORE people to see.  the things i do don't make sense sometimes.

watch this video and see my response (edited some to make more sense) below.

It's strange to me that the people who replied to this on the list didn't have anything more noteworthy to say than "oh, this is cool."  People are generally so opinionated on other topics but it seems like this one did not strike the same chords, and I'm not sure why.

The first thing that came to mind when I watched this video was "Everything but the Burden," a reading I had to do for an African American Studies class on R&B.  I like that aspects of black culture can be appreciated in Japan, just as Japanese culture is appreciated and embraced by some black people over here (myself included).  But the fact that they reduce "black lifestyle" to "black women look good in these short outfits" or "I got frizzy hair when I was younger" or "I find black artists cool" is troubling.  There's no interest in black history, the struggles of the past and the present, anything of that sort.  Conversely, many of the people I know who are interested in Japanese culture have a much deeper interest than just anime, J-pop, and video games.  Why can't this profound appreciation be reciprocated?  Or if it is reciprocated, why do we never really hear about it?

Maybe I should just be happy that someone thinks highly of black women in some capacity, even if it's fairly superficial.  I don't know.  In any case, as a future doctor I can't condone the statement that tanning beds aren't harmful for the skin.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Kaleidoscope, Ch. 6

Eventually Mitsuru and Serenity said their goodbyes to Amake and Mane and left the mall.  Back at Botan’s house, Mitsuru helped Serenity carry her portion of their shopping bags into her room; then they too parted ways.
            Serenity organized her new purchases in her closet, smiling as she thought about the day.  Running into the Tategami brothers had been completely unexpected, but to say it had been a pleasant surprise would be a gross understatement.  As children, Serenity, Kaze, and Amake had been nearly inseparable. 
            She paused halfway between the nearest shopping bag and the closet door.  The red blouse she had grabbed hung loosely from her hands as she reminisced about her childhood friends.  Amusement park trips, after-school visits, fake arguments, inside jokes…How could so much time have passed like this?  She mused, feeling a little guilty about the lack of contact among them in the past ten years.  She was suddenly fairly sure of the reason why Amake was upset.
            A quiet tap on the door broke Serenity out of her nostalgic trance.  She hung up the blouse in her hands and went to open the door.
            Botan stood in the hallway, her usual sweet smile in place.  “Hey there, Sura.  I wanted to ask you something.  I was cleaning up the house earlier, and I found this.”  She held up a simple heart-shaped locket made of gold.  “I’ve never seen it before.  Is it yours?”
            Serenity took the locket from Botan and opened it.  She silently nodded in answer to Botan’s question when she saw the photograph inside.  It was of a woman in a formal white kimono; she was seated, with her hands folded in her lap.  Her hair, a darker shade of auburn than Serenity’s, was arranged in an elaborate traditional style.  A smile just barely touched her rouged lips, yet it lit up her entire face.
            Serenity’s eyes became a deep purple as feelings of love and longing washed over her.  She positioned the open locket so that Botan could see the photograph.  “My mother, Kasumi…she died when I was younger, before you took me in.  I cut up a picture from my parents’ wedding and put it in this locket on the day of her funeral…to remember her by.” 
Serenity could still recall the way her father, Hijo, had looked in the discarded part of the photograph.  He had been standing next to his new bride.  His posture had been stiff, too serious for the occasion.  The couple’s traditional clothing had appeared quite heavy, even in the photograph, but while Kasumi had worn hers with quiet elegance, Hijo had seemed crushed under the weight of his.  Serenity had found her father’s facial expression odd as well; like her mother, he had been smiling, but the smile had been stern, almost forced, and it had not reached his eyes.
            Botan cleared her throat, and Serenity looked up from the locket.  “Is this yours too?”  Botan was now holding up a wooden kaleidoscope.  Serenity recognized the painting on the side of the tube instantly—cherry trees in the fall, robin’s-egg-blue sky, curving blades of grass.  She took the kaleidoscope from Botan, put it up to her eye, and turned the barrel.  The beads inside tumbled slowly, like the percussion in a funeral dirge.  As she lowered the tube, a shadow seemed to pass over her, and the purple faded from her irises.
            She let the noise of the beads die away into silence before replying.  Her eyes shifted away from Botan’s face as she spoke.  “My father gave it to me when I was eight,” she said succinctly, hoping that she would not have to elaborate. 
But there were no further questions from Botan.  The two girls stood as still as statues in the doorway for a few seconds.
            The bright, penetrating sound of the doorbell eventually broke the silence.  Serenity watched the pleasant expression return to Botan’s face as if the dark cloud had never passed over their conversation.  Botan smoothed the front of her kimono and enthusiastically announced, “I’ll get it!” before hurrying to answer the door.  Serenity placed the locket and kaleidoscope on her dresser before following Botan downstairs.

“So what I’m getting here,” Amake asked, “is that you expect ‘I’m sorry’ to erase ten years of neglect?”
He was standing in the den, staring at Serenity from about five feet away.  After Serenity had introduced him to Botan, Botan had left them alone to talk.  Now, Serenity almost wished Botan had stayed downstairs to offer moral support. 
She cleared her throat and forced herself to meet Amake’s smoldering gaze.  “It’s all I have to offer.  Besides, I don’t know why this matters so much to you.  People lose contact all the time.”
“You don’t know why it matters?  We were your best friends, Serenity!”
Serenity was tired of the verbal tennis match.  She frowned at Amake.  The pink in her eyes gave way to red as some of the guilt she’d been feeling was replaced with annoyance.
“You were ten, I was eight.  Did you really expect to be pen pals or something?  And it was a two way street; you could have called me yourself.”
Amake crossed his arms and frowned back at her.  “I would have,” he said coolly.  “But when you disappeared after your mother died, you didn’t exactly leave us a phone number.”
Serenity suddenly remembered packing a backpack with clothes and money and leaving her parents’ house on foot all those years ago.  She opened her mouth to say something in response, but shut it again, nervously picking at a fingernail.
There was a brief moment of wordlessness between them.  Then Amake sighed, his expression softening.  He unfolded his arms and lowered his voice.  “Ren, I don’t want to be just a part of the life you left behind.  I never wanted that, and neither does Kaze.  You understand, right?”
Serenity slowly nodded in affirmation.  Then there was another pause, longer this time.  Finally, Amake broke the silence, and the tension in the air dissipated.  “I guess that’s all I can ask for,” he said.
“Then how about we let this go?  Call a truce?”  Serenity asked.  Amake merely smiled in response. 
He stared out the window at the darkening sky.  “It’s getting late, and I biked here.  Do you mind if I spend the night and leave in the morning?”
Serenity picked up a pillow from the couch and tossed it at Amake’s face.  Direct hit.  “Only if you don’t mind sleeping down here,” she answered with a grin.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Kaleidoscope, Ch. 5

Serenity awoke in Botan’s house late in the morning, wearing the same clothing she’d had on the day before.  Ratoshi’s gift, the curious scarlet pendant, was still around her neck.  Rays of sun streamed through the skylight, warming her face and body. 
She lay in bed for a while longer, trying to recall exactly what had happened in Ratoshi’s backyard the night before and how she’d ended up between the sheets of her own bed.  Nothing came to mind.  With a loud yawn, she extended her arms above her head in a deep stretch and eventually got up.  After showering and putting on a button down and a pair of denim shorts, she stood in front of the mirror and teased her hair, reshaping her customary faux hawk and side bangs. Her mind continued to draw a blank where the night before was concerned, no matter how hard she tried to remember.  Her eyes were tinged gray, reflecting the confusion and the dash of fear that were mixing in the pit of her stomach.
            Just as Serenity finished playing with her hair, there was a knock on the door.  “It’s open,” she said, wondering who had decided to pay her a visit.  With a sigh of relief, she noticed in the mirror that the gray in her eyes was beginning to fade to white. 
Turning from the mirror, she smiled as Mitsuru Yoshimara crossed the threshold.  They hugged, and Serenity stepped back to appraise Mitsuru’s outfit, hoping to learn something from her impeccable sense of style.  Today, she wore a colorful, knee-length dress that accentuated her curvaceous figure and wedge heels that seemed to lengthen her already long legs; her light denim jacket gave a casual touch to the ensemble.  Her long purple hair was pulled back into an up-do, drawing attention to her expertly made up face and prominent blue eyes.
            “Suru, you make me feel like I need a makeover,” Serenity whined.
            Mitsuru smiled warmly.  “A little retail therapy will take care of that soon enough.  I propose that we go shopping together today.  But first…” She reached into her purse and took out a brown paper bag, handing it to Serenity.  Inside were a pastry and a small bottle of juice.  “I brought you some breakfast.”
            Mitsuru sat and watched as Serenity ate, giggling at her attempts to keep up conversation around bites of cheese danish.  “So, I heard you had a bit of a rough night last night,” she began. 
Serenity fingered the barcode stamped on the back of her neck for a moment.  “Part of the night is a blur, actually.  The last thing I remember is sparring with Kurama.”  Her hand slid around to where the pendant still hung on its chain.  “I was in the backyard with him and Ratoshi.  But I woke up here.  The space in between is completely blank.”
Mitsuru nodded calmly.  “That’s because you were unconscious.”  She regarded Serenity’s genuine look of surprise and watched the faint gray hue appear in her irises.  “I happened to see Ratoshi and Rumichi before they flew you back home, and they told me that you’d fainted after beating Kurama in a sword fight.  Ratoshi said something about a lot of Spirit energy coming from you and the sword you were holding in the moments leading up to your collapse.”
Serenity took a couple of sips of juice while she silently pondered what Mitsuru had just told her.  After a few seconds, Mitsuru spoke again.  “Ratoshi also mentioned that there was something strange about your demeanor later in the sparring session.”
“Oh?  Can you define ‘strange’?”  asked Serenity.  A splash of brown joined the light gray in her eyes, an indication of her increasing curiosity.
“I’m not quite sure.  I think she said you seemed…fiercer…than usual.”
Serenity finished the last bite of her pastry, drained the remainder of the juice, and stood up, brushing crumbs off her clothes.  “That’s interesting.  I guess I got caught up in the moment.  Our contest did get pretty heated.  In any case, I never thought I could actually beat Kurama, especially with a weapon I’d never practiced with.”
Mitsuru got up and threw the paper bag and juice bottle away.  “Beginner’s luck, maybe?  Or perhaps you’re just naturally talented with a sword.  Who can say?”  She shrugged as she held the door open for her friend.  “In any case, enough thinking about the past.  Let’s focus on the here and now, and the money we’re going to blow in the near future.  Come on, I’ll drive us to the mall.”

A couple of hours later, Serenity sat with Mitsuru in a crowded food court.  Shopping bags of various sizes were piled at their feet.  Mitsuru had finished her lunch and was now fidgeting in her chair, anxious to get up from the table and back into some more stores; across from her, Serenity calmly sipped lemonade.
            “Sorry, Suru…I needed the break.  I never knew shopping could take so much out of a person,” said Serenity.
            “Beauty is a sacrifice, dear.”  Mitsuru replied with a wink.  She started gathering their purchases.  “When I’m through with us we’ll need a wheelbarrow for all this stuff.  Shall we continue taking the mall by storm?”
            Serenity nodded, pushing her chair backward. 
Before she could rise from her seat, a pair of hands covered her eyes from behind.  She squirmed, kicked, and tried to pull the foreign hands from her face. 
While Serenity struggled to free herself, she heard the scrape of Mitsuru’s chair against the floor.  “Would you like me to burn him alive?” she heard Mitsuru ask.  Serenity felt the surrounding air increase in temperature and knew that Mitsuru was preparing to change into her wolf demon form or set the intruder on fire if the need presented itself.
            Suddenly, the man removed his hands from Serenity’s face with a loud sigh.  When he spoke, his voice had a hint of laughter in it.  “Ren, I was only messing with you.  You and your BFF over there are no fun at all.”
            Serenity stood up and turned to face the newcomer, heart still pounding in her chest.  No one had called her Ren since she was eight years old; only people in the tight inner circle of her childhood even knew of the nickname.
She stared intensely at the man towering over her, trying to figure out who he was—or perhaps who he had been.  He wore basketball shorts and an athletic shirt that showed off his tan, well-muscled body.  A detailed lion head had been tattooed on his left bicep.  The gleam in his hazel eyes matched the mischievous smirk on his face.  His steely purple hair was bound in thick dreadlocks that reached the small of his back.  It was this final detail that allowed Serenity to identify him.
            “Oh my gosh…MANE?”  The blue and gold in Serenity’s eyes betrayed her feelings as she hugged the man.  Serenity broke free from the embrace and looked back at Mitsuru, who was scowling at the man.  Just as she was beginning to facilitate introductions, Mane stepped forward.
            “I’ll take care of this myself, Ren,” he said.  “My name’s Kaze.  Kaze Tategami.  My friends call me Mane on account of this stuff growing out of my head.”  He picked up one tight, heavy rope of hair between his thumb and forefinger before offering Mitsuru his hand.  She stared at his outstretched hand for a moment without blinking, and then shook it, allowing her eyes to wander upward to Mane’s face.  “Mitsuru Yoshimara.  I’ll forgo the ‘nice to meet you’ that you’re probably expecting; I was honestly a few seconds shy of burning you to a crisp,” she retorted.
            “I apologize for scaring you, but there was never anything to worry about.”  His mischievous grin widened.  “Besides, I don’t bite…unless it’s absolutely necessary.”  Mitsuru tried to keep a serious expression, but eventually her frown faded; Serenity was pretty sure she saw the beginnings of a grin on her face.
            Before Mane could work any more of his seemingly potent magic with her friend, Serenity stepped in to change the subject.  “Mane, is your brother here with you?”
            Mane pointed past Serenity.  “Amake’s coming to join us now.  He and I were using the virtual reality game in the arcade to spar, and I beat him pretty badly; he was probably off licking his wounds somewhere for a while.”
            “I heard that, Kaze,” said a soft voice from somewhere behind Serenity.  Her eyes widened as she turned around.  The man who stood in front of her beamed in response.  He looked much like his older brother, except that he had a smaller build, his body was less tan, and his hair barely came past his ears; his smile lacked the roguish edge that Mane’s had, but it was not devoid of its own captivating charms.
            Serenity allowed herself to be pulled into yet another embrace.  “Who would’ve thought we’d run into you, after all this time?” Amake muttered, his smile an afterthought on his lips.  Dropping his voice even lower so Mane and Mitsuru couldn’t hear him, he added, “Actually, I’m quite upset with you.”
Serenity pulled out of Amake’s arms slightly and searched his face for any sign of anger.  But his features were calm, and his smile still had not completely faded.  “Upset…?  Why?” she whispered in his ear.  “What did I do?”
            “We can discuss that another time.  Perhaps tonight, if you don’t mind me paying a visit.”
            Serenity nodded.  After a brief pause, Amake released her.  When they turned to face the others, Mitsuru commented on their long, dramatic hug.  Mane chuckled at Mitsuru’s wisecrack while Serenity and Amake glared at both of them in turn. 
A few minutes later, Mane, Mitsuru, Amake, and Serenity left the food court and strolled around the mall together, talking and laughing as if they all had been close friends for ages.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Kaleidoscope, Ch. 4

Later, after the sun went down, Serenity slipped outside to Ratoshi’s backyard.  Kurama’s words from earlier that afternoon still echoed in her ears.  “You’ve been interacting with the Spirit World for a while now.  Who knows what kind of powers could be latent inside of you as a result?  I have a feeling that the ability to teleport is only the beginning.”
She stood in the middle of the lawn, staring up at the sky.  It was a clear night, cloudless and full of stars.  Okay, she thought, taking a couple of slow, deep breaths, where to begin…?  She was pretty sure she couldn’t force herself to trip on purpose to see what would happen.  But perhaps she could recreate a situation involving imminent pain.
She walked over to the nearest tree and began to climb, hoping that her idea would work.  She stood on a rather large branch high off the ground and bounced deftly up and down a few times.  Acting quickly so she wouldn’t have time to change her mind, she tossed herself downward, hoping to feel that sense of weightlessness from before…
A few seconds later, she was staring at the imprint she’d made in the soft ground, brushing dirt off her face and the front of her clothing.  “Brilliant idea,” she muttered to herself, wondering how exactly to proceed.
“It’ll come with time,” uttered a voice from above.  Serenity looked up and found Kurama, calmly perched among some sturdy branches right above her head.  Ratoshi Verdesca sat, smirking, beside him, her hand intertwined with his.  Blushing, her eyes pink with embarrassment, Serenity asked, “How long have you two been up there watching me make a fool of myself?” 
Ratoshi’s green eyes twinkled almost maliciously.  “Relax, Funaka…I’ve been watching you make a fool of yourself since the day we met.” 
“Shoo, Halfbreed,” Serenity retorted, rolling her eyes and motioning for Ratoshi to go away.
Kurama only chuckled softly.  Then, without warning, he flung something down at Serenity.  She staggered backward in an effort to avoid the projectile, but seemed to fall short of evading it.  Moments later, she was positioned on a branch not too far away from where Ratoshi and Kurama sat.  Folding her arms and glaring down at the thorny rose Kurama had just used as a dart, Serenity said, “When you told me this would come with time, I didn’t think you were planning on speeding up the process…”
Kurama smiled and jumped down from the lofty branches, still holding Ratoshi’s hand.  They landed lightly on the ground; Serenity followed suit and walked over to them.  “Don’t worry, it wasn’t premeditated.”  When he saw that Serenity’s eyes were tinged red with anger and her sullen expression hadn’t softened, he quickly changed to a lighter topic.  “The real reason why we’re here is that Ratoshi wanted to give you something.”
Ratoshi unwound herself from Kurama, reached into a pocket, and dropped a necklace into Serenity’s hand.  “I was going to give it to you a long time ago,” she said, “but you know how it is.  Things have been pretty hectic for a while now with reunion preparations.”  Serenity held the necklace by its golden chain, letting the scarlet, half moon shaped pendant on the end dangle before her eyes.  It looked like exactly the type of trinket Kurama would have stolen back when he was a thief in the Makai; it glowed magnificently in the moonlight.  As Serenity looked back at her friend and thanked her, Ratoshi motioned for her to put the necklace on, groaning and helping Serenity when she fumbled with the clasp.  The pendant came to rest below her collarbones and immediately grew warm, changing from scarlet to white.  All three of them watched as two wakizashi* appeared, one in each of Serenity’s hands.  The blades steadily glowed a pale blue with Spirit energy.  Serenity admired the swords, too excited to speak, her eyes golden once again.  “I know how much you love swords,” Ratoshi confessed, “so I figured you’d find this gift quite useful.”
Serenity nodded, looking down at the swords in her hands again.  “Thanks, Rato.”  She regarded both of her friends.  “I don’t think watching samurai movies is enough to say I’m a swordsman—er, woman—though.  Anybody want to help me start getting acquainted with these?”
Kurama looked at Ratoshi, whose shoulders hunched forward.  “Right now?  The two of us are tired…we were planning on turning in.”  She yawned as if for emphasis.
Serenity sighed and poked her lower lip out, pleading playfully.  “Come on, indulge me for a second.  Please?”
Ratoshi frowned and stood there for a second, thinking.  “Okay, Funaka, we’ll stay.  But I’m sitting this one out.”  She gave Kurama a peck on the cheek, strolled over to a fallen log, and sat down, crossing her arms.  “I guess you’re up, Fox.”
Kurama shook his head at his girlfriend as Serenity tossed a glowing wakizashi in his direction.  As he caught the sword by the hilt, he suggested some ground rules.  “Let’s make this easy.  Best two out of three kills.”  He stepped back until the distance between them was about twenty feet.  He then crouched into a wide stance, sword pointing straight in front of him.  Serenity felt she was being invited to strike first.  She took a few steps back, ran forward, and pushed off the ground with her sword raised over her head, closing the distance between herself and Kurama in midair.  He deftly blocked each of her subsequent attacks with his sword, his movements almost imperceptible.  When she finally jumped back a couple of yards to catch her breath, he smiled.  “You’re trying too hard.” Serenity heard Ratoshi cackle loudly and glared at her.  She barely had time to snap her head back and shakily parry a powerful blow from her opponent.  They struggled together for a few moments before one of Serenity’s knees lowered to the ground.  Kurama pushed her, and she fell on her back, groaning more in disgust than in pain.  He pointed his sword at her throat.  “Kill,” he muttered under his breath.  Ratoshi applauded with a smirk on her face.
Serenity got up, eyes red with anger and green with determination, lips pulled back in a snarl.  Note to self: NEVER let your guard down.  She took a minute to focus, then began to run toward Kurama.  He met her halfway, and they traded blows back and forth for a couple of minutes.  The sound of steel blades clanging against each other filled the air.
Flipping in the air to dodge a slash from Kurama’s sword, Serenity quickly took a few steps backward and tried to focus on teleporting.  She shut her eyes and jumped straight up as Kurama prepared to swing at her again, silently celebrating when instead of landing in her original position and relinquishing another kill, she landed some distance behind him.  As he turned around to begin another assault, she rushed at him with her sword pointed straight ahead, stopping only a few inches short of impaling him in the chest.  “That’s…a kill,” she said, her breathing ragged.
They separated and took up fighting stances once again.  Nothing, not even a blade of grass, seemed to move as Serenity and Kurama gazed at each other without blinking.  Each was so focused on the other, waiting for the first offensive move to be made, that neither one of them took in their surroundings.  As if on cue, they both lunged forward at the same time, swords meeting between them.  They both jumped backward and ran to attack each other again and again, falling into a certain rhythm; there was no sign that either would falter.
Sweat poured from Serenity’s forehead and neck.   She was concentrating so intensely on getting the winning kill that she didn’t notice that the amount of Spirit energy emanating from her sword—and coursing through her entire body—was steadily increasing.  Suddenly, Kurama jumped back, breaking the subconscious pattern they had set.  He was shielding his eyes as if momentarily blinded.  Now’s my chance!  Her eyes fully green now, she dashed forward, her weapon flashing beside her.  Trying her hardest to mimic the exact motions and mindset from before, she teleported directly behind her opponent and caught him in a tight sleeper hold with the blade of the wakizashi pressed lightly against his neck.  “Kill!” she growled huskily, pushing Kurama away from her.  He lost his balance and ended up in a sitting position on the ground.  Ratoshi ran over to him, helping him stand again. 
“Are you that happy you’ve won, Funaka?” Ratoshi asked, a sneer in her voice.  “You’re glowing.  Literally.”  It was then that Serenity looked down at herself and realized that her body was alight with energy.  The pendant hanging from the chain on her neck was a white-hot flame.  Without warning, as if overcome by what she saw, Serenity began to tremble, sinking to her hands and knees.  Her sword fell from her hands and immediately stopped emanating Spirit energy.  “Shut up…Halfbreed…” she managed before collapsing on the ground.

*wakizashi: a mid-length Japanese sword used by samurai

Monday, July 2, 2012

Kaleidoscope, Ch. 3

As Serenity expected, Rumichi left her and Kurama in the dust at the start. For a few seconds, she and Kurama were keeping a similar pace, but in a burst of energy he suddenly left her behind. I’ll get you, Fox… she said to herself, jumping down to the ground for the advantage of relatively level terrain, pumping her legs faster in an effort to close the gap—
Suddenly, Serenity felt herself falling in what seemed like slow motion. “Shoot!” she yelled in surprise. She didn’t even remember tripping over anything, and she refused to believe that her feet had tangled beneath her. She squeezed her eyes shut in preparation for the impact that would surely follow...
The ground never rushed to meet her. Instead, Serenity found herself back among the treetops with nothing more than a shallow scratch near her ankle. Dazed, she tried to assess the situation as she began to pick up speed. The fallen log that marked the finish line was just within her range of vision. Rumichi and Kurama weren’t anywhere in front of her as far as she could tell, and they weren’t close behind either. At least, not yet, she admitted, but what in the world happened down there?
A rustling through the leaves a little ways behind Serenity made her realize how slow she’d been moving. She didn’t know which one of her opponents was chasing her, but it didn’t quite matter. Gotta win this, gotta win this.
Less than ten yards now separated Serenity from a long-sought-after victory over Rumichi. A triumphant cheer was just beginning to form in her throat when a fist struck her left side. Serenity winced as Rumichi’s voice whispered :No holds barred: in her mind again. She hardly noticed the loud “No!” that escaped her as she pushed forward, but she felt a momentary weightlessness of her body. Before she could even wonder what had happened, she crashed to the ground, about a yard past the fallen log. She looked up to see Rumichi jog to her side a mere second later.
Panting, Rumichi put her hands on her knees, reverted back to her human form, and glared at Serenity. “What...the heck...was...that all about?” she wheezed.
Serenity sat up, fingering the barcode tattoo on her wrist thoughtfully. “Michi, I honestly have no idea.” She acknowledged Kurama as he smoothly stepped over the log and walked toward them. “Earlier, I must have tripped over something,” she explained to both of them, watching as Kurama became his usual red-haired self again. “But instead of hitting the ground, I found myself in a tree. What do you guys think happened?”
Kurama pondered this deeply. The answer he eventually came up with was met with surprised expressions from both girls. “Teleportation.”