Zanzibar – Part 31
Zanzibar – Part 31
by Lori Carlson
Hemi sighed as he watched his new trainees. When he volunteered to train these three, he thought they’d at least be willing participants, but that just wasn’t the case. Hannah hated violence of any kind, Astair wouldn’t concentrate, and although Maggie was the most enthusiastic of the three, she wouldn’t follow orders. It was nearing lunch time and Hemi wanted some manner of success before he had to report in with Ms. Simone after lunch.
Hemi clapped his hands and moved to the center of the room. “Listen, mates. We’ve been at this all morning and we are running out of time. Two days. We have just two days to get you ready.”
“Can’t we rest a bit?” Hannah asked as she flung herself down on the floor.
“No, honestly we can’t. You can stay there for a few while I work with Astair, but then you and I need to do some serious practice. Okay?”
Hannah nodded as she stretched out and cradled the back of her head with her folded arms.
Hemi grabbed a pole and tossed it to Astair. The pole crashed to the stone floor in a metallic ring. Blushing, Astair picked it up and held it loosely in his hands.
“Not like that,” Hemi said.
“Don’t hold it so limp. You need to grasp it tightly with both hands or it will be knocked away and you will be defenseless. Let me show you.”
Hemi picked up a pole and lunged toward Astair. Holding the pole vertically, he whipped it under Astair’s pole, sending it flying through the air. He then shoved the pole at Astair’s stomach, just close enough to make gentle contact.
“See what I mean? Now pick up the pole,” Hemi ordered.
Astair slowly nodded his head, but his mind flashed back to his boyhood days on the playground in the Bronx. He’d been horribly bullied and instead of defending himself, he’d cowered away. He often wandered to the dugout at the New York Knickerbocker’s ballpark. His dad had taken him to see them play a few times, but the team disbanded and the ball field was deserted. He’d gone there that day after a bunch of kids had ganged up on him – the day he fell through some kind of wormhole and landed in the Smoke. He’d wandered into the village and lived there for many years before discovering the passageway to the cavern. Astair’s mind wandered back to the present and he bent down to pick up the pole. Just then, he felt a stinging wack across his back.
“Hey! That wasn’t fair,” he yelled at Hemi after he picked up the pole and stood upright again.
“Never turn your back on an opponent,” Hemi replied. “Maggie, get over here and spar with Astair,” he said as he tossed his pole at her.
Although she appeared to be staring off into space, Maggie caught the pole with her right hand and turned toward Hemi with a grin on her face. She took a position across from Astair and leaned forward, the pole held tightly in her hands. “Prepare to defend yourself,” she growled.
Maggie had been a thief in her prior life before falling through an opened sewer drain as she tried to escape from the police. She had expected to splash into some disgusting water, but had instead ended up in the Smoke. She had found the village, but was soon tossed from there and into the Smoke again for stealing an apple. Nellie had found her and brought her to the cavern. She still stole petty things now and again, but no one seemed to punish her for it. Maybe that was why she was so bored all of the time, but not now. Hemi had given her a purpose.
Finally, Hemi surmised as he grinned back at Hannah. He’d gotten Maggie engaged in something other than space. He walked over to Hannah and leaned down over her. “Time to get up.”
Hannah opened her eyes and sighed, but got up off of the floor. She dusted off her pants and faced Hemi, who handed her a long knife. She stared at it for a few moments and then looked up at Hemi with a wrinkled brow.
“You’ve got to learn,” Hemi said as he walked over to a large bag of flour hanging from a hook in the ceiling.
Hannah joined him, but kept glancing at the knife and then the bag of flour. She’d never killed anyone. Hell, she couldn’t even harm an insect. And now she was supposed to use a knife? Hannah had been a young, idealistic civil rights lawyer in New York City during the height of the Civil Rights Movement. She’d been all hyped-up to join in the Selma to Montgomery march, but on the day she was to leave, she had stepped into her closet for a coat and ended up in the Smoke instead. Ethan had found her and brought her to the cavern. She glanced back down at the knife and shivered.
Noticing her shiver, Hemi walked behind her and embraced her body with his own. “It’s okay, Hannah. Let me show you.” He leaned in and took her hand. As he lunged their bodies forward, he plunged the knife at the air, over and over again. “I know your history,” he whispered in her ear. “Just think of it as some racist thug trying to kill a black man and you are the only one who can stop him.”
Hannah allowed Hemi to use her hand to stab at the air a few more times and then shrugged him off. “I’ve got it,” she said as she leaned in toward the bag of flour and began slashing it with the knife.
Hemi stepped back and watched Hannah. It was as though all of the anger she’d been harboring had suddenly came out. Flour flew about the room as she raged at the bag. Hemi smirked and glanced over at Maggie and Astair. They were in a vicious battle with the poles and Astair was actually defending himself. He leaned against the stone wall as his mind drifted back to his gang and their training days. They’d all become a fierce force capable of defending themselves against any foe. Suddenly, a tear fell down his cheek. He really missed his mates.
This is now a round-robin between Keith Channing and I.
If you missed a chapter, click to read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6,Part 7, Part 8, Part 9,Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14, Part 15, Part 16,Part 17, Part 18,Part 19,Part 20, Part 21, Part 22, Part 23, Part 24, Part 25, Part 26, Part 27, Part 28, Part 29, Part 30
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