The Second Night

I have returned to the room, still, no escape. I’ll continue to recount my days until I find the answer.

My father was right, today I went to school and announced my intentions. There were glistening eyes all around. I think most of them were more shocked than anything. One thing I had noticed, was that there was no Victor. To be honest the thought of him being there had given me great anxiety this morning. I was certain he would try and end me right then and there in front of everyone. I didn’t ask anyone where he was. I knew, after thinking it through, he left for his stride already.

From the moment I declared my stride I had this strange feeling, this ominous energy vibrating through me. It could have just been adrenaline or the lack of Victor and his ability to negatively charge everyone against everyone else. Either way, I felt empowered, as though I was already king and I was visiting my old neighbourhood after years of being away.

And other weird things were happening, my classmates and people I was under the impression didn’t think I existed, were coming up to me and telling me how much they believed in me, and believed I could get to Sovereign City before Victor. My ego was inflating, but I did my best not to let it show. I tried instead to hone my focus on finding Sephina.

She and I had spent a few classes together before we each decided to take different paths of trade. I thought we connected though, she’d somehow manage to know what I was talking about when I was rambling a nonsensical notion or theory.

Then through the crowd, I spotted her. Leaning against the wall to the auditorium. Her hair was black, but when the sun shone onto it, it was almost green, which made the speckles of emerald in her hazel eyes burst. She looked to me with those entrancing eyes, blinked slowly and walked away towards the streets. I could tell she was telling me something, our minds were in tune, and I made chase through the rest of the bustling school crowd.

In the winding streets of Tor, I followed her for as long as I could, but she was nimble and gracefully swift, darting around corners playfully adrift. I lost her for only a moment, it was then that she jumped out of a shadowy alleyway and scared the soul out of me. She grabbed my hand and smiled before dragging me along, letting out spurts of laughter every so often. I was too excited to ask where we were going, but I had a good Idea.

After I thought my chest was sure to burst; we arrived at what I could only assume was her house. I managed to gain a glimpse at a painted portrait of her family before she thrust me into her bedroom and closed the door, confirming my suspicion of where I was.

“Reks, this year I’m going to stride…” I looked at her awaiting the rest of her sentence. She stared into my eyes; unyieldingly “…Well, you know how it goes” She continued. I knew exactly how it went, yet I still didn’t reply. “I know you’re going to be king, I’ve known it for some time, and I know, we don’t know each other that well, but it’s perfect, you stride now, I’ll raise our child until it’s time for me to stride. Then my parents will take over those duties so I can stride to meet you, and ultimately dethrone you.”

“You’ve put a lot of thought into this Sephina” I said “You have no idea Reks, I’ve been looking for a rival ever since I started school, there was no way it was going to be Victor, the guy has no concept of morality, he just wants to be the best. But you, you want to the best for everyone.”

At this point she mounted my lap and held my head between both of her hands. “I look forward to your challen…” Was all I managed to blurt before she kissed me. I had never kissed a girl, her lips were soft, but she squished them hard against mine. In the moment, I ran my hands through her hair, it was so smooth it felt like water. My fingers caught a knot and she inhaled sharply, followed quickly by a moan.

She pushed me backwards against her bed, I looked up to her messed hair and seductive eyes. She crawled closer; slowly. I could feel an energy in my chest swell, I grew warm with trepidation, though I was not scared. I eagerly anticipated her touch, her embrace, her breath on my skin. She ripped the shirt from my body, revealing it to the cold morning air. Her hair painted my torso with the scent of berries and flowers, starting at my belly button, ending at my neck. I grew chill-bumps all over.

She kissed me again, and her hand reached down to my pants. I found my own hands searching every crease and dimple of her body, I slid her shirt over her head, her pert breasts bounced only once as her top left her body. They filled my hands as I scanned over her chest. She cooed with delight as my cool hands perked her nipples within my grasp.

We laid next to each other and she removed her skirt, I followed suit, removing my pants and underwear. We delved into her blankets. I sprang onto her, my arms extended beside her shoulders. She stroked them up and down, slowing whenever her finger tips found a pulsating vein.

“You are beautiful” I stated, and she looked at me, her face gave me the impression she had never been told that before, and if she had, she knew it wasn’t sincere.

I meant it, with all my being. I found her to be the most beautiful person I ever laid eyes upon, and would ever lay eyes on. The feeling in my chest, in my heart, my head and my loins could never be replicated.

We embraced each other, our souls stitched together from the waist up, we were one, her body accepted mine and mine refused to let hers go. We struggled to produce words greater than one syllable, and in our climactic moments she spouted the words I had thought only in fantasy existed “I love you” She said. My brain ignited with euphoria “I love you, I love you” I proclaimed.

Together we rested on her bed; exhausted, enchanted by the aura of each other, paralysed within ecstasy. Rain clouds darkened the already dim room, our bodies emanated a luminous purple hue. I had done it, I produced an heir. I chuckled a rapid exhale; the teachers at school told us of this phenomenon but I always scoffed in disbelief. It really is beautiful, and I couldn’t do much more than bask in her warmth. We laid on the bed for a short-lived eternity.

And then she stood up, she broke my trance, and her next words broke my heart “You should go Reks, your glow won’t last more than an hour, and you’ll need to prove you made an heir to the gatemen”

She smiled, putting on a blue dress, her glow was intoxicating, and she’d be that way until my child is born.

I awkwardly gathered my clothes, rarely taking my eyes off her. I was putting my last shoe on when Sephina stepped in front of me “I’m going to kiss you once more Reks, for luck, and then I’m going back to school to train for my stride” She kissed me, and in that moment, I told myself: “Just stay Reks, convince her to stay too, you can have a wonderful life together; raising your child, teaching them everything you know, and living” I didn’t want this to end; but the kiss ended. I knew that if I wanted that life I had to stride, I had to beat Victor, I had to persevere through all hardships. For that life.

Once we left Sephina’s place, we parted ways. She went to school and I headed straight for the first diamond gate; the only gate out of Tor. It was all a blur; the walk was long and full of turns but it was over in a few blinks. My mind was fixated on Sephina’s image, I couldn’t scrub her from the inside of my eyelids, and I didn’t want to.

Suddenly, I was at the entrance to the diamond gate, with a gateman in my face telling me to walk into a dark corridor for examination. I just walked to where he pointed without really processing what was happening, it was embedded in me from my schooling to just listen to the guardsman and he’ll set you on your stride, and then I was standing in front of the diamond gate.

It loomed over me, nothing prepared me for the magnitude. I felt tiny. I felt sick. I looked around, I was in a fenced off area, a large sign was plastered onto the wall; it read: ‘Guardsmen wanted, failed striders encouraged!’ And below it was a long, attempted-to-be-cleaned stain. The smell struck me with an image, it was the vomit stains of everyone who was too scared to move on. I felt the bile in my stomach rise to my throat. “No!” I told myself I swallowed the sick and turned to the guards above me on the fence. I could see that their faces were eager for another ‘puker’. They probably had bets on when I would run home. “It’s not too late to turn back kid” One of them called out.

“Open the gate!” I roared. The guards looked shocked. One nodded to another and the gate opened. I wanted the blur from before to come back, but no the gate opened so slow, and I was frozen. “Hey kid…” The guard called “…Congratulations on becoming a father, I hope you make it out there.”

I turned forward and stepped out into the Second City. It was chaos, or maybe I was just too used to the pace of Tor’s lifestyle. People were rushing everywhere with a mission carved into their face. Nobody seemed to care that I had just exited Tor. The odd person would look me up and down, some of them may not have seen the purple glow before, but I think they were seeing if I had anything worth stealing.

My parents always told me that Second City was a cutthroat place, full of thieves, criminals and con artists, but it was only when I left Tor, that I came to meet them and judge for myself. I grabbed a meal from one of the local street bars and headed for the second gate. I reached the tree line and I heard a very familiar horn bellow out above the forest.

Just as I was about to take another step.

“DON’T YOU TAKE ANOTHER STEP!” Someone warned. Within seconds I was surrounded by 20 men with pikes aimed at my eyeballs. “Nobody leaves without the King’s permission” I was shocked “There hasn’t been a King in 70 years. What King?” I demanded to know. One of the pikemen flipped his pike around and smacked me in the guts. “The hundred metre King, genius. Take him through.”

I was dragged through the forest; my stomach was on fire. They didn’t take me far when we came to a clearing. In my pain haze, I could see a slapped together village, made from what I could only assume was the thrown-out garbage of Tor, and old building remains from Second City. I was taken to a pit with a caged lid on it. The guards threw me in, and I must have hit my head because after that, I was here, in this inescapable room.

I know I’m closer to my goal of becoming King, but I feel as though I’ve taken a massive side step instead of a stride forward. I’m still yet to learn more of this benefactor of mine and I have no idea why there is a Hundred-Metre-King or why I have to confront him. I will leave it here tonight, I have much to think of and even more to prepare myself for.

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