It’s still the same, every item is exactly where it was last night. I ran an experiment to see if it would reset, but it didn’t. This place has got to be real somehow, somewhere. My actions here have consequences, and I fear, that if I lose my mind in this place, I may never return to the sphere, I may never fulfil my goals.
My only release has been to document my journey as I travel it. I feel as though I’m getting better, this machine is revealing more and more secrets about Earth to me. Or perhaps this illusive benefactor is allowing me to see only the information that he decrees.
Enough of these thoughts.
I woke up very cold this morning, the pale blue light of the sun warmed the vessels in my eyelids; I opened them slowly. I was in a red clay pit, the caged lid hatched shadows on to the wall I had backed onto for comfort in the middle of the night.
A figure broke the incoming light in half; they were holding a bucket. I could see steam coming out of the top. I sprung up and pleaded, without fully knowing what was going to happen “No no no, don’t, I don’t…” Was all I got to say before the figure lobbed what I soon knew to be water down on to me. It was so hot, I could have melted a little bit.
The cage opened and the figure pulled me out and handed me a blanket to dry myself with. “The King’s got a thing about the smell of Torians, hence the shower” He saw that I had finished drying myself and signalled to two burly, mean-looking men.
Actually, I think one of them was a woman.
Either way, they held onto my arms and pushed me through bushes til we met with a small pathway. It wasn’t long at all before we came to a village. I had to be close to Tor still; a guy who calls himself the hundred-metre king can’t really stray too far.
In the middle of the town, right next to the village well stood a 5-metre-tall throne, and atop it, was a boy not much older than myself. He sat there brooding at me for a while, with his chin resting on his thumb and his index finger pointing up into his nose. I looked around for any cultural cue by one of his men, but all they offered were blank stares. “Ack khem” I awkwardly cleared my throat.
He sat forward and put his hand on the arms of the throne, curiously looking down at me. “So you want to be King huh?” He asked me.
“I WILL BE KING.” I asserted. I had to make sure my voice carried well on its way up. He stood, and leaned forward, raised his hands and plummeted head first at me. He flipped at the last second and thumped down in front of me. The height of his throne must have skewed my original assessment of the so-called king. He was much taller than I was, by at least a whole head length. His tiny ears poked through his curly brown hair, but it could have been dirty because his eyebrows were red. His crooked teeth contorted a smile into his freckled face.
“Stand up!” he barked. I had no choice but to comply. As I was standing though, I was given an opportunity; his sword was closer to my reach than his. I couldn’t pass this chance up. I snatched it. The fool instinctively went to grab the blade but stopped himself and sprung backwards.
His subordinates gasped and oohed. I could tell they were eager to see a show. I pulled out my diamond dagger and held both weapons up, and on guard. The Hundred-metre King yelled “Sword!” at one of the burly men/women from before, They threw a blade at his feet. He picked it up and pointed it at me. “You got some big stones kid.”
We stepped closer, but too far for an attack. We circled each other and without blinking he lunged, slicing down with an overhead strike, I parried. He came again with a backhanded slash; it was faster than I had anticipated. I dropped to the ground and narrowly avoided it. He stabbed for my chest, I rolled to the left and yanked at his extended arm, he fell forward and pierced his sword into the hard ground, before landing stomach first onto the handle, knocking the wind from his lungs.
The hundred-metre king squirmed in agony, I scuffled to aim my dagger at his throat. He felt its sharp point poke his neck and his writhing switched suddenly to a pannicked pant. “I yield, alright! I yield” He said. I picked up his sword and handed it to him, I dropped my guard.
The fight wasn’t over.
He threw dirt at my face, luckily only blinding one of my eyes. I stumbled backwards, flailing my dagger at the blurred shapes. He waited until I was rubbing the dirt from my eyes to attack. I only had an instant of clear vision to act. He thrust his sword recklessly at my face. I flicked my neck back, I grabbed his blade with my gauntlet clad arm, his clumsy weight followed my slight pull and once again my dagger was at his throat.
The seriousness left the hundred-metre king’s face with a simple grin “You’re good, you may pass” I didn’t let him loose. At the time, I thought it could have been another ruse to get me to lower my guard. “You’ve won, you’ve beaten me, I concede, don’t worry this ain’t no ruse to get you to lower your guard”
Still I didn’t release him.
“It’s over kid, we’re letting you through. Relax” I looked around to see the hundred-metre king’s people nodding in agreeance, and finally I let go. He sheathed his weapon, I waited for the click of his hilt before I did the same. He scanned over me with curiosity wrinkling his face. He extended his hand, I flinched before realising.
“I’m Mikado, Mikado Cent. The hundred-metre king” I shook his hand “Reks Twelve” He pulled me closer, nearly jarring my neck, and whispering through his teeth, he said to me: “You’re going to need me Reks. If you want any chance of getting out of here, and past the One-K Queen. Now smile and wave to the crowd, they need to think you’re joining the crew”
At this point I was confused, Mikado was acting like he had something devious planned, but I couldn’t know for sure. I waved to the people, I told them I was honoured to join them. It felt odd to deceive the group of strangers at the request of a stranger, but I didn’t want to disrespect the masses; they looked eager to turn on someone. Perhaps that’s why Mikado seemed like he wanted to get out.
“We’re going to feast tonight Reks, but since you’re our guest of honour now, since you beat me. So you’ll be spending the entire day in the mad hut. ” He told me.
“What? Why is it called that?” I asked worriedly. “Oh its just a ritual we invented, we made this hut out of fermented Maru vines. It really brings out your inner mind. You know, so we can see if your strong enough to lead us.”
Before I could make any more enquiries, the two huge goons led me to a small cabin where I laid; too full of adrenaline to sleep, to exhausted from the battle to move. It was a brief fight, but due to the rough night before, it had taken its toll.
My rest was cut short by Mikado rushing in and hastily closing the door and single window.
“We don’t have much time Reks, listen to me very carefully…” I sat up, with difficulty “…This whole thing has been a scam, if you didn’t beat me in our fight you would have been forced to climb the ranks from the bottom, and I mean the bottom, you’d have been forced to clean all the thunder mugs.”
He shuddered at the thought, I guaged that the ‘thunder mugs’ were something not related to weather or drinking. “We’ve been planning to over throw the One-Kilometre Queen for some time now, but no one has been brave enough to lead us; not even me. But now that you’re here, the crew seems motivated, they’re ready to pounce Reks, and I can’t let them get to her.”
The instant he said ‘Her’ I knew Mikado’s motive “You’re in love with the One-K Queen, aren’t you?” I asked him. “Ever since I heard of her and this racket she invented, that’s why I banded these thugs together and invented the Hundred-metre title, but I’m too scared to face her, and none of these oafs know how to speak to women. But I saw it in your eyes Reks, you are a romantic, you have passion, fire, you’re striding for love, not for power. That’s why you and me are going to slip out in the middle of the night. Don’t worry I’ll come and get you at a random time. And then we’re going to leave all this hundred-metre nonsense behind. Because together, you and me are going to finish the stride.”
He threw a lot of information at me, but before I could even think of a reply, he said to me “I gotta go, there almost done with the fire. Be ready Reks”
Shortly after he slipped out, there was a knock on my door and the goons urged me to put on this ridiculous hat made of twigs and bird feathers. Then we had a meal; which was quite tasty. These guys knew how to season a bird. I was so full of meat and maru wine by the end I could barely make it back to my cabin. But I got there and I fell into a deep sleep, for a moment I thought I wouldn’t end up here in this room.
It was blissful, if only for a moment.