Escape 19-VII

Nobody’s Poet.

Occam had pulled the knife out of his foot, and even in the low lighting, I could see how nasty the wound was. I was actually a little impressed he could put any weight at all on it.

Only a little, though.

Foresight had put the hurt on him, but apart from the hole in his foot, he was still better off than I was. Considering none of my injuries were as specifically debilatating as his (my shoulder was probably on the same level, but I could manage a lot easier with one arm than he could with one foot), and we were on about even footing, pun completely intended.

I tried an exploratory jab, just a probe, and he batted it aside. The movement was inefficient, though, and he had to shift his weight slightly to do it, causing him to wince. I wanted to capitalize on that, strike while he was on the back foot (also intended), but by the time I began to move he’d already recovered. I was slow, sluggish; every part of me ached and moaned, and my reflexes were all over the place.

As if to prove the point, he swung both swords horizontally, and the only thing I could do to get out of the way was let my legs collapse underneath me and fall to the ground. I did manage to pink him as I fell, though, just below his ribcage. There was no resistance from the blade at all; it was like swinging through air. Crimson, dark in the half-light, sprayed out from the wound, and he hissed and took a step back. Which was good, because the landing nearly did me in.

“I am,” I wheezed after the pain had receded to manageable levels, “spending too much fucking time on my back today.” There was probably a joke there.

Miraculously, I hadn’t lost my grip on the sword or stabbed myself with it, which I’d half expected given what the day had been like up until that point. I stabbed it downwards into the concrete, sinking to about halfway up the blade, and used it as a leverage point to stand. The motion sent another spike of pain through my chest, and a few violent, racking coughs shot through me. I could taste iron in the back of my throat, setting off another round of coughing, and the taste evolved into the uncomfortable sensation of liquid swishing around in there. I nearly vomited, and the leftover nauseau from the trip didn’t help.

Occam hadn’t come any closer while I’d been incapacitated. In fact, he’d actually taken a few steps away and dismissed one of his swords, holding the now-free hand to the cut at his side. Between that, the gashes Foresight had given him and the vent in his foot, he was probably losing blood at a very unhealthy rate. If I just walked away, he’d probably topple over within a few minutes. Then again, if I tried to walk away, I’d do the same. So now we were playing the world’s slowest, most bleed-y game of chicken, where the most likely reason for someone to blink first was that blood had dripped into their eye.

The sword came out of the ground with about as much resistance as it had going in, and I held it at a loose ready as I approached Occam. Well, I say ‘approached’, but ‘trudged’ was probably more accurate. I swung first, and he amateurishly parried and hit back. We exchanged a few blows like that, neither of us able to put any real force behind them, and the blades proved to be as unable to cut each other as they were able to cut everything else. He pinked me, on my useless arm, I returned the favor on his cheek. Within barely any time at all, both of us were panting, and practically slumping over on our feet. It was, without a doubt, the most pathetic fight I’d ever been in.

I summoned up what remaining gumption I had, and threw it behind one powerful strike, straight overhead, like chopping wood. Wasted energy: he managed to catch it, hand coming away from his side to support the block. Then, just to make matters worse, his hand snaked up past it, tapped the side of my sword, and it disintigrated into dust.

Wondered why he hadn’t done that, I thought, far too calm, as I fell towards the sword’s edge. I was off-balance, already tipping, and if nothing changed my head would come rolling cleanly off. Gravity and inertia were holding me to my course, so the only option was to make him alter it instead.

Which sounds very fancy and clever, but really what I did was spit the mouthful of blood I still had straight into his face.

It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t dignified, but it did the job. He jerked back, sword moving out of a lethal position as he screamed. It had gotten in his eyes, which couldn’t have been fun.

I could’ve stopped my fall, but instead I leaned into it, hitting Occam with all my weight and baring him to the ground, weary and bloody hands closing around his throat. The impact drove all the breath out of him, which was convenient for me; I tightened my grip as he began to gasp and choke. His hands began scrabbling for the sword where it had fallen a foot away, but I moved on leg to kneel on top of his arm and pin it to the ground.

Slowly, his struggles grew more frantic, and less energetic, until they stopped entirely and he slumped, eyes rolling back in his head. Hastily, I released my grip and leaned back: I wanted him unconscious, not dead.

Speaking of which, unconsciousness was sounding pretty nice right about then. I didn’t think anyone would mind too much if I just lay down and had a little nap…

Hands caught me before I could keel over, grabbing me by the armpits and hoisting me to my feet. “Easy there, Flint,” said a worried voice. “We got them, it’s all good.”

With some effort, I pushed an eye open halfway for long enough to get a snapshot. Tide and Foresight were standing in front of me, looking worse for wear but alive and upright. Process of elimination told me that Freefall was the one holding me up. “Never doubted you for a second,” I murmured.

“Great, yay, touching.” Foresight rolled his eyes. “Can we go now?”

“We could,” I said tiredly, “except for the fact that I’m reasonably certain I can’t walk-” Freefall hoisted me up completely off the ground, and before I could react she was carrying me, bridal-style. “Uh.” I didn’t have it in me to make a thing of it. “...thanks,” I said awkwardly, patting her on the arm. I wasn’t light, but you wouldn’t know it from how casual she seemed.

“Don’t worry about it,” she replied gruffly. A little… too gruffly? Nah, I was being dumb, slash concussed.

“Sorry to be a spoilsport, then, but I don’t think I could deal with any more jumps.”

“We’ll walk, then,” Tide said reassuringly. “It’s not far.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, only about 10 minutes.” She smiled.

“Besides, it’s not like we’re in any rush to get back.”

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