Chapter 56:

The Age Of Loneliness

DOPEMAN


Peace.Bookmark here

Or, something close to it. Bookmark here

 For now. I feel like I can breathe. I started back smoking with Fisher and Tann. We drink and talk for a bit. We were sitting one night. We sat around a campfire, laughing after I told the story about my tournament exploits. Bookmark here

"Wait," Kyle puts his hands up, chuckling like a fool. "You telling me you lost after all that?"Bookmark here

I shrug as I took a huff of the cancer stick. "The woman was overpowered. She could kill anybody in there. If that wasn't the rule, I would be dead. Most likely."Bookmark here

Sam decided to chime in. "Tell me the last part, bro. That was the best part."Bookmark here

"So, here we are, kicking each other's asses, right? I was on the floor, then I get this sudden burst of life. We fought and struggled some more. I had her in this chokehold..."Bookmark here

"Kinky-" Fisher joked. The group had a good chuckle. Bookmark here

"Shut up! As I was saying, I was choking her out, but I was so low on strength and blood, I passed out. I was gone. She won."Bookmark here

Tann took my cig and popped it into his mouth. "Shame, shame. You know, that's a good idea. We should do that, just not as bloody." Bookmark here

I nodded and laugh. "There's has to be a prize. Like a nice clock."Bookmark here

"Something better than a clock." Fisher passed a nice unopened pack of cigars. We all looked at it with shock. "Pre. War. Cigars." Since every single man and woman in the camp is a chronic smoker. They would get in on this in a heartbeat. Bookmark here

I hold the pack in my hands. "Perfect."Bookmark here

Tann agreed. "I'll get some rounds ready tomorrow."Bookmark here

We eventually head back since it was late. I was drinking a bit of water when Mox followed me. "Hey, Dopeman."Bookmark here

"Yo. Need something?"Bookmark here

"Yeah. I was overhearing the conversation..."Bookmark here

"You want the cigars, don't you?"Bookmark here

"Of course! I haven't had those in years. The wonderful tobacco...Geez..."Bookmark here

I chuckle. "Oh relax, boss. What did you need?"Bookmark here

Mox adjusts her feet as we reached the front of my tent. "We're you planning on joining the tournament?"Bookmark here

I shake my head. "I had my fair share of tournaments already. I'm not stepping foot in any other."Bookmark here

"That sounds good. then you wouldn't mind helping me fight a bit, yeah?"Bookmark here

"Hm? I thought the NRF taught you pretty well on close-quarters combat."Bookmark here

Mox made a bit of a face. "Eh, well I can assume we're fighting in the crowd, yeah?"Bookmark here

I nod. I can assume the tournament will have a few eyes on it. Bookmark here

"That's the problem, I'm not a huge fan of crowds and performances. You have. I want to know how did you do that."Bookmark here

I mean, it wasn't terribly late. I can throw her a few pointers before I went to bed. "Sure. Let's go on open land." I finish my drink and walk with her to an open piece of desert. Bookmark here

"Now," I start as I remove my had and sand cape. "I want you to picture something for me. Close your eyes for me." Bookmark here

She does so, shutting her eyes slowly. Bookmark here

"I want you to picture us, in that circle. I'm in front of you, just like now. I looked focused, in the zone. What do you hear right now?"Bookmark here

"Nothing..."Bookmark here

"Wrong. You hear the chanting of the crowd. The men and women surround you. They're drunk, loud. It's been hours. They've been cooking in the hot sun watching fights and bloodshed. They've seen both our rallies and victories. These animals are half and half on who's gonna win. Sure, half cheer and help you on, but the other half boo you, want you dead. They want you on the ground, knocked out. You know what you should do?"Bookmark here

She shakes her head. She looks panicked by her thoughts. Bookmark here

"Ignore it all. Even the positive ones. I want you to think back to this moment. This moment of silence. This moment of loneliness. This technique makes you block out everyone. The only thing you will see is him and yourself. I call this..The age of loneliness. Now open your eyes." Bookmark here

She snaps up, panting a bit. "The age of loneliness?"Bookmark here

"The age of loneliness. It's basically saying it's just you and your opponent. I only hear them before the fight, and during they might as well be dead." Bookmark here

Mox smiles, thinking of the concept. "I like it...I think I can do this." Bookmark here

"The only real way you can get the technique is to try it out on the battlefield."Bookmark here

"Thanks, Dopeman. Now, did you wanna spar?" Bookmark here

I shrug and smile. "Why not, let's get a couple of hits in."Bookmark here

She charges at me instantly. She used her legs almost exclusively. I blocked all I could, even dodging a few. She caught me quick in the jaw after a bit. I turn and sweep the legs, getting on top and doing a few soft hits to the face. We both laugh as I help her up. "Nice kicking, Mox."Bookmark here

We head back to the campsite. "How did you get so good at fighting, Dopeman?"Bookmark here

"I'm not a good fighter. I just learned to fight my way." Bookmark here

"What is your way?"Bookmark here

"Cheating." I joked and laughed. "But that's my last advice. Before you do anything, you make sure to do it your way."Bookmark here

"I'll keep that in mind." She kissed my cheek. "Night, Dopeman."Bookmark here

I wave and head back into the tent to sleep.Bookmark here

The next day Kyle calls out the group. "Listen up. After everything that's happened, I know you folks need a break and relax, so I got a little competition. Combat!" He pulled out leather pads. The soldiers smile and joke. "The prize is a nice bar of cigars. Not just any, pre-war!" The crowd oohs and ahhs. "We need sixteen people. Any takers?"Bookmark here

The spots got filled pretty quickly, with Mox included. I gathered with the people, watching the crowd as we drank booze, getting drunk quickly. I was becoming a stronger drinker. I saw my girl beat all the competition with her mighty legs. She kicked her way to the finals. As I said earlier, I yelled out what I said last night in my state of drunkness. "THE AGE! THE AGE!!"Bookmark here

She closed her eyes and huffed. Once she opened them, she was in the zone. She soon won the tournament, to our pleasure. Bookmark here

Now I need to snag a cigar. Bookmark here


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