365: Spit And Polish

on March 25, 2009 in Book 13

In Which Mackenzie Doesn’t Swallow

The fun began the moment I walked on to the field, borrowed staff in hand. Callahan was watching for me, and she beckoned me over to her with a crooked finger over her clipboard. Her expression was unreadable. I came over and I stood there, not sure what she wanted and not daring to speak. She simply stared at me.

How had I never noticed how tiny she was before? She was always in motion, normally… even when she was standing still, she rocked on her heels and she swung her arms and the muscles of her face moved. All this action enlarged her, somehow, and now that she was perfectly still and so very close, she looked so small and so alien. The tiny differences between her face and that of a human: the slope of her brow, the set and shape of her eyes, the line of her jaw and her cheeks.

Elf. Dwarf. Ogre. Orc.

Four very different races blended together, if Steff was to be believed… and the end result was so close to looking human. Small anomalies aside, she could have passed as one longer and better than I could. She had claimed to be a Khersian… certainly she could walk into a temple, stride right up to the altar and put her hand on it.

Was that fair? Was that right? Sure, I was evil… or I had it inside me… but she was cruel and foul on purpose, even if the stories about her were wildly exaggerated.

But fair or right, it was. What could I do about that?

“I had an interesting visit in my office,” she said finally, without warning. “Tell me that wasn’t your idea, Emo Kid.”

“It wasn’t my idea,” I said. “Seriously.”

She shook her head.

“See, now, I don’t know if you’re saying that because it’s true or because I just told you to,” she said. “Are you really going to obey me now, because a pair of tits with glasses told you to?”

“Um…” I wasn’t sure how best to answer that, since, yes, I was going to obey her, but the reason was a little bit more involved than “because a pair of tits with glasses told me to”

“Open your mouth,” she said. I did, and then obeyed as she said, “Wider… wider… holy Khersis, Emo Kid, don’t unhinge your jaw. Hold it just… like… that.”

She leaned in and spit… right in my mouth.

“Oh, fuck… fucking gross!” I yelled, doubling over and trying to spit out everything that was in my mouth and then some. “What the fuck?”

“Next time I want you to swallow it,” she said.

“You mean you’re going to keep doing that?” I asked.

“At five minute intervals,” Callahan said.

“What the hell does that have to do with me learning to fight?”

“Exactly as much as the sexy fun pretend games you decided to bring into my class do,” Callahan said.

“For the record, that wasn’t sexy or fun!” I said, not fighting the urge to keep wiping around my mouth with the sleeve of my coat.

“It was kind of fun for me,” she said.

“I thought you’d be happy to have me obeying you,” I said.

“I’d be happy to have you listening to me,” she said. “I’d be happy to have you paying attention, to have you trying, to act like this class is something you’re doing, not something that’s being done to you… I want you to listen to me because first of all I know better than you, second of all I could put you in the ground, third of all because I am your instructor, and not at all because a hippy sex spirit told you that you should.”

“Yeah, well, too bad for you I care more about what she says than what you say,” I said.

Callahan gave me a disgusted look.

“No, Emo Kid,” she said. “It isn’t. It’s too bad for you. Open your mouth.”

“It hasn’t been five minutes!”

“I said open your mouth.”

“No,” I said.

“So I guess we’re done with this game?” she asked.

“I guess,” I said. “But what am I supposed to tell Amaranth?”

“Whatever you want to,” Callahan said. “It happens outside my class, so I don’t care… don’t bring it into my class and make me care about it. You won’t like the results.”

I supposed I could think of it in a couple of different ways. Interfering with my classes was solidly in the black.. Amaranth had given this order thinking it would help, but now that I knew it would have the opposite effect I could not keep following it and still be okay. Alternately, I could look at it as me obeying Callahan’s obvious desire to only have me obey her in class-relevant stuff.

Of course, that interpretation required me to keep obeying her, where as the other one would let me throw the whole thing out.

“I’ve already spent way too much time on you, Emo Kid,” she said. “Not more than I’m willing to spend on a single student, but more than I’d like to spend on somebody who doesn’t give me anything back. You’ve shown me tiny little amounts of progress and I’ve had to fight you for them every step of the way, you know that? They aren’t your triumphs. They’re mine. That’s the only thing that keeps me coming back to you… the challenge, and I have to tell you, it’s starting to lose its satisfaction. You brought a staff. Did you even get a book?”

“Yeah, I got a book,” I said, annoyed at the implication that I would have blown this assignment off. I would have, but I hadn’t, so she had no right to imply that. “Mage’s something, warrior’s… something else.”

“I guess we can skip the oral report,” Callahan said. “Fucking Johnson is actually here specifically to waste my time and still manages to get more out of the class than you do. Do you realize that? It used to be no big deal for me to get rid of students who weren’t going to learn anything, but now there are all these rules… show me what you’ve learned.”

I got into the basic stance from the book, my legs spread for stability.

“Okay, no,” she said.

“This is how it was in the book.”

“Don’t stand straight like that. You’re presenting your whole body to me,” she said. “You’re a bigger target. If I had a staff, and you caught it with yours, I could shove you over backwards because there’s no way to brace with your feet like that.”

“It’s how it was in the book!” I said again.

“Maybe if you flattened it to two dimensions,” she said. “Hold up your staff… both hands.”

I did, and she grabbed it with her hands and started pushing, not swiftly and suddenly to bowl me over, but hard and slow. My feet started to slip, and I shifted one of them to steady myself.

“See?” she said. “Your body knows. You moved your foot back and twisted it. Stagger your feet a little… drop one back and turn it sideways. This gives you a better position to strike from, and a better chance to defend. Spread feet gives you a lower center of balance, but it doesn’t do much for leverage or traction.”

“I’m supposed to walk with my foot sideways?” I asked.

“Is it easier to walk with one foot sideways, or both feet in the air?” she asked, and then she shoved me over. “The sad thing is, I could make you obey me even without the tits’ interference, but giving little girls clit boners is creepy and wrong, and I’m in the business of making warriors, not slaves.”

“I don’t want to be a warrior!” I said.

“Then what are you doing here?”

“I’m supposed to be learning how to defend myself,” I said.

“And you think that’s different from being a warrior,” she said. “I’ve watched you since you started off here, dancing with your island girl… you think there’s some way you can learn to get around a fight, to get through it, without fighting… some way, some solution that will work in each case and let you get out without, what, compromising what you see as your integrity?”

“No, not any more,” I said. “I know I need to learn how to fight.”

“Get up off your ass, then,” she said. “Take off that gimpy coat…”

“It’s cold!”

“You’ll warm up if you work hard enough,” she said. “I don’t move the class indoors before the end of Calendula, so get used to it. Chances are good you’ll end up fighting with snow on the ground. Take off that coat and get ready to fight.” She turned and looked around the field. “Johnson!”

“What is it, chief?” Steff said, bouncing up… and not only was her hair and face still all glammed up, she was also still wearing the dress. Oh, shit.

“Oh, what the fuck did I tell you about wearing that faggy shit on my field?” Callahan said. “I was going to have you beat on your little butt slut until she got the point so I didn’t have to, but…”

“Wait, she still doesn’t get it?” Steff asked.

“Don’t fucking interrupt me when I’m violating your civil rights,” Callahan said.

Steff ignored her, though, and just stared at me, and her eyes weren’t just sad… they were crushingly sad, and full of pity. She shook her head.

“Oh… Mack,” she said. “We tried.”

“What do you mean? Are you giving up?” I asked, her disappointment digging into me like stinging thorns.

“Why not?” she asked. “It sure seems like you have.”

I swallowed, put my borrowed staff aside so I could get up, and shrugged my way out of my coat, then picked it up again.

“I got the staff,” I said. “I got the book. I’m here.”

“Dark fucking Herald take me right now, this is the gayest thing I’ve ever seen,” Callahan said, throwing up her hands. “But whatever works… somebody get Johnson a staff!”


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5 Responses to “365: Spit And Polish”

  1. pedestrian says:

    i thought Steff was already packing one, between her legs.

    I have read accounts of several eighteenth century duelists dressing up in those huge dresses with hoopskirts and towering wigs to practice their swordsmanship. I guess it was an imposing handicap for when the shit hits the fan, under every conceivable condition, against every possible opponent they were prepared.

    Current score: 6
  2. MackSffrs says:

    ““Dark fucking Herald take me right now, this is the gayest thing I’ve ever seen,” Callahan said, throwing up her hands. “But whatever works… somebody get Johnson a staff!””
    This is great!

    Current score: 4
    • BlackWizard says:

      Mack may not be able to stand Callahan. Mack CERTAINLY doesn’t understand her or what she is doing FOR Mack. She needs to get off her fucking “I’m better than you because I’m a academic NOT a fighter horse” and get with the program. I’m a nerd (If I wasn’t I wouldn’t be reading this)and even I can see the ‘value’ of learning to fight even though I try to avoid it like the plague! Hell most martial artists (the kung fu kind not the kind of martial fighting mentioned here) TEACH that their art is more for disciple, exercise and expanding the MIND. The actual fighting is ONLY for a last resort, when all other options have failed. I think Mack needs to learn from a fighting monk or this worlds equivalent, but to be honest she’s so overwhelming arrogant and certain of her own rectitude about fighting I’m not sure she would get it even then!

      Current score: 1
  3. Rey d'Tutto says:

    Warrior monk, hmm. Dee fits that description, I’d think.
    I love Callahan. She’s not prejudiced, she hates everyone equally, until they lower her opinion by stupidity.

    Current score: 3
  4. Mike says:

    “Don’t fucking interrupt me when I’m violating your civil rights,” Callahan said.

    Really liking her more and more as I reread this stuff. If only Mackenzie could open her mind a little and see how good a teacher Callahan really is.

    Current score: 3