Chapter 0-6: Wood.
Genre: Romance, Action
May 29th, 2011.
Jefferson Memorial Forest, Fairdale, KY
Lucas parked his white Chevy Cruze on an unmarked gravel parking space beside a bulletin board for the park events. He stepped out of his car and proceeded to open the backseat of the car for a lightly-packed blue backpack and a waist-high wooden walking stick. After checking through his things – an extra jacket, water bottle, a bag lunch and his multi-tool amongst other small gadgets – he stood up, closed the door and turned towards the back of his car. Vermillion was waiting for him in his immediate view, almost his next blink, in a bright white sleeveless compression top and matching track pants.
“Packed light?” Vermillion asked. He stood tall and clutching both straps of his somewhat larger black backpack on his back with a long sword sheath coming out of the back of it. “I hope you don’t think I’m letting you bring that stick. It’ll slow your already sluggish ass down.”
“And the sword helps?” Lucas asked him.
“Yeah. Gotta cut through shit, ya know.” He replied boisterously. “Trees and fuckin’ foliage in the way when we’re running.”
“You’re a mad man, Verm.” Lucas said as he walked towards the entrance to the six-mile trail. He walked with worry without hesitation. “Let’s just get this over with.”
“Hey man, wait up! This is… slightly uncharacteristic of you.” Vermillion commented as he hurried to catch pace with him. “I’m the one supposed to be leading!”
“Lucas is different this weekend.” He said as he looked straight-forward, avoiding eye contact with Vermillion. He was determined to get through their monthly trip to the forest without being too frustrated by Vermillion’s off-comments.
J.M.F. was Lucas and Vermillion’s only training site for trail-running, martial arts and parkour. The trails were long, rarely maintained and absolutely terrible after a citywide sprinkle. The trees were high enough to hide everything top-down but low enough for Vermillion to reach with little effort and Lucas with a bit more than that. As it sat on the outskirts of the city limits, about three miles out from rural areas, cellular reception wasn’t too much of an issue even though it would be hard to attach to a tower; the boys could shut off their radios and be at peace with nature as they saw fit.
They could also get away with yelling at the top of their lungs whenever they broke something.
“Now wait a minute,” said Vermillion as he caught up with Lucas. “Are you still emo about the Klondike situation? That shit’s not gonna change anytime soon.”
“I’m not.” Lucas replied quickly, stopping after a few steps onto the trail. “Now before we get to it, there’s one thing I have to ask you.”
“Less talk and more running, dill weed.” Vermillion responded callously. He wasn’t keen on small talk or having a conversation with Lucas before doing something, especially if he didn’t have the last word. “five-point-nine mile run, no short-cuts, no tree hopping or bouncing, no water breaks. Do whatever necessary to stay on pace while evading anyone else traversing the trails; but it shouldn’t be a problem for how we’re going to our destination point.”
“Right.” Lucas said as he clutched the right strap of his backpack and his stick; and lowered his upper body slightly while bending his right knee slightly. “Starting now,” was the last thing uttered from Lucas before he took off like a track runner. Not even an eye twitch toward Vermillion as he kicked the dirt up.
“You fuck!” Vermillion shouted, “Get the fuck back here! I didn’t even start the clock!” He chased after Lucas as he went through his pack looking for his phone. While his bag was in front of him, he couldn’t move as fast as he wished; his phone wasn’t in the normal place in the front pocket.
When he found his phone, the same iPhone 4S as his counterpart only in white instead of black, he activated the stopwatch application followed by the music app. He turned on “Mombassa” by Hans Zimmer, threw on his ear buds, tossed his backpack on his back, strapped up and began running at full speed. Not even a dead sprint could catch Lucas while he was focused on the run, he moved as fast as the wind itself and flowed like it through the trees.
Vermillion scurried along like a cockroach across a well-lit floor. While not as graceful as Lucas, he made it clear that he was playing catch up, bounding over quick curves and hitting his landings with side-rolls.
Lucas had reached the lake first with Vermillion following close behind him. He huddled over himself, threw down his blue sack and stick, and then coughed violently as if he were choking on his own air. Was he out of breath? He couldn’t have been with how efficiently he moved and how well he was trained for trail-running. He and Vermillion had been running this trail for three years on a monthly basis and granted it was warmer this time of year; but Lucas would never be this wiped out.
Vermillion came behind him and smacked him hard on the back with blunt end of his sword, causing Lucas’s legs to buckle and collapse under him. “Goddammit, son, I’m disappoint.” He shouted as Lucas fell backwards on his butt.
After throwing their things down, the two guys lie face up and looking into the clouds in the bright blue sky. Stretched out as much as they were tired out from running, they began to relax on the dry grass.
“Verm, you are a dick.” Lucas said.
“And?” Vermillion replied.
“Never mind.” Lucas murmured as he flicked a fly off his face. “Why were you taking it easy on me today? You could have blazed past me even with all that crap on.”
“Because everyone needs to win every once in a while.” Vermillion answered him, and then went on boldly, “because every human has a 1% failure rate regardless of perfection. Because the truth is only the truth because facts are 99% probable. Because while I already know that I can more than easily mow right past you at any given point on the trail, I didn’t do it so I could spite you right now by saying ‘I took it easy on you because you’re having a bad time.’ That sound about good for you, needlepoint?”
“I don’t know how I understood any of that,” Lucas said to him, “but I did. I still think you’re a dick. Self-gratification and making yourself feel like a better person by trying to improve my mood isn’t helping.”
“Gee thanks, asshole.” Vermillion retorted. “Look dude, the cops will never find us. Klondike is a bitch; you knew that from the very first time she rode your dick like a rodeo cowgirl reject. One way or another, the universe is gonna allow you to have a win streak without consequence. You’ll see.”
“You really think so?” Said Lucas.
“Nah, I just wanted to give you some fuckin’ hope.” Vermillion replied, smacking Lucas hard on the chest like he was hitting a fly on the wall.
“You’re a dick.” He said as he hopped up to his feet. As he landed, he shifted into a fighting position similar to a boxer’s. Hunched over, he set his eyes on Vermillion’s nose, his right hand readied and clenched for a quick straight on the button.
Vermillion laughed as he looked up at him; he thought his stance was adorable, picturing him with kid gloves on. He rolled backwards onto his knees, stood up straight and squatted as he widened his arms out in a Mantis-like stance.
“Verm, what are you doing?” Lucas said, insulted.
“We’re fighting, aren’t we?” Vermillion commented, doing his best to hold himself still.
“No, this is training too.” Lucas replied, laying it on thick. “So are we going to stand, or fight?”
“Alright… let the second part of the run begin!” Vermillion shouted. “IKU-YO!”
Both jumped at each other and fought until nightfall.