Categories > Original > Fantasy > Monster

Day 0

by Togot 0 reviews

A troubled young man is summoned to another world and struggles to find his place among the aliens as forces conspire to use or destroy him

Category: Fantasy - Rating: R - Genres: Drama,Fantasy - Warnings: [V] - Published: 2019-08-10 - Updated: 2019-08-10 - 5320 words

Day zero

Tyler Jones glared at the four boys sitting across from him. They were each older and larger than he was, but none of them met his gaze. All of them had bloody noses, and one was holding an ice pack to a spilt lip. Tyler looked worse than any of them with a broken nose, split cheek, and an eye that was rapidly swelling up, but the fierce look in his eye left no doubt that he was ready for more.

Mrs. Paxton could see the animosity emanating from the seventeen year old boy as he stared down his attackers. “Tyler, come into my office.” She watched as he stood slowly, deliberately, without breaking his gaze from the other boys until he turned and walked toward the old woman. Mrs. Paxton held the door open for him, and although she kept her manner polite, Tyler knew that deep down he made her nervous.

Tyler could feel her unease as he brushed by her. He could practically smell how tense she was, and if he hadn’t been so angry, he would have smiled. Once through the door, he instantly noticed another teacher standing in the corner of the room. Tyler froze for a moment, fixing the young woman with the same cold stare he gave everyone. It only lasted a moment, but it was long enough to make the woman visibly uncomfortable.

She was thin and wore thin framed glasses. Her blond hair was done into some kind of bun in the back which looked a bit antiquated. She wore a grey suit, all prim and proper. She stood rigid, and held herself like someone with a stick up their ass. Tyler already knew that he wasn’t going to like her.

He lowered himself in the chair across from Mrs. Paxton’s desk and waited patiently for her to close the door and take her own seat. He sat quietly as the old woman gathered her thoughts while she avoided his steady, unpleasant stare. “Tyler, this is the fourth time you’ve been in my office because of fighting other students,” she said. Her voice was formal, as if she were in some kind of board meeting. He saw no reason to respond to her stating something he already knew, so he waited until she continued. “Obviously you don’t care what I say, or we wouldn’t be here yet again, so I brought in some help.” She looked at the other woman to her left.

Tyler looked at her without returning the compulsory smile that she flashed. “This is Mrs. Harris,” Paxton said. “She specializes in helping students to discontinue socially unacceptable behavior.”

“Socially unacceptable?” Tyler said while he chuckled to himself under his breath and shook his head. “So you’re saying this was my fault.” He made it an accusation more than a question.

“Four boys just decided they wanted to pick a fight with you?” Mrs. Harris asked. Her tone was condescending, almost mocking.

“Five,” Tyler said, glaring at her.

“I beg your pardon?”

“There were five of them.”

Mrs. Harris shot a questioning look to Mrs. Paxton. “Keith Ballard had to be taken to the hospital,” she explained. Mrs. Harris looked back at Tyler as if seeing him for the first time, and again Tyler wanted to smile.

“Do you know why you’re not in handcuffs right now?” Mrs. Harris asked. Her voice was becoming increasingly upset.

“Because I was the victim of an unprovoked attack,” Tyler answered. “Because I was out numbered five to one. Because one of the boys pulled a knife on me in front of a whole cafeteria full of witnesses, which put me well within my right to defend myself, and because if you so much as give me detention for this, my mother will sue this shit hole until every classroom has a share a single textbook.”

His voice rose with each word until he was practically shouting, but he never lost control. Mrs. Harris opened her mouth to speak but closed it again. Tyler’s verbal onslaught had shaken her confidence. She looked to Mrs. Paxton for support, and the older woman took over.

“Tyler, look,” she said trying to placate him, trying to defuse the tension. “You’re a bright student; your teachers have nothing but praise for your grades and high test scores, but your antisocial attitude is causing problems.”

“God you really are clueless, aren’t you?” Tyler said shaking his head in exasperation. “Being a bright student is what’s causing my problems!” He shouted. “Those assholes out there, they jumped me because I aced the marine biology test and screwed up the grading curve for everyone else in the class, so they all failed , and the two guys last month picked a fight with me because I wouldn’t give them answers for the extra credit assignments which I didn’t need to fucking do because I already have an A in the class!”

Mrs. Paxton shrank in her chair as Tyler shouted at her. It was clear that she had nothing more to add to the conversation, but Mrs. Harries chimed in in true tag-team fashion.

“Have you ever considered helping your fellow students with their work,” she asked, sounding self-satisfied as ever. “Perhaps if you shared your gift instead of horded it, people wouldn’t resent you.”

Tyler laughed scornfully. “Yeah,” he said. “Cause that’s a great thing to base a friendship on. Are you actually suggesting that I give in to bullies and do their homework for them? You people are so full of shit it makes me sick. You preach and preach about how being smart and working hard is a good thing, but you want to know what being smart really gets you?”

Tyler leaned forward and spat out a blood loogie on Mrs. Harris’ desk. Both of the women stared at him in shock.

“That’s what it gets you.” Tyler sat back in the chair and took a breath. “But you know what? You win,” he said in a much calmer voice. “If being smart is what’s causing my problems, then I’ll stop being smart. I’ll stop doing homework, I’ll bomb on my tests, and I’ll pretend to be a little idiot just like everyone else.”

“You can’t just throw away your education,” said Mrs. Harris.
“Why not?” he asked, scoffing. “Fat load of good it’s done me.”

“Because you need to think about your future.”

Mrs. Paxton closed her eyes, no doubt wincing at her associate’s mistake. Tyler stood from his chair so quickly it startled both of the women, and glared at Mrs. Harris. The look in his eyes was enough to silence whatever else she was going to say. Tyler’s voice was thick with rage as he said, “Bitch, I don’t have a future.” He shot an angry glance to Mrs. Paxton before storming out of the room without being excused.

“Where are you going?” The younger woman asked. Tyler stopped just outside the doorway to look back at her.

“To the nurse’s office. My mother’s on her way here. Do you want my face more swollen or less before she arrives?” He left without waiting for an answer, leaving a very confused looking Mrs. Harris.

He didn’t bother looking at the boys sitting in the office as he walked out. They meant nothing to him. He walked out of the office and down the hall a few doors to where the nurse’s office was. His head was killing him, and the lecture he would get on the way home wasn’t going to help any. The nurse didn’t say a word. She only gave him a grim smile in greeting when he nodded at her. He didn’t glare with the same contempt that the councilors warranted. She had patched him up a few times in the past, but his expression was still far from happy.

She gave him a cold pack. “Two more, please,” Tyler asked. The young woman gave him a questioning look, but he showed her his hands, and she understood. Tyler’s knuckles were swelling up badly, especially his right. It was already getting hard to move some of his fingers.

He sat down on one of the low to the ground cots and gave each cold pack a good smack to release the chemicals inside. He laid down his head and placed one pack over his swollen left eye. He rested both his hands, palm down with the other two packs on top of them. He took a slow, deep breath, closed his good eye and tried to relax until his mother arrived.

Tyler felt his adrenaline and anger drain away, replaced instead by the pain that he had been ignoring up until now. His hands and face throbbed in synch with his heartbeat. He’d also taken a bad shot to his ribs which now pained him with every breath, but it was all familiar to him. He knew that fidgeting would only make it worse, so he just had to grit his teeth and bare it.

After fifteen minutes or so, Tyler heard his mother’s familiar voice echoing down the school halls. He couldn’t quite make out what she was saying, but he knew she was angry. He couldn’t help but smile at the thought of her verbally crushing Mrs. Paxton and Mrs. Harris. The older counselor had learned to fear Mrs. Jones, but Tyler held out hope that Mrs. Harris would say something stupid to really set his mother off.

“No, I will not lower my voice,” his mother said. She was now close enough for him to hear at least her side of the conversation. “This is the fourth time my son’s been attacked while attending this school. What are these rent-a-cops good for if they can’t even stop other boys from assaulting my son?” Tyler could hear someone else’s voice, though he couldn’t tell who or what they were saying. “Oh don’t even try to blame this on him!” his mother replied. “No judge or jury in the world would believe he picked a fight with five older boys. The last time you tried to say he was at fault, it was when another boy hit him in the back of the head with a text book from behind!”

Tyler realized that they must not have mentioned the knife to her, and he decided to do the same. As much fun as it would have been to give her more ammo, he knew that it would only make her worry about him more in the long run, and spitting in the faculty’s face wasn’t worth that.

He opened his eye and looked to the door just as his mother walked in. She froze when she saw him. He could see her face twitching as she fought to keep from crying. He realized he must have looked even worse than he felt. He smiled at her, trying to reassure her that he was ok as she walked over to him. The vice principal standing behind her was forgotten.

“Hey mom,” Tyler said cheerfully. “You got here fast.”

She stroked her fingers through his messy brown hair. “You ok?” she asked softly.

“They were a bunch of pansies.” Tyler tried to sensor himself around his mother. Not because she got upset when he swore, but because he just didn’t want to seem disrespectful to her. “I’m fine.”

“Come on then,” said his mother. “Let’s get you home.”

Tyler sat up and nearly blacked out from the pain in his head. He groaned and covered his face with a hand as he fought of the wave of nausea. “Bad idea,” he said breathlessly to himself.

“Are you ok?” his mother asked, sounding overly concerned.

“Yeah, just sat up too fast. C’mon, let’s get out of here.” Tyler got to his feet with a bit more care. There was a slight dizziness, but he managed. His mother shot the vice principal a furious glare as she walked by that made the fat little man shrink away. Tyler didn’t even bother to look at him as he left. He’d dealt with enough of the school staff for one day.

Thankfully, classes were still in session as they walked down the halls. Tyler didn’t want to deal with all the students gawking at him. They left the building and were greeted by the bright June sun. It was a warm day, a little too warm in fact. His mother walked briskly to the car with Tyler trying to keep pace behind her. It was obvious she was still furious.

They drove in silence for several minutes, his mother fuming, and Tyler none too eager to start a conversation. They sat in uncomfortable silence until whatever his mother had been pondering simply couldn’t be contained inside anymore. “Maybe I should try to get you in a different school,” she said. She didn’t sound very hopeful, and Tyler agreed.

“If you can find one without jerks and idiots, let me know,” he said quietly. Tyler had been to five schools during his life, and he’d had the same problems at each and every one since his first day of kindergarten. The school wasn’t the problem, the people were. “Look, the only other option would be home schooling which isn’t viable because you need to work during the day. I’ve only got one more year of this and then I’m done. I can deal with it, so don’t worry, ok?”

“Viable?” His mother said with an amused smile. “No wonder you have trouble making friends.” They shared a laugh which helped diffuse the tension and made the rest of the drive far more pleasant. They arrived home and Tyler decided to take the garbage cans out to the street now while he was outside. He’d kept the ice packs on his hands during the drive, so his fingers were working a little better now. His mother went inside, and he checked the mail before doing the same.

He set the few bills they’d gotten on the kitchen table in front of his mother. “Anything you need me to do?” He asked as was his daily custom. He knew that being a single mother was hard, so he tried to make it easier on her by doing whatever chores needed doing.

“No,” She said as she poured a can of Pepsi into a glass with ice cubes. “Go relax a bit. You’ve been through enough for today.”

“Actually I was hoping to go to Master Kim’s.”

“What?” His mother asked, sounding surprised. “In your condition? Honey, you‘re already beat up enough.”

“Hey, you told me to relax, and that’s how I relax,” Tyler said with a laugh. “Besides, if I don’t give my fingers some exercise, this swelling will stiffen my joints.”

His mother sighed and waved her hand in defeat. “Thanks, mom,” said Tyler, and he went downstairs to his room where he grabbed up a duffle bag and a long sack sitting next to his door. Before he left, he looked in a mirror. He could open his eye now, a little, but it was starting to turn red, and it wanted to stay closed, so he let it. Within a day or two he was going to have a real shiner.

Tyler wetted down his dark brown hair a bit, as much to tame it as to have cool water on his face soothing his aches. It would also help with the hot sun outside. He waved to his mother and left the house. Master Kim’s dojo wasn’t too far away, so Tyler always walked. One less burden on his mother, and besides, it gave his legs a bit of a warm up.

Masker Kim’s dojo was a humble one. There were only about twenty students in the tai kwon do class, but Tyler was the only student who practiced kumdo. The dojo had an all-day open door policy. Actual classes were from four to eight, but any student could come in whenever they wanted to practice and spar with each other. Master Kim and his wife lived in the dojo, so it was never left unattended.

Tyler wasn’t surprised to find that he was the only student there. Most of the younger ones were still in school, and the older ones were probably at work. The bell chimed as he pushed open the door. Master

Master Kim’s wife was at the front desk reading a magazine. She was a young, pretty Caucasian woman with long sandy hair. She looked up at him, surprised to have a visitor this time of the day.
“Oh, hi Tyler,” she said with a friendly smile. “Shouldn’t you be at school?”

Tyler flashed a mischievous grin. “Out on bad behavior.”

She gave him a stern look and said, “You know we get in trouble for supporting truancy.”

Tyler put his hands up in surrender. “I’m not, I promise. Had some trouble and got sent home early.”

She didn’t smile, but she seemed to accept the answer. Tyler took off his shoes and socks before walking on the mat and crossing the main room to the changing area. Tyler put on his black gi from the duffle bag. The uniforms for kumdo looked more like kimonos than the regular blue fighting gi. The wide legs helped hide his feet to make it harder to see when he was going to move. He took out a long wooden sword from the sack called a mukdo. He heard a nearby door open and close before he stepped out onto the mat, and sure enough Master Kim was standing there waiting for him.

Master Kim was a thirty year old Korean who seemed to have been born with a frown carved onto his face. He cupped Tyler’s chin and turned his head while inspecting his face. “We need to work on your blocking it seems,” he said. His voice was deep and harsh. Tyler could never figure out how he managed to sound angry and calm at the same time.

“In my defense, there were five of them,” Tyler said, though he made it a point not to sound like a smart ass.

“If you had a good defense, you would still have depth perception,” Master Kim shot back. Tyler had to fight hard not to smile. Master Kim and his mother were the only two people who could verbally bitch slap him like this while not sounding like assholes. It was a big part of the reason he respected them as much as he did.

“Do some katas,” Master Kim said as he walked into the back room.

Tyler suspected that his sensei had something in mind, so he did as he was told. It was what he had been planning to do anyway, after all. He flexed his fingers a few time. They were already feeling stiff, but he could manage. He went through the forms, varying his speed and pace each time. The idea was to make it look as graceful and fluid as possible rather than being fast. Doing them helped him clear his mind.

Master Kim came back out with supplies which he began to setup without a word. Tyler decided to continue what he was doing until he was told otherwise, though his curiosity was now nagging at him. He stole glances here and there. Master Kim was setting up several of the punching bag stands at varying heights and placing bean bags on top of them. There were also a number of candles on the floor, and Tyler started to get an idea what was going on.

“Tyler,” Master Kim said in a barking command. Tyler stopped what he was doing and came over to him quickly. “Let us see how well you adapt to only having one eye.” He nodded to the circle of targets. “Strike the bags on top without hitting the bunching bags.”

Tyler nodded and stepped into the middle of the ring. He looked at each target, picturing his strikes in his head. He could have forced his swollen eye open, but that would have defeated the purpose of the exercise. Tyler took a breath and steadied his mind before making the first horizontal swing.

He struck at the easiest target to his left first. It was just slightly lower than shoulder height, so it required the least adjustment. The bean bag was knocked solidly off without even shaking the punching bag. Next, Tyler twisted his wrists, turning the edge of the wooden blade to face the opposite direction as he swung to the right at another target, slightly lower than the first. He managed to knock it off without incident as he did the first.

The third target was much lower. Rather than align the sword parallel to it, he had to angle it down so that the tip would hit the target, but not the punching bag it was resting on. That was tricky even with both eyes open. He managed to knock the bean bag off, but it wasn’t nearly as solid a hit as the first two. Two more strikes and two more passable successes, but the last target was above his shoulder height. Tyler bent his knees and made a swift hop to get above the target and swung as he did so, and the punching bag fell over.

“Crap,” Tyler said as he looked down at it. He had been doing so well.

“Do not get discouraged,” said Master Kim as he walked over and picked it up. “You did very well for only having one eye. Now let’s try some other exercises.”

Next, Tyler blew out candles which weren’t hard once you knew the trick to it. A quick flick of the wrist right at the end of the strike created a small gust of wind that extinguished the flames. Normally Tyler could do it all day, but with one eye, he had a harder time judging when to stop the swing. It took several tries just to put out one, and he knocked over the second one, causing Master Kim the step forward quickly and stomp on the flame before it spread to the mat.

After that, Master Kim tossed the bean bags at Tyler while he deflected them with the sword. The idea was to wait until the last possible moment before delivering a quick decisive strike. Swing too soon and your opponent can react, swing too late and you get hit.

Like the candles, Tyler had a hard time judging how close the targets were, so he kept swinging too soon or too late, but his aim was dead on. Tyler dropped his sword twice due to problems with his swollen knuckles, but he didn’t let it bother him. The truth was that this practice had cleared his head of his worries. Both times when Tyler dropped his sword, Master Kim simply waited patiently for him to recover without saying a word.

“Are you up for a sparring match?” Master Kim asked as he put the bean bags and candles into a box. It was rare that he asked what a student wanted to do, but Tyler understood why. He knew it probably wasn’t a good idea, but his pride wouldn’t let him turn down a challenge.

He went back to the changing room and removed a long bamboo sword from the same sack he took his mukdo from. This one was called a chukdo. It was made of four long shards of bamboo held together by leather bands. Despite its flimsy appearance, Tyler had broken two wooden targets with the thing in the past. The trick was to pull back just as you hit to give it a good snap.

Master Kim and he helped each other put on their armor. The chest pieces needed to be tied securely from behind as well as the helmets. The thick gloves were easy enough to take on and off by one’s self. Although the armor was made to protect the target areas, Tyler found it most restrictive. The helmet had large shoulder flaps on the sides of the neck that made it hard to raise his arms, and the helmet’s face was covered with metal bars, one down the middle and then several going across. It protected his face but made it rather hard to see, especially with only one eye. It also ruined his peripheral vision, though he didn’t really need much of that when fighting one opponent.

They faced each other, swords crossed. Master Kim tapped Tyler’s chukdo with his own, and they both took a step away from each other. Master Kim usually let his students make the first move in duels. It forced them to get over their timid-ness, not that Tyler had much of that to begin with. He struck at his master’s head, just to show he wasn’t intimidated. Master Kim blocked it easily and countered with a strike of his own. Tyler raised his sword, but the armor made it hard to get the angle right, so he ended up with his right hand in front of his face instead of off to the side, resulting in a painful crack to his knuckles. Even with the thick gloves, Tyler felt the impact.

The two exchanged several blows, but every time Master Kim aimed for Tyler’s head, Tyler blocked straight up, taking the hit on his hand. Tyler knew that his sensei was taking it easy on him. Defeating him quickly wouldn’t improve Tyler’s skills any, but when Tyler was clearly starting to tire, Master Kim delivered a fast blow to Tyler’s side, ending the match.

The two of them took their original positions and bowed to each other. Tyler took his glove off and looked at his hand. There was blood, but no cuts. Somehow he’d actually been hit enough for his blood to seep through his skin. That was a new one.

“You are still blocking incorrectly,” said Master Kim as he removed his helmet. Despite Tyler being exhausted, Master Kim hadn’t even broken a sweat.

“The armor makes it hard to move,” Tyler said, as he pulled the knot free on the back of his helmet with the left hand and took it off.

“Make excuses if you like, but it won’t stop your hand from bleeding.”

Tyler smiled and bowed his head, conceding the point. Another verbal bitch slap. Master Kim didn’t scold or preach, he just stated the facts, and Tyler appreciated that. They removed their armor and Tyler started doing badamadis, which were kind of like jumping jacks with a sword. He did a hundred of them at the end of every practice. He was up to seventy when he cried out in pain. Tyler clutched at his chest and dropped to his knees. It felt like he was being stabbed in the heart with an ice pick. Master Kim stood stoically were he’d been counting off Tyler’s strikes. He neither rushed to Tyler’s aid nor asked him if he was alright. He simply waited patiently until the spasm passed, which it did after several seconds.

Tyler took a few deep breaths before retrieving his sword and finishing his exercise. He bowed to Master Kim and thanked him for his time before going into the changing room. He wiped himself off with one of the towels in the back to remove the sweat before changing back into his street clothes. By the time he left, the regular students were coming in. He shared greetings with a few of them, but he wasn’t really friends with anyone.

He walked home feeling a bit better, though he hadn’t done his right hand any favors. Good thing he had more ice packs at the house.

Tyler got home without incident. He found a letter on the fridge from his mother. Seemed she had gone out to visit with his aunt and that his dinner was in the microwave. He found two grilled ham and cheese sandwiches. He took them and a glass of milk, down into his room after tossing his kumdo gi in the laundry room. His room was basically the entire basement. He had a computer set up on a desk in a corner near his bed, a dresser with a sword stand on it where he placed his wooden mukdo. His bamboo chukdo he left in its bag which he placed in a nearby corner. Two bookshelves stood side by side, one with books and one with DVDs. A 26 inch flat screen TV hooked up to a VCR sat on a small table across from his bed.

Tyler sat at his computer and clicked on his heavy metal songs to play before taking his sword off of the wall. It was a katana, long and thinner than normal. Its handle was a leaping wolf, and the guard had the pattern of several wolves running in a circle, eternally chasing each other, all dark metal. The scabbard was wood with a black finish. The scabbard’s mouth had a Japanese demon and a wolf back to back, both seaming to howl at the sky. The scabbard’s cap had the kanji symbol for wolf etched on the end of it.

The sword had been a gift from his uncle after Tyler had won his first kendo tournament. His uncle said that it wasn’t just some cheap bit of metal, but rather an authentic sword made by an actual artisan. Tyler knew that that meant the metal would have been folded and over and over again to make it stronger. He also knew that it must have been very expensive.

Tyler was very fond of the gift, and had made a wooden plaque to hang it from. He sat in his chair in front of the computer with the blade in his lap. He opened the desk drawer and took out some oil and an old rag. Tyler dabbed the rag with the oil and slid it down the length of the blade. The steel shone brilliantly, reflecting what little light there was in the room like a mirror.

The blade was razor sharp, and Tyler would never use such a gift for fooling around, so there was never a need to sharpen it. His little cleaning ritual was his way of relaxing, as well as keeping the weapon in top shape, though he thought of it more as an art piece than an actual weapon. Once he was satisfied that it was clean, he sheathed the sword, but kept it in his lap as he placed a cold, damp rag over his right hand and picked up one of the sandwiches with the other.

He took a breath and tried to relax as he listened to his music alone in his basement. It was nice and cool, and the throbbing in his hand soon stopped. The hot grilled ham and cheese tasted great. The oils from the meat kept the cheese nice and gooey, but the bread was still crunchy, just the way he liked it. He finished his dinner and downed it with the last gulp of milk. Sitting back in his chair, he felt pretty good. He closed his eyes, and drifted off to sleep.
Sign up to rate and review this story