Monday, March 19, 2012

Chapter 33: Session one

Chapter 33: Session one (Wattpad)

It turns out that Sky had a new car - Mercedes Guardian. Couldn’t he have stolen a more conspicuous vehicle? I turned to him as the four of us made our way to it – four, including Dash – opening my mouth to voice up my opinion but he somehow knew what I was thinking. 

“I didn’t steal it. It was a backup.” 

“Exactly how many cars do you have?” 

He grinned slyly. “A fair few.” Imah then joined our conversation as we went into the interior of the car. “We have seven! There’s the old Ferrari, this one, a Porsche, and then there’s my favourite – ”

“We only use them for special cases.” Xavia said. “The Ferrari was my favourite. But apparently, it has been abandoned by someone – ”

“I didn’t abandon it. Why are you all hounding on my back?” Only Imah responded brightly, “I wasn’t!”

“Do you want a round of applause, Imah?” Xavia started. “No, it’s okay. I’m covered.” She grinned in return. I was going to seat beside the two of them – Xavia and Imah – when Imah suddenly piped up, saying, “Oh! No more space left, Ryne!” They are so toast. She continued. “I’m sorry.” but she didn’t look sorry at all. I blast out,

“What are you talking about? There’s – ”

Xavia whistled and Dash bounded in the backseat between them. Leaving no space for me.
How wonderful.

I huffed then said, “Fine.” I turned to Sky, who was supressing a smile, pursing his lips as he climbed in to the driver’s seat. I went into the other side, the shotgun seat. He said as he started the engine, “Now let’s just hope that nothing goes wrong.”

             30 minutes later

“The Pheonix firing range?”

Sky smiled at me. “Awesome name, right?”

Xavia spoke, “It’s not that grand, but with you two around, we’ll have to need anything but grand.” 

“What the hell do this people want from me?”

Sky pursed his lips as he parked the car discreetly on the quiet street. “A good lot of things. Starting with you dead.” Oh. Okay, that was refreshing. So crazy people who wants me dead and a Mr. Mafia waiting for me… somewhere. Imah sensed my discomfort and said, “They won’t touch you Ryne. With Sky and Xav around – ”

“What about you?”

She grimaced. “I’m not a fan of guns and I’m certainly not a fighter like Xav – ”

“Yes.” Sky joined in. “I wonder why she’s here.” Her lips puckered at that and she scowled. “I know to handle those things. I just don’t want to actually do it.” Sky shrugged. “Same thing.” 

“No, it’s – ”

“Shut up, you two.” Xavia said. “You’re so childish.” Imah rolled her eyes as she opened the door on her side. “He did it first.” Then we all followed her, started to move out with Dash in tow. I had to admit, hearing their banters felt nice. It’s normal and it sounds like we’re just a group of friends. Going out. To shoot guns. I felt uncomfortable.; I never do this sort of thing in my life and never have I thought that I would need to. Sky was in front of me, leading the way, Imah by my side holding Dash and Xavia at the back. 

Great, Ryne. You can’t run. 

Sky pushed the glass doors open and entered the front room. It looks ordinary and unremarkable. Nothing special. But I know there would be people shooting at targets later. How encouraging. The guy at the desk looked up and raised an eyebrow. Just raised an eyebrow. People here are so tough and mysterious, ugh. Sky said,

“La Brea reserved three spaces here an hour ago.”

“Are you La Brea?”

He just nodded his head. When the guy turned around to get a signing form though, I heard him mutter, “Obviously.” I giggled. Sky grinned at my direction. “Sometimes rudeness is a virtue.” I laughed aloud, then the guy turned to us again, a slight frown on his face. I pursed my lips to keep from smiling as he said,

“Everyone just signs here.” he said as he passed us a form on a clipboard. As I stepped forward to sign, I felt Sky’s hand on my waist. Not really touching, more like hovering.
I pretended not to notice.

Once we all signed, we went to the direction of the only other door inside the room but then the mysterious dude halted us.

“Dogs aren’t allowed, ma’am.”

I licked my lips, whistling to Dash. “C’mon, boy.” My three companions waited for me as I tied Dash’s leash to the metal bar in front of the desk. Such friends.

Then we went inside through the door. We found ourselves inside a kind of compartment. A glass compartment. There were several white cabinets stacked up high to the right of the door where we came through and on the other wall were grey cabinets of similar size and stacked the same as well. But the attention was on the space visible beyond the glass, where dozens of people are wearing protective gears – goggles and earmuffs. Others were using earplugs which are more difficult to spot. And they’re shooting as if they’re just chilling out on a Monday.

I turned to my colleagues – I don’t know what to call them, okay? – and I saw that they were already opening the drawers.

“Are – are we going to – ”

“Relax, Ryne.” they all said in unison.

“I’m not panicking – ”

Imah laughed. “Yes, you are.”

“That’s why I’m bringing this.” Sky said, waving a first-aid kit. Of course. Xavia stepped forward then, hands filled with a safety goggle and a pair of earmuffs. And a handgun. “You’re going to defend yourself sometime, Ryne. Better start now, what do you think?”

“Yeah, you’re right.” I said meekly as I got the items from her. “As long as I don’t end up like the guy outside.” They all chuckled. Imah smiled widely and said, “His name is PJ Hastings. He and his sister owns the place.” I looked at her, brow creased. She’s such a computer. “How do you know that?”

“I checked it! I told you my job was to keep you safe, didn’t I? The sister’s name is – ”

“Phia Villamore?” Xavia asked.

Sky raised an eyebrow, closing the drawer of one of the many grey cabinets. Xavia just shrugged. “They’re both here.” she pointed to a framed certificate on the wall. Shooting fest award for just a few years back.

I feel absolutely out of place.

I finally gave up my façade and faced them with a defeated look on my face. “Look, do you really expect me to just – ” Xavia patted my shoulder. “Really, Ryne. It’s fine. Now, here’s your number.” She gave me a laminated number 17. Sky faced us.

“Let’s go.”

I sighed and put on my earmuffs and transferred the goggles and handgun to one hand. No one ever listens to me. We passed through another door.

This is insanity.

I never ever thought handling a gun would be a major necessity later in life. Never. We moved on to find our space number. People weren’t paying attention to us, much to my comfort. When we reached the 13th, Imah grabbed Sky’s arm and showed her identically laminated card. Turns out that we’re in a row. Imah, Xavia, Sky and then there’s me.

How the hell are they supposed to teach me? 

I faced Sky, a skeptical look on my face. He winked at me reassuringly and turned to his target. There were glasses – like, extremely thick ones in front of us and only a square hole to put the bullet through. Beyond the glass was a circular target, not unlike what is used for darts. I hesitantly took off my glasses and put on my goggles then looked at the gun at my hand unsurely.

Why the hell am I here again?

Sky turned to me, biting his lip and finally putting his own gun down. Xavia was already starting, shooting several bullets perfectly through the square hole and into the target. Imah was having a little trouble, as predicted. As she pulled the trigger, she’ll jump a little from the movement.

Sky moved towards me, sanding a little behind my back. He slowly removed one earmuff from my ear and I heard the continuous gunshots, but he spoke in my ear, instructing me.

“Stand in proper firing stance.” then he nudged my foot. “Your feet should be shoulder-width apart.” I followed what he said then he continued. “Stand with a slight lean forward. That’s right.” This feels really different. But this is necessary, I reminded myself. Sky placed his chin on my shoulder, still speaking in my ear, “Make sure you’re firmly balanced.”

“I think I am.”

He gripped my right shoulder. “Make sure that you are – ”

“Okay, okay. I am.”

He grinned. “Good. Now point your gun.” Now, this part. I sighed a little and raised the handgun on chest level. Sky approved, saying, “Yes, that’s what you do when you’re facing your enemy point blank. But if you don’t know where they are yet, your right arm should be really straight,” he bent my arm to make it straighter than it already was. Then I said, “What now?” he bent my other arm in, making it look like a letter V. “You keep that stance, okay? And when you’re not about to fire yet, make sure that your fingers are outside the trigger guard. Outside, okay?”


“And also, the barrel should be pointed downrange. Just like that.”

“So, err, do I shoot now?”

“Your position is wrong. You do the one when the target is point blank.” I fixed my position, returning to the first one. He lifted his chin from my shoulder and held it instead with his hand. “Yes. Now – ”

“I shoot?” I said, turning to him. I’d like to admit, learning this is so fun. I mean, this stuff isn’t on the school curriculum! He still put his mouth near my exposed ear to better make me hear him as he said, “Aim good, okay?”

“Err, what happens if I don’t?”

He chuckled. “Just squeeze the trigger, Ryne.” he paused and then said, “I’m going to place your earmuff now, the sound is kind of, uhmm, annoying.” then he did as he said and I found myself facing the target through the thick sheet of glass. I bit my lip and then squeezed the damned trigger fast.

Too fast.

I felt the gun jerk back from the force and the bullet hit the glass. I heard it ricochette off. I jumped violently, forgetting everything Sky said earlier. Now I know how Imah feels.

I instantly turned to Sky, who was already taking a step towards me, a guilty look on his face. He took off one earmuff like he did earlier and spoke to my ear. “I sort of forgot to tell you that – ”

“Sort of?” I glared at him.

“I’m sorry! See, you have to squeeze it slowly. When you jerk the trigger, it will throw off your aim and – ”

“You tell me this now? Oh, that’s really – ”

“I said sorry already! You know, we should just get going.” I faced the target for the second time, already in position. Sky put his arms around mine, holding the handgun as well. He was behind me, his front torso touching my back and even his forefinger was hovering over mine. He said to my ear, “You aim for the centre mass.” he guided my shaking hands with his warm ones and said, “Stop shaking.” then he chuckled, “Now, just let me control it first and you can do it on your own later. You do this slowly…” he slowly squeezed the trigger like he said and boom.

Bull’s eye.

I looked at the hole in the target where the bullet zoomed through a second ago, my lips pursed. Sky withdrew his arms and stood to the side. I gritted my teeth and steadied my feet. I’m awesome. I can do this. 

I squeezed the trigger slowly and boom. I brought down my safety goggles, looking at what I did. I passed through the hole and hit – well, not the target – but at least I got in the target board. I turned to Sky, eyebrows raised.

He gave me the thumbs-up and a dazzling smile then gestured me to continue. He picked his own gun and started firing at his own target. Glasses in his pocket, safety gears on. I put on my goggles again and faced the dart-like thing, a smile on my face. I started shooting, only one at a time, not getting ahead of myself. My results were sometimes good, at times incredibly lousy, but I’m actually getting the hang of it. I reloaded my gun for the third time as I had learned from the D.I.Y. when I put down my earmuffs and I heard someone say on my opposite side, 

“You’re a fast learner.” I turned to the person, and my first impression was black. The guy was in and all-black attire but he honestly looked good on it. His hair and eye colour were also black and he has spiky hair. The contrast with his skin colour made his aura comfortable. I smiled shyly and said, “Thank you”

You’re not the one who hasn’t communicated with selected people for seven freaking days, okay?” He smiled in return and offered his hand. 

“I’m Chris.”

I smiled genuinely this time and shook his hand. “My name’s…Ryne.” 

“You say that as if you’re not sure.” he chuckled. Damn you, Ryne. You couldn’t be more obvious. I just chuckled along with him. “I’m awkward when I first meet people. It’s completely…normal.” He started responding to what I said when I noticed Sky moving out of the awesome vision I had. I turned to him and saw that his face was scowling as he looked at me, then at Chris. Then he looked away, returning to his shooting. I stared at him. That was – 

“Is that your boyfriend?”

I distinctly heard Chris ask the question and I turned to him immediately. 

“Ye – no. No.”

He chuckled again. “Okay, Ryne. So, what do you say to a game?”

“Game?” I repeated nervously. Friendly strangers are okay, but I’m a newbie! He smiled, assuring. “I’m new at this, too. Just the first one to get a bull’s eye. So you up to it?”

I chuckled. “Why not?”

           “It’s been fifteen goddamned minutes.”

My new friend laughed. “Last round. Then we can give up.” I stretched my arms as the both of us got ready again. I fired a shot. Fail. Another one – not bad. Then I got serious. Hands down, Sky and Xavia were the best shooters I’ve ever seen – not that I know many – but I’ll try my best. I positioned my feet and arms.

You aim for the centre mass.

The voice in my head sounded like Sky and I took aim confidently. I fired.

Bull’s eye.

I took off my gear and faced Chris, a huge grin plastered on my face. “I did it!” He looked at me, then at my target board. “I knew I shouldn’t have boosted your ego.” I laughed. I feel so accomplished. At least I know I have something. “So,” I said. “Do you get to be my slave or something?”

He smiled. “How about I get your number?” The next thing I heard was the bullet from Sky’s gun ricochette off the glass and him swearing. He clicked his gun violently and resumed his shooting, as if the target board had done him a personal wrong. Chris turned to me again,
“You sure he’s not your boyfriend?”

I shot him a withered look. “I would know f he is, or if he isn’t okay?” Someone tapped my shoulder then. I turned around and saw Imah and Xavia. “Time to go.” Imah said, sounding relieved. “Sky’s becoming a bit of a loose cannon.” she added in a hushed tone. I nodded and turned back to Chris. “It was nice meeting you.”

He grinned. “Same to you. Hope we meet again.” We won’t. Imah lead the way out his time and she almost jogged back to the glass room, seeming eager to get away. We laid down our protective gears and I noticed as we made our way to the front room that Xavia kept on glancing at Sky, who was at the back of the group. I licked my lips and matched up my steps with Imah’s as we were greeted by the different air on the front room.

The mysterious dude was reading the newspaper and just lifted his eyes for three seconds, looking at us. He put four small checks in his clipboard and then went back to his paper. I untied Dash as he barked at us in recognition and as a group, we came back to the car. Imah started,

“Well, that was good. Ryne, you learned quickly! That was really good – it’s like your natural flair. I don’t – ”

“You’re exaggerating.” I interrupted as I grimaced. “I’m not!” she argued and Xavia shot her a warning look as they both got into the backseat with Dash. That was odd. But aargh. My shoulders and arms are sore and I need relaxation. I climbed into the shotgun seat. As Sky quietly started the engine, Xavia said, “We can’t stay there for far too long though. I’ll find another place for you to practice, maybe tomorrow.”

Imah responded. “Can it wait for the next day? I’m all sore and I’m sure Ryne is, too – ”

“Are you, Ryne?” Xavia asked.

“A little bit, yes.” I didn’t mention the word a lot.

She just nodded. “That happens. Let’s just see tomorrow.” She glanced at the back of Sky’s head but reverted her gaze. I chewed my lip as I watched Sky sideways by my eyes. He wasn’t scowling anymore, but there was still a stubborn crease between his brows. I slowly turned to the people on my back, and shot them a look that plainly said, What the fuck is going on? Help me.

Imah looks about to burst from…something and Xavia was pursing her lips to keep from laughing; it was getting uncontrollable that she had to bury herself to Dash’s fur. They’re so helpful.

Imah’s eyes suddenly widened and she then sat up straighter. “We still have to drop by Mark and Colleen’s by the way.” I scrutinized her. “We? And who are these Mark and Colleen people?”

  Xavia seemed to be tickled pink by the news but she made an effort to answer my queries. “Mark and Colleen are cousins and you should, err… it’s best if you don’t know much about them.” she added hastily. My eyebrows drew together. “But aren’t we meeting them?” And I had a sneaking suspicion that Xavia and this Mark have a something going on. I mean, she looks excited already.

Imah said, “Me and Xavia are meeting them first.” I stared at them, then at the person driving the car. Oh, no.

“You mean, I get to meet them as soon as you – ” Imah interrupted. “You’ll meet them soon, Ryne. But right now –”

“I’ll go home? I mean, go back?” I shook my head. “To the hotel?” Xavia nodded approvingly. “Pretty much.” My shoulder slumped and I faced the dashboard of the car again. Then Sky asked, voice devoid of emotion, “Where do you drop off, Xav?”

“You can drop us now, actually.”

“But it’s drizzling.” 

Imah shrugged her shoulders and reasoned, “We better get out now before it gets worse, I think.” So without further ado at the next second, Sky parked the car on the pavement, splashing a bit of water in the process. As Imah and Xavia started to go out, Dash started barking and I had to restrain him from jumping off with them. Why the hell is he leaving me alone? 

“Bye, Ryne.” Xavia said. “You too, Sky.”

“Have fun!” You already know who said that. The rain pounded down hard then, as they closed the door of the car and we drove away. They’re going to get soaked. My brow creased as I released Dash and stared at the place where they were just moments ago.

“Don’t you think we should – ” I looked at my seatmate then and realized who the handsomely scowling face was and fell into an extremely awkward silence. I chewed my tongue and pursed my lips. A minute later, the weather outside changed and immediately, it was raining cats and dogs. And the thing is, I really liked the rain a lot, especially the violent ones – the sounds are so comforting and my view from the window is sort of therapeutically relaxing, with the continuous falling of precipitation from the clouds. It reminds me of one time, when I was ten years old and I’ve been sick as a dog because I stayed out on the rain for far too long.

I relaxed my head on the headrest and sighed deeply. Today had been a productive one, in a sense. I got the hang of shooting but I’m not exactly mastering it like the people do on television. They make it look so easy! But at least I’ve started, right? I stared at the green trees passing us by. I have absolutely no idea which city we are right now – I don’t recognize any of the landscapes from anywhere but I have a feeling that we are somewhere on the countryside.

Then I noticed the road where the car’s tires are flashing through, slowly gaining speed. The clouds were dark, and the glass made it hard to see because of the water pouring from above.

And it’s not exactly safe.

Maybe I have paranoia, Maybe I don’t. But the tires could easily slip on the watery road and…I shivered.

Sky’s scowl of annoyance – I think it’s annoyance – changed to one of concern. 

“Are you cold?” he asked, audible through the patting of the rain through the vehicle’s exterior. “No, it’s just that you’re running a little too fast. Could you please slow it down?” He nodded and did as I said. I just felt like avoiding something that might be an entire catastrophe later. I fidgeted nervously. Nothing’s going to happen, I reminded myself. I’m only cautious. Sky flickered his gaze towards me.

“We could stop over until the rain calms down if you want.” His statement was followed by a violent flash of lightning and a horrible thunder. I almost gulped. I like rains, but not this rain. I told Sky, “I might fall asleep.” I do that all the time. I mean, the constant pounding sound of the rain and everything. It’s perfect for dozing off.

Sky smiled. “You always do.” 

I gave a smile of my own. He has a point. “That’s encouraging.” I said as I drew my knees up to my chest and put my forehead on my knees. Then Sky parked the car and turned the engine off, putting the keys safely in his pocket. He rested his own head on the back of his seat. I closed my eyes, not bothering with my glasses – it’s just a small nap anyway. My sore arms and back gave in and I drifted to sleep.


The insider put off their binoculars. They have absolutely no idea. The person smiled. Ice had been right. 


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