[For today’s post I am once again incorporating The Daily Post’s Weekly Writing Challenge into the flow of my current project. This week’s challenge is to write a cliffhanger, “a post that will leave readers waiting for more.” That more will come tomorrow.]
“Saw his bout with Jen.” Rex flicked his head back, in the direction of Double-J’s opponent at the other end of the strip.
“Who won?” Double-J sounded indifferent.
“They were tied at 2, then he got the last three.” Rex lowered his voice. “Watch his — ”
Beeeehhhh. Double-J followed his abrupt, guttural dismissal by stepping past Rex. “I’ll figure it out.” He stepped to the center of the strip, raised his foil for the referee’s weight test; a moment later he then tested his foil against his opponent’s lame, an action mirrored by his opponent. The lights on the scoring machine lit correctly, and at the referee’s command the two fencers stepped back to their starting lines, quickly saluted each other and the referee, then donned their masks.
“Fence.” Double-J advanced quickly on his taller opponent, stopping when he reached lunge distance. Another quick step forward — Double-J’s opponent didn’t flinch. Another step — the opponent retreated, Double-J advanced again, began to lunge — the opposite foil flashed, kissed Double-J’s foil, the tip then landing on the shoulder.
Counter-tempo. That was what Rex had been trying to warn Double-J against, the strategy that this opponent (Kristof?) had used to beat Jen. Not the first time Double-J had turned down assistance, probably wouldn’t be the last.
The two fencers traded off-target hits, then Kristof scored again off a retreat. Double-J turned, dark murmurs seeping from the cold gray metal of his mask. Rex caught his eye as he returned to his starting line. “Watch — ”
Rex turned, shaking his head. He knew from watching the earlier bout that Kristof wasn’t skilled enough to beat Double-J on a level playing field. But Double-J’s impatience was playing right into Kristof’s game, and if he let his anger and frustration take over he was likely to continue this misplay.
Rex scratched his chin. He could blurt out his advice now, and hope some rational instinct in Double-J would take heed. Or he could let the bout play out, allow his friend and teammate to go on his own, as he typically preferred. Perhaps he’d see what was happening, respond effectively. Or perhaps he’d continue charging forward, right into his opponent’s strength, straight into an avoidable loss.
“Fence.” Double-J advanced quickly, Kristof waiting at his line like a man with all the time in the world.