Tuesday, May 12, 2020
Thursday, August 29, 2019
The pain began at Cynthia’s heels and moved sharply up the back of her legs. Earlier her calves experienced a sharp pulling sensation that dulled as it moved through her thighs dying in her ass, before exploding in her lower back. Each step was a test of her resolve, both physically in getting home and mentally in questioning if this was a foolish choice, the unhealthy product of rage and hubris. An abstract expression of self-worth yelled into an uncaring and uninterested void.
After the miscarriage and the divorce Cynthia needed to feel in control of something. And that feeling had led her to dust off her law degree and take the first menial clerking position she could find. The move to the city and everything it entailed was invigorating at first, giving her sense of needed control in her life. Now it only showed her how little she had control of. From the reliance on public transit to the hope she would not hear her young neighbors’ activities throughout her apartment after midnight.
The thin metal grating of the stairs outside her third floor walk up apartment required her to remove the heels she was expected to wear at work. She tried not to think of the filth as her feet pressed against the cold metal. A dull shiver coursed up her legs that prompted her to move quicker than expected though the haze of her fatigue. At her door she in a single fluid motion she pulled the key from her purse and inserted it into the lock in a singularly impressive movement. The door closed quickly behind her as she dropped her shoes and tossed her purse aside.
Absent mindlessly she turned the TV on, HGTV on the screen glamorized the suburban life she had fled as she moved to the kitchen and pulled a lean cuisine from the freezer and placed it into the microwave. While her meal heated she brought the cardboard box to the trash. The word ‘LEAN’ jumped out at her. “Fuck You.” She told the box and herself while her gaze moved from the box to her stomach. Though she was by no means fat, her once toned waistline pushed against the elastic of her skirt in a way she was not accustomed to. Begrudgingly Cynthia, released the button at her waist and allowed herself to spill out. She stared at the unwanted flesh until the familiar ding of the microwave pulled her from her wallowing. As she moved toward the couch and TV a sharp bang caught her attention from the opposite side of the apartment. Absently she placed her meal on the coffee table to investigate the noise.
The building on the backside of her apartment was too close for Cynthia’s comfort. If she opened the window and reached out she would almost be able to touch the other building without effort. Because of this she had place two curtains on each window. One for noise, another for light. Pulling each aside a single light grabbed her attention from the surrounding darkness. In the apartment half a floor below hers the shade was open and a naked man stood before her. He was staring directly ahead in what appeared to be a deep focus. His movements were fluid, as he spun a single pair of nunchucks around his body. Her gaze moved slowly from his intense eyes and down his body. The contours of his muscles were rigid and defined flexing in succession while the nunchucks moved slowly around his entire body. She allowed the chucks to be her guide of his body, as they spun from his shoulders to his waist. As the man swung the weapon around his waist she took in the site of his cock, moving in unision with the rest of his body.
For the next week Cynthia rushed home after work and masturbated nearly every evening while watching her neighbor workout naked. Her feelings of guilt at the invasion of his privacy were each night overpowered by her prurient obsession. In an act of conciliation to her guilt she debated standing naked in the window, but her sense of shame at her figure prevented it. With one hand against the window frame and the down the waistband of her shorts she watched her neighbor’s body as it flowed gracefully in seeming perfect control of himself and the nunchucks. And then he looked up and smiled knowinly. It all happened in a single motion, their eyes met and it could not be denied. He knew where to look. In shock Cynthia stepped back and pulled her hands away from herself. Suddenly she was aware only of her breathing, and in this awareness she told herself she needed to take control of herself. She toward the window, looked down and waved with as innocent a smile as she could.
He was in the window, the nunchucks resting on his shoulders. He was motioning for her to open the window, and she did.
“Hello.” He called up to her.
“Hi.” She responded as casually as she could.
He pulled the nunchucks from his shoulders. And held them out. “Can you catch?” He asked. Cynthia nodded and he tossed them to her. After she caught them, he climbed onto his window sill. “Step back.” He told her, and she did.
In a single motion the man jumped between buildings and pulled his naked frame into Cynthia’s apartment. “Hi, Nice to meet you.” He said with an extended hand. The two shook hands and he asked. “Do you want to learn to use those?”
“Sure.” Cynthia answered.
“We’ll need more space he said.”
Cynthia brought him into the living room.
The man stood in front of her and he began to move his hands over her body placing her in the proper stance. Delicately he wrapped her fingers around the nunchuck. “For most movements you’ll want to hold the top of the stick here, it will provide you the most control.” He told her. Next she followed his instructions bringing her right hand up and back while her left moved past her stomach to catch it on the opposite side of her body. Her hand grabbed a handful of the bulky tee shirt she was wearing, instead of catching the nunchuck.
“Easy fix.” He said before grabbing the bottom of her shirt and pulling it over her head in a single motion.
Standing topless before him, Cynthia felt vulnerable, then powerful, as his eyes took in the sight of her exposed breasts, and she noticed his cock twitched ever so slightly.
“This doesn’t feel right.” She told him as she stepped back. Caught off guard the man also stepped back, respectfully giving her more space. His look of concern transformed to a coy smile as Cynthia pulled her sweats pants down her body. She stepped from the garment toward him. “Where were we?” From behind her, he reminded her of the proper grips before moving his hands over her bare body. The back of his fingers traced the curves of her body without making contact from the curve in her hip to the swell of her breasts and around to the back of your neck. “You must be aware of yourself.” He told her, and she was as her nipples stretched outward.
Again she brought her right hand with the chuck up and back and her left moved around her waist. It was not a smooth motion, but it hit smacked her palm. She had closed her grip too slowly to catch it.
“Again,” she heard him behind her. After three more attempt she caught the chuck as it moved behind her and into her waiting left hand. The focus on her faced transformed into a smile.
“Great, now bring your left hand up and back and catch it with your right.” He said.
With her grip on the nunchuck tight, Cynthia brought it across her body and upward. Her movement jerked, causing the chuck to smack her in the middle of her back. She tried again to bring the weapon across her body, but each time the nunchuck struck her back.
“It needs to be a smooth movement.” He said after she looked behind her. “Here.” He said as he stepped closer to her. “Place the nunchuck on the ground.” He told whispered into her ear. She bent over in front of him placing the weapon on the ground. She stood up and he brought his hands to her hips aligning her posture precisely. Slowly he moved his hands to her shoulders then her hands. “A single smooth motion,” he spoke quietly in her ear. He was close enough she could feel his breath on her neck.
He moved her hands across her body simulating the basic movement without the nunchuck, never taking his hands from hers as her body’s craving for his touch grew with each movement. “Ready?” He asked before he slowly released her hands. He moved his fingers back up her arms and lingering for a single moment before moving back before her.
Cynthia looked at the nunchucks on the floor and then to him, standing naked before her and waiting. Her hands moved around her body, simulating the motion. “Be aware of how your body feels.” He advised her. And she was and but she did not bend of to grab the nunchuck, she stepped backward and in a smooth motion grabbed hold of his cock. He was neither soft or hard but she heard him gasp as she began to stroke him. He closed the gap between then and she released him and turned toward him. As he leaned forward to kiss her she took him in her hand again and continued stroking him.
The Four Lessons of Janet Lee
by M.R. Gott
Lesson One from Miyamoto Musashi’s Book of Five Rings.
In her darkened apartment Janet Lee kneels on the hardwood floor. Her open palms rest against her thighs. She wears only the bottom half of a gi, a black sports bra and a blindfold. The blindfold holds her long dark hair back, leaving her muscular shoulders bare. On her left shoulder is a green and black Infinite Ying Yang Tattoo. The only illumination in the room comes from 100’s of candles placed carefully one inch apart around the edge of the room. The soft flickering light reveals the ridges and contours between each of her defined muscles. Before her are two swords resting on a wooden stand a Daisho. The longer blade the Katana is below the shorter bladed Wakizashi. The blades are naked, reflecting and amplifying the dim surrounding candle light. The scabbard for each weapon is beside the open entryway in front of Janet. Through the entryway lies the kitchen and the entrance to the apartment.
Janet focuses on her heartbeat, her practiced concentration keeps her pulse low, despite the mounting anxiety welling within her. No sound escapes her notice, from the gentle breeze rapping on the window behind her to men slowly preparing to enter from outside her second floor apartment door. Their whispers cut through the silence around her, a prelude to the conflict to come.
In quick succession two shot gun blasts come. The speed tells Janet two separate men fired. Next she hears a battering ram against the door handle. With its hinges blown away the door falls to the floor in the kitchen with a dull thud. Heavy boots move through her home and it takes little time for the assault team to find her, moving into the living room from the kitchen. They pay no attention to the furniture pushed against the walls framed by the multitude of small candles. She hears the team form a semi-circle around her, their breath is labored, and she knows they are anxious, and she knows why. Janet uses the sound to count the team members around her. She takes careful notice of the man to her left with the most controlled breathing. Listening closely Janet counts the number of soldiers. There are seven. Across her bare torso she feels the subtle warmth of the laser sights trained on her. The sound of a muffled hum comes next as the team switches on their night vision.
“Hands on your fucking head!” A woman to Janet’s right yells, and she knows that Lisa Bernard is hesitant. She was always easy to read in moments of stress. Slowly Janet follows the command, waiting because he has not arrived yet.
With the team in place she hears the voice of the calmest team member on her left. His voice is balanced as he speaks into his mic, and she recognizes it instantly. Darren Smith. “Target acquired and contained.” Even sprinting she never saw the man break a sweat.
From the broken entryway Janet hears his soft footed approach. He always enjoyed his spectacle, to revel in his sense of power. It is tragically predictable. Unlike the assault team he moves with a methodically deliberate pace, taking in the darkness all around him. Janet hears him enter the room and chuckle. Donvan.
“Really Ms. Lee, Seppuku. A bit fucking melodramatic, but fitting for a control freak such as yourself. I want you to know that while I am going to torture you, I’m still not sure if I’m going to take your life.”
Janet cannot hide a tiny smirk at his self-assurance.
“And what is it you find so amusing about this situation?”
“Melodramatic, controlling. You’re the one who enters with fucking stormtroopers.”
“Perhaps, Ms. Lee. But you’re still crude and rudimentary, and those are the qualities that have brought us to this point.”
Janet’s response is the press of a button concealed in her palm. In a moment the flash bangs behind each candle go off. With the assault team blinded Jan rolls forward grabbing the wakizashi blade in her left hand and the Katana in her right. Even blinded Donovan’s survival instincts are amazing and he staggers from the room in an instant. Janet sets to work on the seven members of the assault team, remembering the words of Miyamoto Musashi “When you are fighting more than one enemy you must use both of your swords and strike quickly and strongly without hesitation. You must go for the strongest attacker first.” Janet is upon Darren before he can fire. With refined movements her blades move in turn to the throats of the blinded flailing assault team. Janet steps from one to another with practiced and planned movements. Each motion causes a bloody eruption, a precursor to each death. After taking seven lives Janet moves toward the entryway and places her back to the wall beside the entrance to the kitchen. Next she removes her blindfold. Reaching beside the door frame she takes the sheaths and returns each blade accordingly. She then wraps them around her body. Finally she takes a semi-automatic rifle from the corpse nearest to her.
“Ms. Lee.” Donovan begins from the hallway before pausing. “I’ve got another full team out here, and I really want to torture not fucking kill you.”
“You know your crude rudimentary behavior has brought us to this point?” Janet responds.
Donovan fires a single round into the apartment. Jan empties the semiautomatics rifle’s clip in short bursts as a response. She fires with slow sweeping motions. Her aim lowering as she moves back towards the window. When the weapon clicks empty she tosses it aside and in a single motion opens and climbs through the window. From the ledge she grabs a strong nylon rope and slides two stories down. Her bare feet fall upon the cold roof of a dark blue van. She climbs through the open driver side window. Her fingers come to the waiting ignition key. The engine turns on and she pulls away into the night, with all of her fears confirmed.
Lesson Two From Sun Tzu’s Art of War
The expected battle in her apartment reveals two truths to Janet. First that Donovan is corrupt and secondly he is still very confident in his ability to deceive. When he recruited her from her small Dojo to train an elite tactical response squad she had been flattered, and the vanity of that flattery had blinded her to the realities of her situation longer than they should have. The seven dead in her apartment were part of Donovan’s squad. Janet hopes she can stop Donovan before she is forced to decide between her own life and the remaining 18 students she took on under Donovan. What she needs to stop him is at the government complex he runs and as she drives that way, she hopes that her neighbors are unharmed and calling the police. She needs a head start before she can finish off Donvan.
Leaving the city and headed toward the Special Forces complex Janet pulls over and steps out of her van. She walks to the rear of the vehicle and opens the back doors. The rear is empty except for a pair of large rectangular duffle bags. Janet pulls one out, unzips and removes a package of baby wipes. With steady hands she wipes her student’s blood from her skin. Shivering in the moonlight she tells herself this is from the cool night air, but also knows that is a lie. She discards each wipe onto the ground before pulling the gi’s shirt and a pair of sneakers from the bag. Dressing quickly she returns to the driver’s seat and pulls back onto the empty road.
The complex looms before her, signs lie to her, telling her this is government property and that trespassers will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, not executed by a rogue agent looking to frame them as a patsy. Janet pulls up to the security shed, stopping before a mechanical fence. She has her ID ready and hands it to the waiting attendant. The younger, clean shaven man studies the image, before looking back at her.
“Little late, isn’t it?” He asks leading her.
“Donovan likes to keep his squad on their toes. I just left a date the moment the food arrived.”
“He is utterly random times. I guess I’ll expect him the squad soon.” The guard laments, confirming more of Janet’s suspicious.
“Well, it’s a training OPP, I gotta’ get in and set up before he and the rest of the squad arrive.”
“I won’t keep you then.” The guard replies as he pushes a button, opening the gate. “Thanks for the heads up about the others coming in.” He says as he hands her back her ID. Janet pulls forward into the complex. Driving across the parking lot with her window down, she hears the gate closing behind her. The sound lets her know that she is now locked in with her enemies.
The complex is a long single story building jettisoning off in multiple directions; a true labyrinth for the uninitiated. Janet pulls the opposite duffle bag from the rear and hoists it over her shoulder with a grunt, before she moves toward the main entrance with her ID in hand. She swipes in by the door sensor and hears a familiar high pitched ding followed by a click. Quickly she grabs the door and pulls it open. The guard inside she recognizes, the adorably naive Jamal Cooke.
“Donovan’s all about last minute readiness, so here we are, middle of the night for a sparring session.”
“That sucks. Best of luck with it.” Jamal chuckles and Janet moves past him down a narrow indistinct hallway. On her left and right are identical doors. An electronic key fab grants access to each room and provides a record of who entered what room, nearly every staff member has access to nearly every room because of this record system.
Janet moves past the door to the gym and into the shipping storehouse. She swipes her ID by the key fab, and the waits a moment. A green light flashes with a ding, the mechanical door opens slowly. She enters the room and once inside she drops her bag to the floor then opens it quickly. From the duffle she pulls out a series of weapons. Janet straps a set of sais to her hips, a pair of nunchucks fit into the small of her back, and a rod the length of her palm into the gi’s cloth belt. Finally she pulls out her phone before moving with with purpose through the stacks of shipping containers. Steps before she arrives at her destination, the Mexican shipments, her phone vibrates in her hand. Looking down she sees it is Donovan and swipes ignore.
Pulling a sai from her hip she pries open a container, confirming the fentanyl and opium inside. She turns on her phone’s video recorder and moves it over the shipping labels, ensuring the installation’s address is clear and moving it to the opened container. Finally she moves through the room, proving the location of the cargo. As she does the PA system sounds.
“Janet Lee, please pick up the phone in the cargo bay. There is an incoming call for. If you do not pick up quickly an officer will be dispensed to your location for assistance.”
“Perfect.” Janet thinks to herself. She jogs quickly toward the phone and removes it from the cradle, ensuring the camera picks up everything.
“Janet, Janet Lee. I must say I am impressed with your direct approach.” She can tell Donovan is in the back of a car. She waits a moment before responding.
“Robert Donovan, I told you I was tenacious when you hired me, I promised I could keep up your crew and would keep you all on your toes.”
“Yes, you did.” Donovan sighs. It’s a fucking shame really what you did to Darren. He was my best man.”
“You did that to him, you killed him. Anyone you send after me will die. Don’t make me kill the last 18 team members you have.”
Donovan laughs. “Janet, my poor Janet. That was only one of my team’s I had you training.”
Janet drops the wall phone and it dangles from the cord. She can hear Donovan’s voice through her panic. She breathes in slowly trying to compose herself. Next she presses stop on her camera and attaches the video file to a drafted group email to multiple reporters across the country and sends it. “The Supreme Art of War is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” She looks to the door ready to leave, when she hears it ding, unlocking. “So much for Sun Tzu,” she thinks to herself.
Lesson Three from Morihei Ueshiba’s The Art of Peace
“Let attackers come any way they like and then blend with them. Never Chase after opponents. Redirct each attack and get firmly behind it.” In a reverse grip Janet holds a sai in her right hand, with the length of the weapon braced against her forearm to increase its power. Janet brings the blunt end of sai forward and through the partially open door. The weapon strikes the clear face shield of strike team member preparing to move through the door. The force knocks his head backward and exposes his neck. Janet spins the sai between her fingers, then drives the nearly two foot length through his momentarily exposed neck. He staggers backward, gagging, Janet steps forward with him through the now open door, using the man’s dying body as a barrier between herself and his partner. Before the man’s partner can process what is happening she grabs the sai like a dagger pulling it from his neck, before bringing the bloody weapon down against the partner’s rising rifle and hooks the center of the weapon in the sai’s prongs.
Janet then turns and spins, moving into a crouch pulling the man still clutching the weapon over her shoulder. He lands with a thud that knocks the wind from his body as the rifle and sai skitter across the hallway floor. With the man’s head by her feet, Janet pulls his pistol from the holster at his hip and fires into his neck. The single shot echoes in the narrow space. Janet spins on her heel and aims the weapon toward the main entrance. She waits, assessing the situation before moving to escape. She waits for a beat to pass, then another. Relieved Janet takes a step forward, just as a squad of four round the corner. Janet drives backward firing as gun blasts erupt around her.
The advancing squad pulls back, the lead member firing blindly around the corner. Janet continues to fire until the pistol clicks empty. Reaching up she swipes her key card, which beeps before the door begins to open. As it does Janet pulls the body of the guard on top of her, willing herself to remain unseen as his blood continues to spill from the wound at his neck. With the corpse atop her Janet cannot see anything, but hears the heavy boots of the squad advancing toward the door.
They move together in quick deliberate paces, the sound of their footfalls grow louder before becoming muffled in the spilt blood around the door. Janet is betting on their callous nature, and that they will not check the two fallen bodies for a pulse. She is right. She hears a high pitched ding, then the door opening. They have taken her bait. In rapid succession they enter the room in two by two formation. Once the door slides shut Janet shoves the body off her and climbs to her feet. She draws the remaining sai for her hip as she moves toward the exit, worried about Sam Cooke.
Janet sees Sam at this desk as she turns the corner. He is on his cell phone, giving her a perplexed look. He holds one empty towards her, palm forward. “Yes officer.” He says loudly into the phone, “Something violent is happening here between federal employees. I don’t fucking know what but send someone not affiliated with this place.” Janet walks past him and outside the facility.
At a brisk pace Janet moves through the cold night air to her van, and sees Donovan leaning leisurely against the back door. He holds a pistol casually in one hand.
“A sai to a gunfight, how very fitting.” Donovan he taunts.
Janet holds up the sai, she releases the handle catching the weapon by the tip of the longer center prong. “You want me to toss it away?” She asks taking a few more steps forward.
“No point really.” Donovan answers. “You’re the one who taught that its not a ranged weapon.”
“I guess you were paying attention.” Janet says. “What you missed though, is that it can only really be thrown twice the distance of the blade.”
As Donovan begins to calculate the distance between the two Janet steps forward throwing the sai. It makes a full rotation before plunging into Donovan’s shoulder. In pain he struggles to aim his pistol, but before he can get Janet in his sights, an expanding metal rod collides with his shins, tripping him. In the time it takes him to land on his face, Janet is behind him with a pair of nunchucks wrapped around his neck.
The blood of Donovan’s men drips from her body onto him as she squeezes the chain tighter. Janet brings his head up so her lips are beside his ear. He can feel her breathe on him, her rage nearly beyond control. A moment passes between them, then another. Janet hears the front gate opening and a single car peels into the parking lot. It is a plain civilian vehicle, with a police light flashing. A squeal of breaks cuts through the silence of the night, and bulky man in a disheveled dress shirt and tie steps quickly from the car, not bothering to shut the door. His face is obstructed from Janet’s view by the large revolver he is pointing at her. “Police!” He shouts out to both of them.
Lesson Four From Yamamoto Tsunetomo’s Hagakure
“Would you prefer to prove me wrong, or prove yourself right Sargent Hallenbeck?” Janet asks in the brick walled interrogation room of the police precinct. Sitting across from her is the bulky man who an hour earlier had arrested her and placed Donovan in police custody, which was undoubtedly a hospital bed to which he was hand cuffed.
Charles Hallenbeck raised his hand to his forehead and scratched it. Janet was somehow both incredibly compliant and the most difficult suspect he had ever interrogated. “And the difference would be?’’ He asks.
“Are you more focused on understanding those around you or dismissing them?”
“I simply want to know what happened.” Pegg says.
“And I have told you in detail everything from being attacked at my apartment to the fight at the installation. I have also told you that I emailed proof of the smuggling to a collection of news outlets. I do not see how which specific outlets are pertinent to your line of questioning, thougho I am confident that the eventually those will be revealed when the time comes. May I give them your information to so they may corroborate my story with your account of the matter?”
“Yeah that’s fine.” Pegg realizes he is answering another one of her questions. “The question I am looking for you to answer Ms Lee is, why did you lay ambush to the men at your apartment? Why you took the actions you did?”
“It is a mischaracterization to say I ambushed someone at my place, when I did not invite them over. And if someone broke into your place brandishing weapons you wouldn’t have defended yourself?”
“Another question.” Pegg replies. “This is about your choices.”
“No it is about my actions, the why is up to you to establish. Do you need help explaining why someone would defend themselves while in their home?”
“You have my statement, you have a mountain of physical evidence, what you need to decide is what you will do with this information. Or is it not your decision how to proceed?” Janet asks.
A pause before Hallenbeck responds gives Janet all the information she needs.
“Did you bring a lunch with you to work today?” Janet asks.
“I caught this call because I was working the late shift”
“So did you bring dinner or a meal of some sort?”
“No why?” Hallenbeck asks.
“Are you familiar with the book the Hagakure by Yamamoto Tsunetomo?”
“No, what does that to do with anything?”
Janet waits a moment before answering. “We are reaching the end of our encounter. In the Hagakure it speaks of flower viewing in the Kamigata area. During this time they brought lunch and a specific single use lunchbox which was to be destroyed upon the day’s end. The lesson is that, ‘The end is important in all things.’ We are approaching the end of our time together. If you even want to see me again I teach at the Service Dojo on the East side, you’re welcome to visit at anytime.” Janet stands slowly and moves to the door with a confidence that belays Hallenbecks’s initial response to stop her. He follows her out into the hallway.
“Ms. Wu, please stop I have not released you yet.”
“I’m not yours to release.” Janet calls back without pausing or turning.
A hand comes down on Hallenbeck’s shoulder. It belongs to his supervisor, who just emerged from the observation room.
“Let her go Chuck. I’ve got some media sources that confirmed her mass email. Her role as Federal instructor also gives her license to possess the flashbangs she used as well as her armed entry into the facility. It’s over.”
“The end is important in all things.” Hallenbeck mumbles to himself as he watches Janet disappear around a corner.