Gym of Dreams: Jasper


By xythan_shadow

I open with a standing hook sweep, trying to test his limits and get him off balance. I aim for the right foot that he has extended, but right when my foot would have made contact, he raises it into a front snap kick that is headed for my chin. I lean back dodging it, but I am hit by the same foot in the gut. He had shifted his weight slightly and followed his front kick with a side kick to my stomach with the same leg. I’ve never seen someone as big as him move so fast or be so balanced. Dodging the punch that was coming for my head, I hop back. Quickly catching my breath, I avoid the side kick coming at me. “He’s really quick” I think, “I’m going to have to step it up a bit.” I parry the next blow, stepping into his stride and attempt a punch to his midsection. He tenses at the exact moment, absorbing the blow and comes across with an elbow aimed for my chest. I duck his blow, spinning as I lower myself and attempt another sweep. He backflips a bit and returns to his orignal stance. He smiles as I return to my standing position. I charge him again, sending a flurry of blows his way. He dodges well but I land a few hits. I make a mistake though and overextend a punch, which he counters with a hip toss. I land on my back a few feet away, but I quickly return to my feet and look at him. He’s not even tired and I’m beginning to sweat. The good thing is, I’m adapting to his style. It felt unusual at first, but now I’m beginning to see flaws. But as soon as I think that, I notice that his stance has changed. Instead of his left arm being near his chest in a fist and right arm extended, he now is standing flat footed in what seems to be a Mantis stance. “Damn,” I think. “I’ve seen this stance before. It’s one of the forms of Kung-fu. But it’s so radically different from the stance he was in before.” He smiles as if he knows what I’m thinking and he charges. I scramble to defend myself from his swipes. He’s using more punch attacks now and I can keep up my defenses, but the flurry is so fast and he’s not leaving himself open. Everytime it looks like he’s open, the opportunity passes by so quick, I can’t make any counter attacks. Finally, he makes a small mistake which I can captalize on. I’m able to land a couple of quick punches to his midsection, a quick sweep and I back away. He smiles a bit and changes stances again. “God!” I scream to myself. Quickly I scan his posture. Now his hands are both over head and his leading leg is slightly bent and on his toes. I recongize it as Muay-Thai Kickboxing, a style that specializes in powerful kicks. “Damn, just when I was getting used to his other style.

Smiling that grin of his, he opens with a powerful roundhouse kick. I duck it and attempt to move in, but I’m greeted with a left knee. I quickly block it and dodge the oncoming elbow. I’m beginning to move slower as I block his powerful kicks. His huge legs are breaking through my defenses slightly and I’m getting tired. I counter one kick and get a good toss in and I try to catch my breath. Sam, unfortunatly, landed on his feet and is smiling again. He draws his arms in a giant circle and starts bouncing back and forth in what seems to be Capoeria, a Brazilian martial art that combines dance with attacks. “He’s really not taking it easy on me.” I think. I straighten back up and return to my stance as he comes in with a spinning heel kick. I parry, thinking that I will have an opening, but the kick doesn’t follow through as I thought. His center of balance shifted and he returns to a handstand. “God Capoeria is so hard to follow” I shout internally. I spend the next few minutes just dodging his seemingly random attacks. “He’s too good at this,” I think to myself. I attempt several things before finally getting him off balance enough to land a kick to his leg. He rolls away, stands up, and returns to his first stance. By this point I’m panting heavily and I know I need to stop this fight somehow. My mind is racing on how I can achieve some victory. We’ve agreed on no crippling blows, but I can use a minor Midare Zakura to win this. He charges again leading with a right punch. I slightly duck under it, using my right hand to parry his left counter and go into the Midare Zakura. I land the first three strikes, but Sam immediately counters the final five. He jumps back and says, “Stop!” He turns to Joe and says, “Hire this guy now Joe.”

“Sure thing Sam, but mind if I ask why?” Joe responds. “Yeah, I’m kinda interested also. Looks like you were wearing him down but the show was good” the big guy next to Joe comments. “Yeah Armstrong, I’ll explain. That final attack he just did is called the Midare Zakura. It’s only taught to a select few people that are extremely talented in the art of Ninjutsu. He just performed it perfectly. If I hadn’t blocked it, I would’ve been paralyzed for about an half hour.”

He looks back at me and says, “Isn’t that right?” I stand with my mouth gaping, “How could you possibly know so much?” “My art is based on blending the best attributes from several martial arts, Ninjutsu included. I could never master the Midare Zakura, only defend against it. For you to be able to perform it flawlessly, I know that you are an excellent artist and a trustworthy person because your sensai would never have taught you it if you weren’t.”

I look at Sam in amazement. This guy is an amazing martial artist and an amazing person. Being able to read so much into me is refreshing, but part of me is weary about trusting anyone. Sam ushers us out of the room, turning the light out after we leave. Joe goes behind the counter and into the office. He returns with a few papers and starts to ask me a few questions as I’m still trying to catch my breath.

“Name?” “Ummm Jasper Baker.” “Ok JB. Age?” “22” “Birthdate” “May 2nd” “Current Residence?” I look at Joe and I begin to tell him about me just arriving and having no place to stay just yet. The other big guy, who was called Armstrong says, “Put down my address Joe, he can stay with me till he finds a place.” I look up at him, gazing into his warm blue eyes for a few minutes before I humbly accept his offer. “Well, that’s the majority of the information I need. Here’s what I’m planning. You’ll hold martial arts classes on a scheldule weekly. I’m thinking 3 classes a day on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The rest of the time you’ll be here with me keeping the place up and helping on the floor. You also will be responsible for making most of the shakes and keeping the towels washed and other stuff. Basically you’re going to be my assistant for most of the part. Plus you might be called on to spot people. Also, you have my permission to kick the asses of anyone not putting their stuff away.” Joe turns towards the main lifting area and bellows, “YOU HEAR THAT!” The two guys near me chuckle as Joe clears his throat. “Ahem. Part of your salary will go to Armstrong here to pay for your rent. The rest is yours to spend how you see fit. You have free use of everything here as long as you’re working. We’re here from 4 am to 10 pm each day and 12 pm to 8 pm on Sundays.” I nod my head in agreement of the terms. Joe reaches out his hand to shake mine and says, “Welcome to the family.” I smile from ear to ear as I shake hands with him. “Armstrong, Sam. Would you show our new guy around a bit please?” The two giants nod and usher me towards the main area.

They show me the main lifting area, which is amazing. I see how these two got so big. There’s free weights everywhere and a few machines. It reminds me of a powerlifting gym. Everything here seems to scream “expert lifters”. They show me the tanning area, the sauna and the indoor pool, and then we’re off to the locker room. Once inside, the two guys sit next to each other on a bench and I sit across from them.

“My name is Armstrong, and this is Sam. We’re both pleased to meet ya,” the big guy says. “I’m Jasper” “So Jasper, why don’t you tell us your real name?” Armstrong questions. I look at him with doubt in my expression asking, “What do you mean?” Sam says, “I could tell before you came in that you were keeping something secret.” Armstrong continues, “And I can see in your eyes that you feel that it’s something that you must keep away from the world.” “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t have anything to hide,” I respond. I stare into Armstrong’s ice blue eyes, his gaze unflinching. After a few moments of his look, I finally break down. “Andrew Summers” “And what’s so bad that you had to change your name and run away?” Sam inquires. I go into my full life story while they listen, but I leave out the part about my gift. After my story concludes, Sam responds, “Still holding back I see. You have to be completely honest. It’s hard to hide anything from Armstrong’s and my gifts. I can feel your anxiety and I’m sure Armstrong can see it.” I look at Armstrong and he nods gently. “I don’t understand what you guys mean. What ‘gift’ are you speaking about?” I ask, trying to change the subject. “I can feel people’s emotions along with projecting mine, and Armstrong here can see people’s true selves. That’s why we’re here now with you. I can tell you’re still closed about something,” Sam comments. “And I see your soul is burdened with a heavy weight. You can tell us man, we won’t think any more or less of you for whatever it is,” Armstrong follows. Looking at these two mammoth men, my mind snaps to Josh. These two remind me so much of him, the look of acceptance for what I am, not what I could do for them. They seem that they would treat me the same even if I said my gift was to turn a hard shelled taco into a soft shelled burrito. I exhale a deep breath and I include the missing details about my gift and Josh. Again they listen intently, and when I was finished, Armstrong responds, “See. Don’t you feel tons better?” I nod my head yes. It did feel good to have someone to open up to again. I’m surprised how much I missed Josh. Having him there to talk to whenever I needed was great and I didn’t realize how much I missed it until now. •

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