The Arena - Cover

The Arena

Copyright© 2019 by Christopher Podhola

Chapter 2: The Arena

Bring your body outside. Let’s go get some fresh air, Tommy thought to her as he got up from the couch. Whitney got up too, and Tommy waited as she walked to the front of him. With her in front of him, she could see her body through his eyes, and watch herself walk. Doing that enabled her to know where she was going and it made it possible for her to walk without any kind of aid. She went to the back door and Tommy followed behind her.

They went to the back yard and Whitney sat her body down on a reclining lawn chair. Tommy watched her get herself situated. Quit looking at me now. You know I hate that! She thought to him. I look so pathetic!

Tommy rolled his eyes. You’re not pathetic. You’re blind and deaf. There’s a difference.

No, not really! Without you, I can’t do anything. Like yesterday. I didn’t get up from the couch.

Crap! I almost forgot mom wants—

Aunt Carol wants, Whitney interrupted.

Mom wants, he continued. I’ll think of her as mom if I want, thank you very much. She wants you to eat something.

Not hungry, Whitney replied as she leaned her body back onto the recliner.

Always so difficult.


Tommy gave up. He knew what the result of arguing with her would be. They would argue. That’s it. She said she wasn’t hungry. She would dig her heels in and stick by what she said. Nothing would change her mind. That was her way. If she decided she was hungry, she would eat. Instead of going through that, he walked to the garage, leaned behind the chest freezer and picked up the sword he and Jacob made the day before.

It wasn’t anything fancy. It was a cut down broomstick with duct tape carefully and neatly wrapped around one end for a handle. It did the job. He left it in the garage because Aunt Carol would freak out if she saw it.

Watcha gonna do with that thing? Beat up some poor, defenseless cat? Whitney asked him sarcastically.

Gonna get in a little more sword practice, he thought back to her as he walked through the front of the garage. He turned away from the house to avoid letting their Aunt Carol see him with the makeshift sword and headed off toward the small forest grouping on the East side of the property.

You really are a dork, ya know. You’ll probably end up smacking yourself in the face with it.

You’d probably get a kick out of that.

Lookin’ forward to it!

At least she was looking forward to something. Anything was better than her feeling sorry for herself. Tommy, reaching the forest line and walking inside, found a decent sized clearing in the trees. He brought the sword to his front. It was time to go, in his mind’s creative eye, to another place, a place where the weapon of choice was a sword, where honor—

DORK! Whitney thought to him again.

“Huh?” Tommy asked.

It’s time to go to another place, a place where the weapon of choice is a sword, where honor ... You’re such a dweebazoid! Dork, dork, dork!

“Well it’s not the same if you don’t set the mood first,” he answered.

Tommy could feel her smile, filling his head the same way the sun fills the air with warmth after reappearing from behind a cloud.

Go ahead then, Whitney thought to him, let’s see if you can do anything other than bruise your knees with your broom ... I mean weapon of choice, she finished with a giggle.

Tommy brought the sword back to his front, took an athletic stance, gripping the hilt firmly, but with a flexible wrist.

Ta, ta, ta, ta—day junior!

He pivoted the sword in his hands, allowing it to roll over, then quickly slashing it in front of him, the stick making a whooshing noise as it cut the air.

HI-YA! Whitney thought in his head. She timed it with his swing.

“Are you jealous?” he asked her. The thought jumped out at him like a child, but as soon as the words left his mouth, he knew there was something to it.

Jealous of what? I mean who are you supposed to be? Obi Wan pastrami?

Kenobi! He answered, but it wasn’t Obi Wan he was trying to mimic. He was mimicking the dream version of his sister. You are jealous.

No, I’m not jealous. You’re holding a broomstick with tape on it and swinging it around at nothing.

He could sense the lie behind her words.

“Do you want to try it?” he asked her.

That’s not funny, Tommy. You know I can’t.

“I don’t know that at all.”

Tommy slashed and sliced his wooden practice sword through the air and he couldn’t help but notice her interest. She said nothing at first, and he could feel the duality in her, struggling between the desires of wielding a sword, mixed against the fear of being the one targeted by his mockery. She was mocking him because that was her way.

I bet you look ridiculous. I wish I could see you with my own eyes. That way I could laugh my butt off! Whitney scoffed.

Tommy lowered his sword and stood straight up. Actually Whit. That’s not a bad idea.

What idea?

We could go to the helm, he answered. I could create an arena and we could both practice!

I guess, she thought. He could feel her spirits lifting.

Whitney could piggyback two ways with him. The first and most common was when Whitney just slipped her consciousness in. The experience was similar to watching a television program. She saw everything Tommy saw, heard everything Tommy heard, and felt everything he felt. She was privy to every thought on the surface of his mind. They called it piggybacking, but more specifically, they thought of it as ‘riding along.’ They weren’t limited to that. If he wanted to, he could create an entire alternate realm. The helm was just one of the realms he created for them to interact. It existed in his mind and his mind only. The ‘helm’ was like the cockpit of a ship. He created that reality because he could interact with Whitney in it and still have control over his body. He did that by imagining himself wearing a body suit complete with sensors duplicating his movements in the ‘real world.’ The front of that cockpit was a movie screen that showed whatever his eyes were looking at, and speakers that brought in the sounds of the ‘outside world.’ Being in the ‘helm’ allowed them to talk things out like normal people could—face to face—instead of thought to thought. It was an alternate reality.

When they ‘went to the helm’ both of their bodies were replicated in his mind and the alternate reality that Tommy created. Whitney liked it because Tommy could actually give her sight and sound in there. It made her feel like a normal person.

Oh, I would so kick your butt in a swordfight! She thought to him.

Yeah? Prove it! He said back to her.

Tommy laid his sword on the ground and sat next to it. The plan was to build an arena in his mind and for them to interact in it. There were risks involved. He wouldn’t have control over his body at all. His body functions would continue, but he wouldn’t see or hear anything that was happening in the outside world. He, as well as Whitney, would only be aware of what was happening in the arena and they would both be completely ignorant of anything and everything outside of it. A bear could munch on his leg while he was inside of his alternate reality and he wouldn’t feel a thing. That was the downside.

He lay back on the ground, folded his hands across his chest, and closed his eyes. Whitney withdrew from him, but only momentarily. When she returned to him, their world would be different.

Tommy kept the arena as simple as possible. It was a twenty-foot round mat, surrounded by nothing. It floated amongst darkness as if it existed in the very center of the universe. He surrounded the practice mat with bleachers and filled the bleachers with an audience. Five feet in from the edge of the mat was a red ring, which represented the outside boundary of their practice area. The red ring signified something else. It signified the location of a force field that would issue a penalty shock if something would force either of them into it. The force field surrounded the arena in its entirety, forming a bubble like dome. When Whitney returned to him, she didn’t just return as one consciousness joined with another. She stood with him, face to face, standing in the center of the ring.

The crowd stood to their feet and shouts and applause filled the arena.

Tommy modeled the tunic she wore after the one he saw her wearing in his dreams. Whitney was no longer privy to his thoughts so he opened the door to his dreams and let himself see them. He didn’t make the outfit the same, however. He made her tunic black. He gave her a maroon cape, and he armed her with her training swords only, but he did give her two of them. Just like in his dream.

When Tommy and Whitney piggyback, Whitney’s eyes are deep, ocean blue like his, and even though they were piggybacking while they stood in the arena, Tommy still chose for the retinas of her eyes to be silver. He liked her silver eyes because they were different. He liked them because they were impressive to look at, and because they were mesmerizing. As soon as Whitney returned, she looked down at herself.

“I feel ridiculous!” she said. “You look ridiculous! And most of all ... they sound ridiculous,” she added slinging a thumb over her shoulder toward the crowd.

The practice swords that Tommy created were hollow metal short swords. The blades were round tubes with blunt ends so that they felt the stabs, but they wouldn’t puncture. He gave them just enough weight so that each of them would feel the blows. The hilts were ornate and the handles form fit each of their hands. Whitney drew both of hers, looked at them, and then put them back.

Tell her Thomas. Explain to her why you brought her here.

He shook his head no.

“No what?” she asked him.

“Nothing,” he said.

Already, she looked more confident. Could she handle the truth ... if he told it to her in here?

He drew his sword. “Let’s give this a shot.”

Her eyes darted away. “I, um ... why don’t I just watch you for a while?”

See. She’s pathetic, Thomas. She’s weak because you coddle her. Tell her. A warrior doesn’t need a baby bottle.

She can’t handle it, dammit!

He took two steps toward her, as if to demonstrate to his inner voice who was right. He lifted his sword as if he were about to strike. Whitney countered by stepping away. With every step forward he took, she stepped back.

“Stop it, Tommy. I said I want to watch you first.”


Hit her.


DO IT! His sister’s voice commanded.

He did. He swung the sword. As it arced through the air, Whitney leapt back. She wasn’t fast enough. The practice sword hit her in the side, propelling her backward.

“Ouch,” she cried. She stumbled back, hitting the force-field, shocking her to the ground.

Okay, now I feel like an ass.

You are an ass. You’re an ass because you’ve let her become weak and pathetic. It’s time to fix that. Keep going.


Whitney looked up at him with wounded eyes. Tommy still held the sword in his hands—at the ready.

“I don’t think I like this, Tommy.”

Make her angry.

What? No. Haven’t I done enough damage? Are you getting off on this or something?

Do it, Thomas. Piss her off, but be careful when you do. Prim are dangerous when they’re angry.


“What’s wrong with you Tommy?” Whitney asked. “You’re acting weird, like we’re piggybacking.”

“We are.”

“You know what I mean.”

Tommy turned away, letting the sword swing to his side.

Make her angry.

“It’s just that ... I’ve decided to keep living my own life. I’m going to keep spending time with my friends whenever I want to.”

“What?” she said. She sounded more hurt than angry.

I can’t do this!

Keep going.

“It’s only fair Whitney. I have my own life.”

“You promised me. Less than a half hour ago, Tommy,” she said. Her head lowered slightly and her eyes burned.

“I know, but I didn’t mean it,” he said.

Her hands began to flex, going from relaxed, to fisted. Relaxed. Fisted.

“Take it back,” she said.

He shook his head no. “Whenever I want, Whitney. I’m just going to go spend time with my friends.”

Her lips pursed and her jaw muscles flexed.

“No,” she said. “We are one, remember. Left hand and right? How long have you said that to me?”

“I don’t care,” he said. “Left hand seems to be brok—”

“AAAAUGHHH!” she cried, drawing both her swords as she charged him. Before he could spin around, she swung both swords, striking him in the back, knocking him to the ground.

The source of this story is SciFi-Stories

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