Smudged Slate

Ch 1

Go away.

I don't want to talk to you.

Go away.

I don't want to hurt you.

Go away.

I don't care about you

Go away

I don't like you.

GO AWAY!

The artist buried his head in his sketchbook and his mind in the sketches, his mechanical pencil's lead scratching across the paper, leaving behind thin layers of graphite.

"…this land is sure to vote for me. I'm an intellectual, you're a stupid dumbass…"

Yes, you are. Now shut up.

The pencil detailed a strike against a person wielding a pole. The artist could care less about the parody of a patriotic song, relating to the upcoming election. He could care less about the election, for that matter.

This life is sure to suck for me.

The artist sighed, flipping the pencil over and erasing a few lines. The kid singing the song in a vain attempt to get chuckle, even a smile out of him, continued, oblivious of the fact that the artist was paying him no attention, listening instead to AC/DC's 'Back in Black' on a pair of earbuds.

No, that's the wrong angle for a strike against a skilled opponent.

The pencil redid the drawing.

No.

The eraser rubbed away the thin layer of graphite. The artist spun the pencil again, trying a new approach.

No.

Another erasure, another try.

No.

Again.

No.

Again.

No.

Again.

Perhaps.

The artist bit the tip of his tongue gently. It looked like that attack could work. He circled the points that were a little iffy and wrote 'TEST' in big, bold letters next to the sketch. Pushing the pause button on the MP3 player in his pocket, he blew out a breath and pulled the earbuds from his ears.

"Hey Ker."

The artist, who had been christened by the name of Ker at birth, actually looked up. He had just been addressed by one of the people that he actually considered worth his time. "Hello Nate."

The boy who had addressed the artist, or rather, Ker, was known by all as Nate Chambers. Full given name, Nathaniel, he was a tall and very skinny kid, with literally almost no excess body fat. His longish, tousled dirty-blonde hair hung in front of his eyes, giving him a withdrawn look, further compounded by the fact that he spoke to few people. Most people thought he did drugs. Ker knew this wasn't the truth. He, like Ker, had a much different hobby than precipitating strange chemical reactions in one's body by adding foreign substances to said bodies.

Nate, other than his overwhelming silence towards most people, was remarkable as be one of the few students to ever actually fail an art class that they worked at. And as previously stated, he had the same hobby as Ker, along with a few other people, though that wasn't well known.

Nate was wont to dress in a random t-shirt and blue jeans, or perhaps a pair of sweatpants, not caring at all what the logo on it was, or what witty saying might be on the front.

Ker, on the other hand, had black hair, straight and worn down a little past his shoulders. His bangs covered his eyes as well, but no one would mistake his eyes as withdrawn from the world. A pair of slate-gray orbs, the look in them was as sharp as Occam's Razor, functioning in much the same way. Of a little over average height, and of a fairly skinny build, he moved in a very smooth and connected manner.

Ker was well known for the biting sarcasm which was his normal mode of speech, as well at the fact that he continually was sketching in an ever-present book, though few had actually seen the product of his pencil. He had been accused of being gay a few times, in relation to his hair.

Ker wore flat black, dark blue, or occasionally drab green. Period. He also wore a silver necklace with the Kabblistic tree on it. That was the sum total of his wardrobe. It was obviously calculated to not draw attention. Not that many would pay him much after a few times of trying to talk to him and experiencing his rather unnerving gaze.

"So, what time are we all getting together?" asked Nate, getting right down to business.

"Call it Saturday, 12:30," replied Ker. "Who's coming?"

"Me, Sean, and Ethan."

"So, not Brett or Tara."

"Nope. Brett's out of town, and Tara has something else to do. You will be there, right?"

"Of course. When have I ever missed it?"

"Never, not even when you should have been in bed. I still don't know how you pulled that stunt off when you had pneumonia."

"Determination." Ker left it at that. Nate had known for a long time that Ker had extraordinary control over his body. He doubted that Ker would let anything short of the Ebola virus slow him down, and then only to gather extra energy to fight it. But no matter how much Ker tried to explain the trick, none of his friends could quite grasp it.

"Right, right. We'll all be there Saturday." Nate's eyes scanned the room. "Looks like Ethan's coming over."

"I know," said Ker, who had been looking down at his notebook, drumming his fingers on it. He started a rhythmic tap that increased in speed as Ethan got closer.

"How do you do that?" asked Ethan, as he sat down next to Ker.

"Perceive even that which cannot be seen," quoted Ker.

"Yeah, yeah." Ethan put his feet up on a music stand. Nate leaned against the instrument lockers. "So was the time you told me earlier correct?"

"As of now it is," answered Ker, spinning his pencil in between his fingers. His gaze slashed across the room, taking in all that was there. A slight frown curved his lips downward.

Ethan spotted the frown. "You really need to do something about that, man."

Ker grunted in annoyance. "There's nothing to do."

"Yes there is," argued Ethan as Nate tried to tell him to be quiet. "She likes dark, mysterious guys. At least that's what I heard."

"I wish you would stop harping on it, Ethan. It's nice of you to be supportive, but honestly, there's no way she would ever be interested in me."

Nate shifted uncomfortably. "Actually I heard a rumor that she's got a crush on you."

"Ashley, with a crush on me? A nice thought, but so unlikely that it's not worth mentioning." He waved his hand over to where some good-looking guy was telling her a joke. "We, my friends, are the dregs. No one bothers with us when the cream is available. We shall live and love with the dregs, and so it shall remain." The bell rang, signaling the end of school. "I'll see you two at the game tonight." Ker walked off, hands in his pockets.


Ethan was a fairly big guy. He wore his hair like a Shinto priest, shaved down as far as possible. Normally he wore white clothing, but he, like Nate and Ker, was currently stuffed into a marching band uniform, then stuffed into the crowded band stands. Normally, Ethan was rather intimidating, what with his sheer size and shaved head, along with the look of determination he normally wore. But he just looked comical in band uniform. Nate actually looked more normal in uniform, since his hair was up out of his eyes. On the other hand, the uniform made him look goofy. Ker was an exception. With his unnerving gaze, could wear a pink tutu and still manage to look as if he shouldn't be messed with. It was actually rather creepy.

Due to their reputations, they were able to achieve a certain amount of isolation, staking out a corner for themselves and Tara, who was Ethan's girlfriend and Ker's twin sister. Tara could pass for Ker if it wasn't for the fact that they were different genders, and the fact that she didn't have the eyes that were uniquely Ker's. Recently she had taken to wearing her hair short to create a greater difference in her and her brother's looks.

Ker sat in the corner with his ever-present sketchbook. Ethan and Nate sat to the side of him and directly below him, respectively, while Tara leaned up against Ethan's legs. They all looked at the sketchbook as Ker explained the latest set of drawings, which ranged from ball and stick figures to some seriously detailed works that left no doubt of the identity of the person depicted. But all of the drawings had a common thread.

In every sketch the figures were locked in combat. There were many series of sketches that depicted battles, often with arrows showing each movement. Ker explained the movements and basic ideas behind each in a low voice, only to be interrupted by the call to play a pep band piece.

As the piece ended, the four sat back down, Ker reopened the book, and they continued. It had become ritual. Eyes watched them, some curious, some jealous, and some spiteful. And just like every other time, when it came time for practicing for the show, Ker closed the book and swept his gaze over the others. "These are the ideas. We make the reality tomorrow. 12:30, my house."

The others nodded. Life went on, as it always did. Soon. Soon it would be time for them to live.


Ker grasped his wooden practice swords with a tight feeling in his pinky and ring finger, a firm feeling in his middle finger, and a floating feeling in his index and thumb, the prescribed one-handed sword grip of Miyamoto Musashi. Nate stared him down, holding a jo staff in his callused hands. Both had their hair out of their eyes, Nate using a bandanna while Ker pulled his hair up into a topknot.

Ethan stood ready as referee. "Standard rules. Begin!"

Nate took the offensive, thrusting the staff forwards at Ker, who simply dodged to the right, using his left-hand sword to keep Nate from swinging the pole into him. He returned the attack with his right-hand sword, cutting in with a horizontal blow. Nate was more than ready for this, twisting his body and the staff around to block the strike, using the left sword as a fulcrum. The two jumped back, Ker taking the offensive as he lunged forward, swinging his swords in from both sides at different heights. Nate interposed his weapon lengthwise between the two strikes, spinning the pole so that the blows were deflected in what would have been a very off-balancing nature. Unfortunately, his opponent, knowing that particular parry, also knew the counter. He used the force of the deflection to spin him, bringing his swords to their positions by centrifugal force.

Nate tried an overhead strike with his staff, but Ker brought both swords up to catch it, and pulled it down, to the side, and back. Nate was jerked forwards, right into the kick that Ker used to balance himself.

"OOOF!" Nate stumbled backwards, pole still in his hands. By the rules, he was still in, as only what would be a killing or disabling strike with a real weapon counted as a true point, but getting kicked in the stomach was not pleasant.

Ker smirked and flipped his left-hand sword over to a backhand grip, laying the spine of the wooden blade along his forearm. Nate swung the pole at Ker's left. Perfect.

Ker brought the left sword up to take the blow. The pole smashed into the sword, bashing the wooden weapon into Ker's forearm, rebounding slightly. That was all Ker needed, as he wrapped the blade up around the pole and trapped the jo against his arm.

Nate struggled to free the pole, tugging on it, but Ker's tendons stood out as he kept the weapon trapped, riding it into Nate's range. As Nate finally freed his weapon, he took what would have been a disemboweling strike with a real sword across his stomach.

Nate collapsed as the breath left him. "Heh…nice one."

"No kidding," added Ethan. "I'd say Ker wins."

Ker smiled. "Yeah, but at a price. That really hurt my wrist. Still, it certainly worked." He pulled Nate up. "So, who's next?"

Ethan cracked his neck. "I'll take on Sean once he gets out here." He picked up his pair of wooden Chinese scimitars.

Ker nodded. "I'll ref."

It proved to be a very satisfying session. Once again, they pushed their limits, focused their souls, and truly lived. The informal martial arts club known as Touki no Fenikkusu-ryu was their haven. Soon, it would be their salvation.


This was written for English class. More chapters shall be addded if I feel like it.