Jab. Jab. Jab. Ow.
Now that we've 'perfected' jabbing, Antonio set Jeffrey and I on one another today. He jabbed; I blocked. I jabbed; he blocked. Jeffrey continues to improve at a greater pace than I, and his jabs more often managed to catch me in the face than mine caught his. (Though I did land a good one on his chin. Left a nice bruise. Take that.)
We did this for about an hour before Antonio, noting our overall lack of stamina (whaddya expect after three solid days of ruthless boxing lessons?), sent us off to jog 'round the Dauphine. I complained loudly about this, as I didn't want to get in the way of the Dauphine's workers, but Antonio insisted. He has a way of demanding your compliance without raising his voice that's rather disconcerting. The big dragon-killing fists probably help.
Soooo we jogged, side-by-side, for two hours. We jogged 'round Engineering; we circled the cabins of Subsistence a billion times; we weaved in and out of the Neo Beefiary, which is looking rather sloppy these days; we went up and down and up and down and up and down and up and down and up and down and up and down and up and down and up and down and up and down and up and down the stairs to Command, annoying the hell out of Libby as she tinkered with the Dauphine's controls. We stopped doing it after she gave me a fat lip.
We were panting too hard to talk, so Jeffrey and I spent the time drinking in the Dauphine's many sights. A lot more happens on this transport than I could've imagined:
- We found the rhino napping in its wheel - and beside it, curled up against its leg, was Fynn. D'aww.
- We discovered that Morris maintains a collection of 'Interesting Debris', his personal chronicle of our trip 'round the world. When we came across him he was cleaning a chunk of Rodentia's outer wall, picking away hard-packed grime with a knife.
- We came upon Grylock singing Goblinoster's regional anthem in a surprisingly fine voice - though as soon as he saw us tromping down the hall he turned all screechy. Little bastard.
- We discovered Jim, the only chocolate member of the crew left to us (damn, what happened?), reading one of Libby's technical journals. He was even writing notes in the margins. I didn't know the dude could read.
- As we jogged 'round Daena's tree we learned that she is dizzied easily, and she ordered us to go elsewhere. We also learned that Logan and Celine play chess in the tree's branches when they're bored.
- Multiple times when passing Traveller in the hallways we found him to be unusually withdrawn, almost contemplative. Even Plato's rat, which seemed to persistently linger in Traveller's hair along with kitty cat Laura, didn't seem enough to boost his mood.
- To my glee we managed to spot Libby slacking off in a back area of Engineering near the end of the jog, fast asleep while her workers toiled away elsewhere. I have never seen my wife slacking off.
A lot happens in two hours is what I'm getting at, and despite the repetition of our activity we found new things in old haunts constantly. It was interesting enough to maintain our vigour for the trek, and we only collapsed a few times. One of those times came riiiiight near the end - so near, indeed, that we figured it was the end.
Antonio had ordered us to jog 'round the Dauphine 100 times. We could take any route we wanted, so long as we made a full circuit of the beast. We were two trips short of our number when Jeffrey tripped on an errant wooden board, and I used his collapse as an excuse to hit the deck myself. Our sweat left damp silhouettes on the ground.
"I... I... I... can't..." Jeff groaned, each word a hoarse whisper. "Lost... all... my... water..."
I gurgled a response. I can't remember what I said. I'm sure it was inspiring and witty.
We'd lain prone for a solid ten minutes, no longer caring whether we would be kicked about for our failure by Antonio, when I heard a noise. A low thud, nothing more, but enough to get my attention.
I flopped my head up to peer down the corridor. We were somewhere in the rear of Engineering, away from the clanking cogs and swarthy engineers. "H... h... hell... hello...?"
Another faint thud. Something rustled in the distance, the gentle flap of liquid silk. I don't know what the hell 'liquid silk' is, but it's the best descriptor I've got.
Jeffrey rolled an eye towards me. "Hah... hah... what... what was...?"
Raising one shaky hand, I pointed. The corridor ahead was empty... save for what appeared to be a splotch on the deck. It was black, bubbly, and moving.
"The... the..." I struggled for saliva. Wihout saliva my jaws refuse to move. "Ack... the... fuck... is that...?"
The splotch wiggled, as if waving at me. Then, just as abruptly as it appeared, the splotch disappeared. Before Jeffrey could even turn his head to see it.
In my halting speech I tried to describe the splotch to Jeffrey, and we crawled our way over to the spot where I saw it. There was no sign of the stuff, however, and I had a difficult time convicing Jeffrey anything was there to begin with. We then promptly forgot all about the splotch as Libby found us, complained that we're sweating all over her precious deck, and reported us to Antonio.
Bad times followed.
I dunno. Maybe Jeffrey's right. The splotch could well have been a hallucination brought on by dehydration. Maybe it's just my paranoia flaring up, warning me to beware anything that could even remotely resemble the Non. Oily goo might be going a little far, but I guess you never know.
Still. We both heard a noise. And, sure, it could've come from a cabin overhead... a mechanic wiping his or her brow with a silken rag... but I somehow doubt it. Perhaps I should investigate.
But... not right now.
Sleep. I must sleep. I'm so damned tired. My muscles are on the verge of committing suicide. I do not condone suicide. It is a bad thing.
Dragomir the Wanderer