The following is an excerpt from The Syndi-Jean Journal: Year 3.
Keiko and I did more than simple sparring today. I should also note I’m writing this from the Infirmary where Ms. Phillips insisted on keeping Keiko and me for the night. More precisely, it was Keiko who needed to spend the night for observation and I was encouraged to do the same, if anything, to keep her company. It wasn’t that our fights were brutal, but we did whack each other pretty hard. After all, we were wearing the kendo gear for all three fights, or portions of the armour for the last two fights. It was as close to no holds barred as we could get, but we really needed to determine if what we guessed would happen was really happening… and we got some interesting results.
For the record, I wasn’t reading her mind and she wasn’t broadcasting any thoughts. Jenny confirmed that during the various fights, both of us were not even thinking, at least not in the conventional sense. Between the fights however was a different case as we were apparently assessing ourselves and each other. Jenny said she picked a lot of concern from me, especially after each sparring session.
We covered kendo first followed by hand-to-hand and ended with weapons sparring. Jenny was particularly impressed by the way our minds would clear when we take the ready positions at the start of each round. She likened it to an old CRT television being turned off when all the sound, all the noise would switch off and there was a singular focus to the moment at hand. That was soon followed by an awareness encompassing everything. That’s all she could verbally describe. She said it was an amazing transition, unlike anything she had ever encountered. I suppose is something unique to trained fighters. I wouldn’t particularly call myself that, but I know the mind-set we get into when we fight, and she got to glimpse that in Keiko and me at the same time.
Just to be clear, we checked in at the Infirmary after the fights because despite the protective gear, we were pretty tough on each other. I may have been a little rougher during the last fight and bruised Keiko in the ribs, striking her a little past the bogu, again! Ms. Phillips did a preliminary check on her first and once she felt Keiko was fine, she did a check on me while Keiko took a quick shower in the Infirmary’s bathroom. When it was my turn to use the shower, Ms. Phillips did a more thorough check on Keiko and confirmed the bruising I gave her. After Ms. Phillips finished with her examinations, Will brought in some dinner for all of us to share. We then got to analysing our little experiment as Jenny shared her observations.
During the kendo sparring, Keiko’s focus was more on me and simply watching my movements. She was more attuned to the little nuances in my movements with particular attention to the tip of my shinai, while being focussed on me overall. It kinda helped to understand how she was reading an opponent’s movements in kendo. Apparently, there was more to it that even Jenny couldn’t fully articulate, but between Keiko and me, we understood what she was getting at. On my end, she said I was equally focussed in almost the same way Keiko was, but not as attuned. My concentration not only focussed on my opponent, but all around as well. It was like I was aware of being observed but not quite to the same point of being distracted by my surroundings.
During the hand-to-hand fight, Jenny said our awareness and focus were almost aligned. In a way, it seemed both of us were equally attuned to each other’s movements, reading each other’s moves, foreseeing what was likely to come next and adapting to changes as it happened. It would account for my being able to hold my own against Keiko these days. Keiko maintained that I am still a defensive fighter, but admitted I have improved in taking the offensive position. We traded quite a few blows, but she still landed far more punches than I did. For this fight, we had removed the men and bogu portions of the kendo armour but kept the koté.
When it came around to the weapons sparring, things changed. She was using her bokkun, something she’s exceptionally skilled with, while I settled for a control baton, the one with the cross handle, in my right hand, and a kukri replica in my left. Keiko also put on her full armour while I took off the koté so as to have a better grip on my weapons. According to Jenny, this was where things went a little weird. While Keiko basically had the same mentality and focus during all three sparring sessions, mine changed through all three sessions. While I appeared to have some focus during the first two sessions, Jenny said that I blanked out completely during the weapons sparring. Simply put, it was a situation where Keiko could not read any of my movements, and I was apparently a mindless fighting machine from Jenny’s perspective. I was more on the offensive and despite her own skill with her bokkun, I apparently pounded her pretty badly in retaliation for the first two rounds.
Of course, I wasn’t a complete mindless fighting machine, I just seemed that way. Jenny said my mind was all over the place and nowhere at the same time. She found it really difficult to describe what she saw or felt. Even at Keiko’s urging, the most she could come up with was that I was running on pure instinct while sensing everything around me. She didn’t pick up any signs of my TP abilities kicking in at all.
Jenny confirmed I wasn’t reading Keiko’s mind during the sparring and Keiko wasn’t broadcasting any movements in advance. I always thought that she, like those old samurai warriors, would consider a fight in her head before making a move, picturing the battle being won before even the first strike is made, but Jenny didn’t pick up on that. So, consequently, if I were to face off against John again, he can at least be assured I wouldn’t be using my psychic abilities to win the fight.
In the end, Jenny found the experience quite illuminating. She had never willingly scanned two minds the way she did with us – even with our permission – just to see how we think, act, react and focus during our sparring. It wasn’t going to make her take up any kind of fighting skill though. The issue about my mentality during the final round was the only mysterious quantity with no real answer to why I was like that for that one fight and not the others. Keiko, for one, is very curious to find out if I could actually apply that mentality to either kendo or our hand-to-hand sessions. “Mushin,” she muttered, without explanation. We talked things out at length after Jenny left and she thinks that I may be a far superior fighter than she is, but only in a given situation.
I hoped she wasn’t going to manufacture that particular situation simply to test me.
I’m pretty tired right now. I guess the fight took quite a bit out of me, so I’m gonna knock off for now. Still pretty early though. It’s barely midnight.
Before I get on with today’s planned trip to my dream-world, I want to write about this. When I signed off last time, it was just about midnight on Thursday, and feeling pretty worn out. I had powered down my console unit when Walker dropped by. I hadn’t gone to the pool and I didn’t tell him about the experiment Keiko and I planned on, but he heard from Jenny that I was in the Infirmary. Apparently she dropped by the pool to inform him and I was appreciative of it; I told her so when I got out of the Infirmary yesterday.
Anyway, Walker dropped by the Infirmary that night to check on me and to find out what happened. I did my best to explain what Keiko, Jenny and I were up to and why. It wasn’t quite what I had written in the journal, missing out on a ton of details, but he understood. He rephrased it as a social experiment dealing with perception within the intricacies of a duel, adding that there was no real benefit to derive from such an experiment except to the fighters. I could only smile in response because it was just like him to find the experiment and learning experience in every situation, trying to analyse my actions.
Tired as I was, I didn’t chase him away, but we kept talking. When I tried to stifle a yawn, he started to excuse himself to let me sleep, but I asked him to stay. More precisely, I asked him to lie with me and keep me company for a while longer. I shuffled over a little to give him some space on the single bed and he let me cuddle up to him. I slowly laid my head on his chest and he put his arm around me. I admitted I hadn’t really had a solid night’s sleep in a while.
I haven’t been writing about it, but up to that point, my sleeping times have been pretty irregular. The most I managed in the few days since my uneventful dream-walk was no more than an hour to maybe ninety minutes, tops. It didn’t matter when I was trying to get to sleep or when I actually did fall asleep. Even after Ms. Phillips ran her tests on me, there was no real indication anything was wrong.
Walker didn’t say anything in response to my comment, but instead he started stroking my back. I closed my eyes and listened to the slow and strange rhythm of his heartbeat – if it was his heart that I was hearing. For as much as his physiology may seem similar to ours, I had no idea if he was anywhere as biologically similar. All I know is there was this steady slow rhythm pounding away in his chest that didn’t sound like a normal thump-thump heartbeat rhythm. That, added with the gentle stroking he did, somehow made me fall asleep. I don’t know how long it took, but I may have been really tired from the day’s activities.
Solid deep sleep for close to maybe seven hours.
When I woke up, he was gone. I still don’t know when he had left during the night. He only asked how I was feeling when we happened to cross paths on the way to class. I was feeling more refreshed than normal and I said so adding, “Thank you for keeping me company last night.” He smiled in return and then said that he would see me later for dinner – it was Friday after all. We were off to our respective classes then when he turned and asked if we should call off dinner for the night. When I asked him why, he reminded me Saturday was Valentine’s Day. I was aware of it, and we did plan on spending some time in the dream-world, away from prying eyes.
“Nothing wrong with dinner tonight and again tomorrow night,” I said. He took a moment to consider and then agreed that we would stick to our normal plan for dinner.
The rest of the day went as normal. There was not even a peep from either Carol or Helen about Walker and me in the Infirmary together. Keiko didn’t say anything, which made me wonder what time she woke up, and if she did see Walker. I filled Becca in over lunch, but spoke to her in her own language, totally forgetting that Kadi was there. She had questions for Becca about Walker and me, but at least she didn’t ask the others or even tried to practise her English that way. I’ll have to be a little more careful next time. Kadi’s a new factor to consider.
When dinner rolled around, Walker had a topic of discussion all ready. I suppose I should have seen it coming given it was the first Friday thirteenth we were sharing. I’m not one for superstitions, but I did my best to answer his questions about the day and why people deemed it such an unlucky day. I admitted not knowing the origins or reasons for the day and the number. My offer to look it up for him seemed redundant as he had done his own research. I managed to tell him what little I know about how the Chinese people don’t like numbers involving number four. It was common enough around Penang, so I had some passing knowledge on that at least.
For no particular reason, I filled him in on my session with Corogi on Thursday morning. It was a little problematic to lock down her learning process, and I had to schedule another session with her on Monday. Her thought patterns were also extremely guarded, which was unusual because it would indicate some mental abilities in her, but no one has actually said anything in that respect. I asked him if he heard anything about Corogi being potentially psychic, and he suggested I ask her directly. He didn’t seem too eager to go in that area. It was just talk.
I’m about to run late for my dream-trip. I’m dropping in to see Mikey as usual, and Walker is coming along again. I’m also supposed to take Sophie and Will along, but I’ve got another plan for that at the moment. People have found their own way to my dream-world before, so maybe it’s time I helped Sophie do that instead of me taking her each time.
The dream-world, or the dream-land, the dreamscape, or whatever you want to call it; how and why it exists is beyond my knowledge. I didn’t create it, but I moulded it to my needs. It’s there, and there is a purpose for its existence, at least for me. People have found their own way there before. Ethan did it on his own last year, maybe Sophie could do it too.
Ms. Phillips wasn’t too pleased with our antics but agreed to let us be as long as we used the beds and monitoring devices. We ended up using three beds while I took the chair, so she was only left with two spare beds. I can go in to the dream-world and basically get out again at any time – although it’s not usually a good thing. What I had Sophie do was to monitor me as I went in once and came out again on my own. This allowed her to ‘feel out’ my process, so to speak. I arrived outside the Kitchen as usual and then ‘woke up’ almost immediately.
Then, I monitored her as she took Will in. To make things a little easier, they both got into separate beds first and I had them hold hands. He closed his eyes first as if he was going to sleep and then she would dive into the dream-world, taking him along. Essentially, she would only be guiding his thoughts towards the dream-world. She knew to picture the Kitchen as her target point and I would meet her there. That’s a conscious act, as much as it can be defined and why, in my case, I’m not usually considered to be asleep during my trips. When I was sure she was off, I took Walker in with me. It’s not to say it would have worked because for all I know, she could have landed in her own dream-world, one of her own making.
Thankfully – really – she was at the Kitchen when I got there with Walker. Will, being the newcomer, was naturally amazed at the situation noting that everything had a specific texture, from the feel of the clothes to the wood grain of the furniture and even the smells of the tavern itself despite the knowledge that it’s just a dream-world that he got taken into. While he talked things out with Walker, sharing notes and all that, I did a little checking of my own with Sophie. Once I was sure she was okay having made the trip on her own, and giving her a means of contacting me in case of any problems, I checked in with Kinstein.
The Syndi-Jean Journal is published by Partridge Publishing, and will be available from online retailers such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and more listed here.