World of Radiation

No Pain, No Gain

Continued from ‘Igniting Embers

My jaw hardens as the fire hurls in my direction, nothing but air in its path. As much as I don’t want to fight Alice, I can’t let myself be turned into cooked meat, which is the only thing filling my thoughts as I slide my hand across my brow. The motion pools the sweat from my body. Drawing it from my skin I direct it towards the fire, snuffing out the flame in another puff of smoke, this one larger than the last.

As it clears, Alice stands on the other side. Part of me expects to see disappointment on her face after she just tried to kill me, but instead triumph glistens. A smirk tugs on one corner her mouth. Her head tips forward slightly, causing her to stare at me through her long eyelashes.

“Alice, stop this.” It’s not a plea, but it’s not an order either. It’s simply a request from a friend who’s too tired and unwilling to play this game.

She doesn’t answer. Instead her feet shift, lightning fast, across the dirt, sending her to my right. My body turns. I keep my shoulders square with her, watching her at all times, because I know what’s coming next.

A snap of her fingers. A tiny ball of fire flashes in my direction. My fingers flex outward, flicking water out with them to meet the flame, but it’s not the only again. The clicking of her snaps signal more. Even as she moves, circling me, she continues tossing the fire towards me. I catch each one with an equally small splatter of water.

If we had been home this interaction might not have been a problem. After all, these small motions don’t use that much energy. However, the dark twinkle in her eyes alerts me to one key difference: she’s toying with me.

I’ve never truly seen what Alice is capable of, but a rock settles in my stomach as I come to the realization that I may be about to find out. Just as the thought clicks in my brain, she sweeps her foot across the ground. Dust flies up. With the wall building between us, I move, stepping backwards and sideways, constantly searching for her shadow on the other side. But it’s not her shadow that catches me off guard, it’s the red glow.

Parting the flimsy wall like it’s nothing, it blasts towards me just like before, but I don’t have time to react like before. Thankfully, it snatches me on the thigh. Had I been remained in my previous position, it would’ve caught me flush in the chest, burning through my shirt and multiple layers of skin. Instead, it singed through my pant leg and maybe two layers. Still, it stings. My teeth clench, a hissing noise following as I inhale sharply.

“Alice,” I grumble. The dust starts to clear. On the other side she stands, plain, unready, and taunting me with a smirk. She’s goading me to play with her. I don’t want to. I want this to end. It’s bad enough I left the city for this wasteland, but to have her attack me doesn’t make it much better.

“Fine.”

Her brows flicker up with excitement, the smirk turning into that of a gleeful child. It’s just as I thought: it’s a game to her.

The sadistic nature of her actions only churns my stomach more as I set my feet firmly beneath me again, ignoring the pain in my leg and arm. Having agreed to her ruse, I can’t afford to worry about such trivial things. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t hurt, but dying will probably hurt a lot more.

With that in mind I skim my fingers over my exposed skin. Thankfully for me, Alice’s heat causes me to sweat, giving me plenty of ammo against her. I advance. My hand flashes forward. It snaps down through the air, cutting vertically towards the ground. Water releases along the path. It slices through the air, plunging towards Alice.

Darkness returns to her face. She snaps her hand across her wrist in a slicing motion, the palm sweeping across her skin. Like my water it creates a vertical line of fire, but at the wrong angle. The mid-section of fire and water meet each other. The other parts slip past, fire towards me, water towards her.

Recovering as fast as I can, I throw the sweat from my cheek towards the line of fire, but not being able to meet the angle exactly I toss more water than is necessary. The fire vanishes, but so does much of my resources.

On the other side of the battlefield Alice screams. My heart, already panicked from the onslaught of fire, quickens, jerking my body forwards. Yet, my feet stop. We’re battling. She didn’t help me when I was injured. Now, I can’t help her. The reminder burns like physical pain, thickening when a gash reveals itself on her shoulder. Blood oozes from it. The liquid dyes her shirt a deep red, but she just grits against the pain, drawing her hands up for another attack.

I should’ve remembered how stubborn she is.

Next Installment: Blood Battling

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