Phillip's grunts could be heard a few halls down from where he was training. Maurice was watching over him, nodding his approval. "Looks like Barry's battle has fired you up."
Phillip took a swig of water. "Honestly, it did. I knew I had to fight, but didn't expect to be in a fight like that. I don't want to leave any chance of me being killed."
Maurice laughed. "Well, that's one way of looking at it. The leader was like that as well. He hated pain and tried his best to avoid it. He's a master of dodging attacks."
"Even better than you?"
"Way better than me. The apprentice has overtaken the master in that regard, and it isn't even close."
Phillip took in a deep breath. Maurice has never been this open about the leader before. This might be a good time for me to get some info.
"What kind of man was the leader?"
"Then or now?"
"Both I guess."
"Then, he was like you. Scared, confused, but caring. He first told me that he would refuse to fight and would die instead, but he stumbled into a group one fight, and the fight apparently sparked a passion in him. He completely turned around from scared to confident. He practiced every second he could, promising me he would one day be strong enough to beat the leader and free us. He did keep one half of his promise."
"What's he like now?"
"Tyrranical. Cruel. Evil. Sadistic. The exact opposite of when I first met him. He doesn't care what it takes, he gets what he wants, and no one will stand in his way. I should have seen it coming…"
Phillip opened his mouth when Maurice raised his hand. "I've already said too much. Get your swings in. You're going to need the technique engrained in your mind as much as it can."
Maurice left the room, leaving Phillip alone swinging the sword, trying to maintain his form. His thoughts ran to Barry and the conversation they had after the fight.
Phillip walked into the medical room, watching an elderly man putting a bandage over Phillips index finger. Barry looked up and spotted Phillip. "I guess you saw the match then…"
"Yeah…I did. You did good. If it weren't for that trick, you would have kept up with him."
"Except he did use the trick and beat me. Can't change that…can't change anything about that…"
"Barry, for a first fight you did—"
"I don't want to hear it! You've never been in that situation before! You don't know what it's like, how it feels to be in that situation! You are in no right to tell me how good or bad I did."
"I-I'm sorry…I didn't mean to—"
Barry sighed. "I know…I'm sorry. It's just…after the fight…it seems my goal to fight my way out of here is gone. I'm progressing slower than the other people. I got my butt kicked in my first fight. I'm just scared…scared I won't be able to see my family again."
Phillip's mind flashed back to the present as he continued to swing the swords. A picture of his mother flashed in his mind. What if Barry is right? Is it really possible to fight your way out? To see my mom again? I know the leader did…but look at what happened. Will I become that way? If I were in the same situation, seen the same things he did, would I make the same choices?
Phillip swung the sword down, the velocity carrying him forward. His breathing intensified. "I can't think of that now. I can only go out and fight. I'll take the punches as they come toward me."
Kurt Murphy pulled up in front of a house and put the police cruiser in park. Shutting the engine off, he got out of the car, walked up towards the front door, and rang the doorbell. A few seconds later, a woman answered. "Hello?"
"I'm Officer Kurt Murphy. I'd like to ask you a few questions about your son Phillip."
Phillip's mom nodded and opened the door wider, allowing Kurt to enter. "I-I'm sorry for the mess in the house. I just haven't been up to cleaning ever since that night…"
Phillip's mom stifled a few sobs. Kurt looked at her with a sympathetic look. "Ma'am, I know this is hard, but whatever information you are able to give me will help my chances of finding Phillip. Did Phillip seem scared? Think that maybe someone was following him?"
"No. He was normal, acted normal. He walked the dog and when he came back, I asked him to get the mail. He didn't hesitate or anything."
"I see. What was his social life like? Was he popular? Isolated? A recluse?"
"He has a few friends, but isn't insanely popular. He likes to keep to himself when he can."
"Can you tell me about his friends? Where can I find them to talk with them?"
Phillip gave Kurt the addresses of Phillip's friends. "They also go to the high school a couple blocks away. You should be able to find them there if they're not home."
"Thanks ma'am. One last question, do you know these two people?"
Kurt took out a photograph of two people, one thirteen year old girl, and the other, a picture of Barry.
"N-no sir. This is the first time I've seen them. Why?"
"They've also been kidnapped around the same time as your son, and they're around the same age group as your son. I suspect that they may be related to the case, but I can't come with any solid connections yet. Thank you for your time Ms. Clueman."
Kurt stood up to leave and as he was walking away, he heard Phillip's mom say, "Promise me you'll find my son."
Kurt looked back at her. Kurt knew about making promises he couldn't keep, knowing there's no guarantee of anything, but looking at her lit a fire in him. "I'll find him Ms. Clueman. I'll find him and bring him home to you!"ns 188.8.131.52da2