Rise - Chapter Three - Gabriel Arnold
Our Story So Far: The year is 2028. PKFR is the largest sport/activity in the world, surpassing even the old standards like soccer. Rusty, a 17-year-old boy living in “The City,” is a huge fan of PKFR but, after the untimely death of his father (a top Runner himself), he has been forbidden to train. Two days ago, however, a mysterious man known simply as Owen saved him from an early demise. Enamored by the man’s power and grace, and freshly out of school for the summer, Rusty has gone against his mother’s wishes and has agreed to meet with the elusive Owen…
 

 

“Parkour is not jumping across rooftops. It is not somersaulting off your front porch. It is not vaulting trashcans, balancing on handrails, or crawling on all fours. Parkour is not what you make of it. It is not an art form like painting. It’s not an expression of self. It’s not even a mindset.”

“Parkour is a discipline. It is real, and it is a purpose. It is the desire to escape, reach, help, or defend, put into physical practice. It is reason. To truly train as a ‘Tracer,’ one must become both selfless and unyielding. The will to carry forward, against all odds, is what starts you down the road of Parkour.”

“But having that yearning inside is not enough. Desire without focus, without direction, is wasted energy. You need direction.”

“…So what do I have to do then?” Rusty asked, staring up into the unyielding, ice blue eyes of Owen.

Owen’s eyes never flinched, but a slim, knowing grin stretched out from the corner of his mouth. “Right now? You need to condition like a motherf-”

Well, you get the idea.

Lasting only forty-five seconds, that was the extent of the conversation between Rusty and Owen. As soon as Owen had stopped speaking, a slim, flat-chested woman, barely past her mid-twenties, with dark, dark skin, came walking up from behind a nearby wall. She was nearly Rusty’s height and wore loose capris and a tank top, both of an immaculate white color, while her long, frizzy hair was lashed back into a tight ponytail. As she approached, she was lazily putting the finishing touches on a series of finger wraps. The woman and Owen exchanged a silent, understanding glance and then exchanged places, with Owen casually walking off and disappearing behind the same wall. This left the young redhead alone with the woman. Her ebony eyes were the direct opposite of Owen’s; hers were inviting, youthful, almost like a big sister.

“Hi, my name’s Kirra. I’m going to be working with you for today, Mr…?”

“Uh…Mr. Klein. But my first name’s Rusty, everyone calls me that.”

“All right then Rusty. Owen told me you’re very much a beginner so today, we’re gonna start easy. Okay?”

“Yeah, sure.”

“Great! Let’s take a jog around the place so we can warm-up and you can take in the sights. Follow me!”

Kirra hopped twice in the air then took off running, setting a pace that to Rusty’s young eyes looked more like a sprint than a jog. Sneakers scratching against the stone gravel, Rusty brought himself up to speed and stayed just behind Kirra, arms swinging and skinny legs pumping. Any other time he might have found it hard to breathe after only fifty yards of such a pace, but the beauty of his surroundings captured his attention so vividly that he could even ignore the pebble that had crept its way inside his shoe.

Sneaking out from his house had been the easy part for Rusty. He told his mother he was going to his best friend Lee’s house for an end of school year party and that he’d be home by dinner. Until now Rusty had obeyed his mother at nearly every turn, so it was easy to get her to agree. With luck, she’d never even know he was there.

“There” ended up being the problem though. The address Owen had given him was unfamiliar territory for Rusty. A nameless site several miles outside The City’s limits, nestled far away from the metropolis’s heart. In fact Rusty had had to trek through a densely overgrown forest, taking the last two miles of the trip on foot, following the sketchy directions of an Internet printout. The sun wasn’t even at high noon yet and already the air was sizzling, a dry heat that sucked the moisture right out of Rusty’s mouth. Arms rubbed raw from thorns and water bottle already half gone, Rusty had begun to lose hope and was seriously debating making a retreat. Upon reaching the location, however, Rusty was absolutely floored. It was enormous, easily 10-20 acres square, filled with endless possibilities. If one had to describe it in as few words as possible, you might say it was a mixture of a blown apart war bunker, a rolling pasture of craggy rock slopes, and an oak tree forest, all rolled into one.

Rough, triple thick concrete walls jutted up out of the dusty, red-brown dirt, with steel beams lying across them at varying angles and degrees. Metal railings lined the edges of the boxes, while steps, stairs, and over-hanging walkways wound their way to and fro amongst the wreckage. Lush green trees dotted the landscape, some barely taller than Rusty’s knees, while others towered overhead, many stories above the surface. And interspersed between the man made litter and nature’s natural shade were piles of granite, heaped up in great mounds of rock and soil. It was as if a company of giants swinging baseball bats had come through, destroying and reshaping the land as they saw fit. An almost perfect mix of natural and urban training spaces…truly, a Runner’s paradise.

As Rusty and Kirra picked their way through the landscape, Rusty managed to save up enough breath to ask the questions that had been pecking at his mind since he first arrived.

“K-Kirra. *huff* Where are we? Wha-what is this place?”

Kirra showed not even the slightest hint of being tired. She barely even had a film of sweat on her skin, despite the raging heat. She glanced back with a smile and said, “I don’t know. It doesn’t have a name, at least not anymore. Owen found it a long time ago, way before I met him. He likes to call it “Notre Endroit,” which is French for Our Place, I think.”

Now heading up the slippery side of a rather large boulder, Rusty continued his line of questioning, pausing frequently to catch his breath and to concentrate on taking the right step. “So…so you know Owen? Like, who he is?”

“Sort of, not much really. I met him about five years ago while I was visiting The City. See, I used to work for the Olympic PKFR team, as a fitness trainer. I was here for a business conference when I randomly saw this bald man training, doing things I never thought possible for any person, let alone a man in his forties. Work was getting dull, you know, with the usual Runners, and seeing him was…inspiration. The next week I relocated my job to The City and I’ve been meeting with Owen ever since.”

“You train with him-whoa! Almost lost it there! Umm, huff, what was I saying? Oh yeah, a lot then? You train a lot?”

The pair came to a flat, wide straight away and Kirra took the opportunity to slow down a bit, chuckling a little as Rusty still barely kept up, his shirt soaked through and through with sweat. Her demeanor seemed innocent enough, but Rusty could sense that, just below the surface, she was enjoying the trials she was putting Rusty through. Her own guilty pleasure.

“Once a week, maybe, usually in the Downtown area though. He comes here to train most times instead of The City. I only come out on rare occasions. He likes to be alone, says it helps him focus.”

“He, puff, doesn’t teach others, huff, a lot?”

Kirra turned to the right sharply and began looping back toward the start, blazing a line only she could see, head up, effortlessly bouncing in between ruts in the trail. Rusty stumbled along behind, eyes pinned to the ground in a desperate attempt to stay afloat.

“No, not many. I was surprised when he called me up and asked for help with you. Usually he’ll thrash potential new blood himself, but that leads to a lot of quitters. I guess he has high hopes for you or something.”

This final exchange stopped Rusty’s tongue for the reminder of the run. When the duo arrived back at the start, Kirra instantly launched them into a series of dynamic exercises, everything from ballistic stretches to situps to jumping in place. A test of ability, as Kirra described it. Sweat poured from Rusty’s thin frame and stained the red-brown dirt, his bright red hair a wet mat on top of his head. He ditched his shirt half way through and dust now caked his torso. His hands were cracked and bleeding and his shorts had a tear on the inside leg from when he slipped and fell during a lunge. He looked like he’d been through a war. An hour and one hundred twenty pushups later, Kirra was resting comfortably on a rock, sunning herself like a lizard, while Rusty panted in the shade of an oak, like a dog.

Practically pristine except for her dusty shoes, Kirra’s ever-present smile grew a little wider at the sight of Rusty. He had a lot of hard work ahead of him, she thought, this won’t come naturally to him. But she could see the potential Owen saw, that shine in his eyes, the way he never doubted or really complained. It was an odd combination of curiosity and determination in such a young man.

“Kirra?” Rusty called out to the woman, flat on his back, arms splayed out to the sides.

“Yeah Rusty?”

“When do we start working on the technical stuff? You know, vaulting and climbing and all that.”

“Oh, not for a long time. You’re body’s not nearly strong enough yet. And not until Owen says you’re ready.”

“Right. Umm, what about a time frame or something then?”

“Hmmm. Well, maybe a month with dedicated work. If Owen’s in a good mood that is.”

“Got it. Where is he anyway? I thought I was going to be training with him.”

“He’s right over there. He’s been watching you during his own training. That’s how he likes it. To watch, then get involved.”

“He’s where?”

“Up over there.”

Rusty pushed his upper body up off the ground and propped himself up with his elbows, scanning in the direction Kirra had mentioned. It took a long moment before Rusty caught a glimpse of him. Then, he was impossible to miss. A hundred yards away, scaling the slopped side of a blasted bunker. A wall of a man, seemingly more beast than human, was nimbly making his way up the steep face, practically dancing from one hand hold to the next, his body never ceasing in its upward motion. When he reached the top he popped up over the lip and continued to run, bounding over low walls and swinging around upright poles to avoid exposed patches of steel rebar. The magic of the scene cast a spell on Rusty. Something with so much unrelenting power and speed…it just wasn’t possible.

“What’s that he’s wearing on his back?” Rusty asked.

“A weight vest. He often trains with one. Today he’s going light like us. I think he attached only forty pounds.”

“Forty!”

“Yup. Like I said, he’s walking, talking, pure inspiration.”

“Yeah…”

“So Rusty. Today’s Wednesday right? Wanna meet Saturday, Downtown, by the Park? Same time? We can pick up your conditioning where we left off.”

“We’re not coming back here?”

“No, no. You’ll come back here when Owen’s ready to test you. In the meantime, you’re going to be hitting the streets and the gyms with me. Cool?”

“Yeah…cool.”

“Excellent!”

Chapter 4, coming next month!
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Written by Paul Mederos   
Friday, 05 June 2009 07:17
Last Updated on Monday, 13 December 2010 21:43