The Runners: Chapter 37

Chapter 37

Jacob remained in the swamp water for another couple of minutes until he was certain that he heard no one else around.  His beach attire was completely covered with gooey mud and dark green sludge was dripping down on his face and arms.  He attempted to clear his eyes of any debris with the palms of his hands, only to leave streaks of the gooey gel across his face.  After several attempts, he had cleared enough that he was able to see somewhat legibly.  Repeatedly, he blinked and wiped his eyes as the green slime continued sliding down on his cheeks.

Out of the swamp, Jacob picked some of the low laying grass and gathered some dry leaves.  Putting them together, he made a pad of several layers of leaves and used it to wipe his face dry as best as he could.  His shirt was in shambles.  As it dried up, he felt it contracting against his body.  Feeling discomfort, he removed his shirt then twisting one end of it, he placed it into his back pocket letting the rest of the shirt to hang down.  Once Jacob found proper footing, he moved swiftly away from the swamp.

Jacob’s mind was racing with the thought of Jane being involved in something illegal and even worse, dangerous.  Based on the scars that he had seen on the old man’s arm, he knew that at minimally, the old man had the Special Forces military training.  He was also certain that this man did not stand on the right side of the law.  Jacob wanted to go find Jane and ask what she was doing in the forest with this shaky character.  He ran clearing the thick plantation in front of him.  He swung his right arm then left as he ran thru the vegetation leading to the passage way out back to the main path.  As he pushed the plants and ran past them, the branches ricocheted back into him, causing several cuts and bruises on his arms and his upper body.

Jacob took the exact same path that he had taken earlier.  For some unexplainable reason, he thought it was taking much longer than the first pass that he had made in the opposite direction.  Few minutes into running, Jacob finally made the turn left into the main path towards the beach.  Jumping over pits and overgrown tree roots that were dispersed in chaotic fashion, he navigated his way out of the forest as fast as he could.

At last, Jacob was within 60 yards of the mouth of the forest when the illuminated opening at the end of the long passage came into his view.  Then, as he reached within 30 yards of the mouth of the forest, he was tripped hard and flew five yards forward and landed on his right arm.  He took the fall hard and rolled over several times.  However, he was able to steady himself on his left knee with his right foot planted to the ground.

Standing up slowly and turning his head back to see what obstacle he had tripped over, he was immediately struck with an object that sent reverberating shock waves of pain from his back.

‘PUCK’ a wooden staff, perhaps a baseball bat, pummeled Jacob squarely on his backside.  The force of the impact sent him back to the ground face down.  Fortunately, he was able to break the fall with his hands, avoiding serious injury.  Unconsciously, he thought that the years of military training has kept him intact for the second time in the last five minutes.  The pain pounded on his back and instinctively, he rolled to his right.

‘SHOO’ ‘TOCK’ Jacob heard sounds of a heavy object cutting thru the air in its flight followed by something whizzing past just outside of his left ear.  He looked back and quickly positioned his right foot half stretched out to his back side while both his hands and left knee were on the ground.  A man about 6.7 ft on hyper-steroids was retrieving a 6 ft staff shaped in a baseball bat with thickness of nearly half a ft in diameter.  The man held it in one hand and was twirling it on his side as if it weighed nothing.

“Lucky fall,” the man grinned, giving a piercing look into Jacob’s eyes.  Then, he charged at Jacob like a bull running towards a matador.  He raised the staff over his head with both hands and slammed it down in Jacob’s direction.  Jacob, being agile, rolled to his right and assumed the same position as the staff pounded the ground hard.

“YEAH!”  The attacker moved one step closer and after lowering his stance at the same time, he swung from top to bottom again.  Jacob jumped swiftly off the ground to his right and landed flat on his abdomen, cushioned by his hands.  The attacker, again, swung the staff directly down on the back of Jacob to which Jacob dodged by jumping 3 feet over to his right using his hands and toes as if he had a set of recoiled springs under them.  Before the next attack came, Jacob, in a series of moves, landed on his back, brought his knees and feet straight up to his forehead then he flipped up onto his feet.  Now, with his back facing the attacker, Jacob stood just a few feet away from the assailant.

“You, son of a bit—,” frustrated that he kept missing his target, the attacker swore at Jacob as he wildly swung the staff left to right and right to left.  Jacob bent his back forward on the first swing and dodged from the path of the bat.  Then, as the second swing came back at him, Jacob jumped backwards as he performed a single somersault over the height of the attacker’s staff.  The staff passed an inch below Jacob’s head as his feet soared into the air.  Then, before the assailant could regain composure and wield the third swing, the bottom of Jacob’s right talus bone struck the attacker’s nose, causing the man to lose his grip on the weapon.

The assailant took several steps backwards with both his hands protecting his nose and obviously in serious pain.

“URGH!”  “AHH!”  “S—!”  Groaning, cursing, and panting, the attacker charged at Jacob with his arms stretched out as Jacob landed on his feet.  Jacob was in the process of rebalancing himself and was turned halfway when the attacker grabbed him from the back.  He gripped Jacob tightly under his arms and began to squeeze tightly while applying enormous amount of pressure.  A moment later, the assailant lifted Jacob off the ground in a rage as he went for a reverse full nelson slam.  Jacob put his right leg between the attacker’s legs while trying to loosen the assailant’s grips.  Since Jacob was successful in preventing himself from being lifted up off the ground, the attacker had no recourse, but to set Jacob back down onto his feet.

Not losing this opportunity, Jacob pushed his attacker backwards while putting his right leg crossed behind the attacker’s left leg.  Then, as he rapidly turned his entire body to his right in circular motion, Jacob opened his arms wide and swung towards the head of the assailant.  This evasive, yet powerful offensive maneuver threw Jacob’s attacker to his left side, which sent him rolling on to the ground.  Following this maneuver, Jacob quickly jumped around the attacker then positioned his right arm around the attacker’s neck.

Confused as to what had hit him, the attacker used his big hands to try to get freed by pushing Jacob’s arm off from his neck.  To counter, Jacob leveraged his body by lying on his abdomen in diagonal orientation to the assailant with his arm wrapped around the neck of the assailant.  All the while, Jacob exerted downward pressure while staying as low to the ground as possible.  Jacob could feel the attacker’s grip on his arm weakening.  Eventually, both of the assailant’s arms fell to the ground.  Slowly, Jacob released the choke hold anticipating that the attacker would be unconscious for a while.

“Whew!  Whew!”  Lying on his back next to the motionless assailant, Jacob tried to catch his breath.  He looked up and saw small rays of sun penetrating into the forest thru the dense tree tops.  Jacob blinked his eyes several times to adjust his blurred vision.  As his breathing came back to near normal rate, so did his vision.  He got back up onto his feet and gave another look at the attacker who was now panting and moving his head.  To Jacob’s surprise, the assailant was coming around.  In an abrupt motion, the assailant sat upright and attempted to get back onto his feet.

Jacob turned his back on the attacker as he looked into the direction of the forest entrance.  Bending his leg, Jacob brought his left knee to above his waist.  Then, by leveraging his right foot and upper body, he catapulted off the ground as he swung his right leg high around his left into a downward motion.  With his right leg fully extended on its way down, his right heel made a solid contact with the top of the assailant’s head.  The force of the impact sent the assailant back down to the ground with a loud ‘PLUCK’ sound.  This time, there were no more movements by the assailant.  Without even looking back on the incapacitated assailant, Jacob jogged slowly towards the exit of the forest.

As Jacob reached near the mouth of the forest, a second man appeared who possessed the exact same physical appearance as the one that he had just defeated.  In disbelief, Jacob turned back and looked in the direction of the downed assailant.  Back twenty yards, Jacob found that the assailant was still laying flat on the ground.

“Umm…, clones…?”  Jacob murmured to himself turning back to face the new threat.

“That was my little twin brother, you,” obviously distraught, but with a thick tone of voice over what had happened to his brother, he continued, “will pay with the same fate you piece of s—!”  Then, he opened his shoulders wide and stood firmly between Jacob and the mouth of the forest.  His imposing size covered the entire mouth of the forest as far as Jacob could see.  The assailant wanted to not only intimidate Jacob, but crush every bone in him very badly as a revenge for his fallen twin.

“Of course, twins,” looking intensely back into the brother’s eyes, Jacob continued, “I will give you a chance to walk away.  Just tell me who hired you?  Is it that old man?”

“Walk away?  You mock me…,” came back the reply from the brother, “you won’t be so lucky this time!”  He believed that luck was on Jacob’s side in defeating his brother.  The twin was already underestimating Jacob’s ability to deliver a knockout punch.  After all, he had almost 7 inches in height advantage and was built like a bison.  The older twin feared no one, especially not Jacob who stood much smaller.

“Who hired you?” Jacob repeated, this time with authority as he slowly gripped his hands into fists at his sides.

“Be prepared to die!” With explosive force, the twin immediately began charging towards Jacob.  His heavy footsteps, as he approached, shook the earth even causing the fallen dry branches and leaves nearby to shudder in its place.  Jacob needed to get information as to who had hired the twins to kill him, so he could go after the source to find out why.  Therefore, he wanted to subdue this one so that he could interrogate.  However, that would be a harder task than simply knocking him out, he thought.

As the twin approached, Jacob took off running towards him as well.  The twin swung wildly with his right fist followed by left.  Jacob ducked and swayed left and right to dodge every punch that was thrown at him.

“SHKKK,”  “SHKKK.”  Breathing hard, the twin grew frustrated.  He was the stronger one. But, Jacob was smarter and much nimbler.  He took several steps towards Jacob as he swung his fists at Jacob’s head.   Ducking low again, Jacob delivered one, two, three fast punches to the twin’s abdomen.  With steroids running deep in his veins, the first two punches did not have any impact on the twin.  Those two punches were like throwing eggs against a massive granite rock.  However, the third punch had landed squarely right on the twin’s solar plexus, which made him lose the pace of his breathing.

“OOP!”  The twin gasped and retreated two paces back in attempt to catch his breath.  But soon, he became aggressive again.  He lunged forward towards Jacob as he reached out to grab him.  Jacob dropped underneath the twin then quickly rolled past by him.  The twin landed where Jacob was initially standing, empty handed.  In his attempt to break the fall, the twin reached the ground with his hands open as he landed on sharp dry branches that were drilled into his palms.  Blood gushed out as the sharp ends of the branches penetrated the assailant’s open hands.

“S—!” exclaimed the twin.  Getting back up on his feet, he pulled the branch sized thorns out slowly and screamed not from the pain, but from the exploding frustration.

At the same time, Jacob put his hands up by his chin ready to defend and deliver offensive strikes against the twin.  Before the twin could concoct his next move, Jacob moved in closer to the twin first, this time.  Jacob kicked the left knee of the twin, followed by two punches to the twin’s chin.

“HUH!”  The first punch brought out short exhaling sound and a pause in the twin’s motions as did the second punch.  Jacob moved two steps back and looked up at the twin.  The twin, gritting his teeth, was shaking his head intensely and stared down at Jacob.  Jacob’s punch did not seem to deliver much damage.  Immediately, Jacob followed with stepping in roundhouse kick that had landed squarely on the left cheek of the twin.  The twin’s head twirled to the right then snapped right back into its original position.  Jacob then delivered two more punches to his opponent’s solar plexus.  Those two punches pushed the twin back, causing him to bend forward at the same time.  Immediately, Jacob followed by delivering a right hook into the twin’s chin.  The twin moved back several steps, but somehow, he had managed to remain standing on his feet once again.

Puffing and shooing wildly with anger, the twin pulled out a 12” blade hunting knife from his belt holster.  The knife had a 6” base and a half moon shaped blockage where the blade and the base.  The end of the blade was extremely pointy and there were two levels on the top side.  The half of the base had teeth that resembled larger version of saw teeth while the line that concaved in towards the pointy end had fine teeth which were much smaller.  The bottom of the blade was almost in a straight line, except near the tip, where it was minimally rounded towards the extremely sharp end.  It had eleven circular holes along the top half of the entire length of the blade.  The blade was an intimidating looking weapon even to Jacob.

The twin placed the pointy edge to his own right cheek then made a long incision while cursing out as if he was a mad man.  “You F—!  This is your funeral!”  Then, he licked his own blood off the blade along the side of the blade, causing blood to drip out from his mouth to chin.  With his eyes turning red, the twin looked malevolent as he pointed the knife at Jacob while assuming an attack position.  Slowly swaying the lethal weapon left and right with slight bend in his knees, he moved closer to Jacob.

Jacob lowered his posture and jumped backwards with his stomach tucked in as the twin stretched his arm out forward, swinging the knife in all directions in his attempt to slice Jacob.  Jacob was pushed back to the side off of the main trail until he couldn’t move further.  Jacob’s back pinned against a large tree trunk, he readied for the twin’s next series of attacks.

Still enraged, but seeing an opportunity to get to Jacob, the twin screamed, “YEAH!” as he launched at Jacob with the pointy end of the knife against Jacob whose back was pinned against the tree.  Jacob took half a step to his left.  Creating sufficient momentum in the process, Jacob pushed off his right foot as he jumped to his left.  Simultaneously, twisting his upper body toward the right, he put the left shoulder out away from the tree trunk.  With his hands raised high and his abdomen tucked in, Jacob managed to escape a deathly strike by the twin.

“URGHH” Jacob groaned as the knife penetrated his left side.  As he continued to turn his body, the knife exited out from his front taking along with it a large chunk of abdominal carcass.  With the twin’s forward momentum, he headed directly into the tree then struck the trunk with the sharp end of the knife.  Seeing that he was successful in stabbing Jacob, the twin gave a satisfactory grin.  Immediately, the twin proceeded to pull the knife out of the trunk while his hand never lost the grip of the base of the knife.

Meanwhile, Jacob covered the fresh wound with his left hand while taking several steps backwards.  He didn’t feel immediate pain as high level of adrenaline had numbed his senses.  But, as seconds went by and he pressed onto his wound, the pain began to travel up thru his nerves which shook his senses.  He looked down and saw the wide cut where blood was gushing out from.  At the same time, his special forces training told him that the blade did not damage any internal organs.  So, he focused on slowing down the bleeding.

Jacob saw the twin struggling to pull out the knife from the tree.  Taking this as an opportunity, Jacob bent down to grab some loose leaves, grass, and mixed them with large chunk of soil from the ground in a hurry.  Then, he proceeded to patch his wound with the compound.  Jacob forced the makeshift medicinal dough to fill the area of the cut.  “Umm…,” silently, he moaned with pain.

Feeling the bleeding has slowed, Jacob looked up as he straightened his body.  Then, he launched, charging towards the twin.  At the same time, the twin had pulled the knife out of the tree trunk and was turning to face his foe when Jacob delivered a front kick to his right hand that was holding the knife.  Temporarily, pushing the twin’s right arm upwards with the initial kick, Jacob followed with a left reverse spinning kick that squarely landed a strong blow to the twin’s solar plexus.   This time, the twin backtracked several steps.  Without giving the twin a second, Jacob followed with a stepping in side kick on the assailant’s chest, which sent the twin on his back sliding down a small hill.

“Jacob…”  Then, out of nowhere, Jacob thought he heard someone call his name, which made him pause and listen.


“Jacob!  Where are you?”  As soon as Jane entered the entrance of the forest, she called for Jacob as she ran towards the swamp.  Forty yards into the path, she found the first assailant lying unconscious on his back.  After quick examination of the body, Jane ran into the bushes, off trail, towards the swamp.

“Jacob!  Jacob!”  Jane kept calling out for her friend.  Upon arriving at the swamp, she went to the location where she thought she saw someone at the outer edge of the swamp.  Then, she carefully entered the muddy waters.  Slowly walking into the murky swamp, she looked for any signs of person who might have been there, a torn cloth, dropped sunglasses, or anything that was not natural to the environment.  She looked around turning over leaves and loose branches, but didn’t find anything unusual.

Upon exiting the swamp water, Jane did her best to remove the gunk and gooey materials off of her, which upon falling on to the ground, created a thick puddle of mud.  “Jacob!”  She called out as she proceeded to get back to the trail.  As soon as she had taken several steps, she discovered similar puddles of mud that she had just created a few yards back.  She reached down to get a closer look.  Upon feeling it with her hand, Jane discovered that it was still moist.

“Oh, Jacob, Where are you?”  She asked herself now firmly believing that Jacob or at least someone else was there earlier.  She got up and ran back to the main passage way with urgency.  As she cleared the branches, she saw traces of blood, which were left behind by Jacob as he ran back after Johansen.  Jane did not know what to think of the blood marks.  She was only hoping that Jacob was all right as she continued her way out of the swamp.


“JACOB…., JACob…., Jacob…., Jac…”  Jacob heard his name being called loud and then slowly becoming illegible, causing him to perk up his ears to locate as to where his name was being called out from.  Unfortunately, this interruption prevented him from delivering follow thru offensive maneuvers against the assailant which could have subdued the second twin for good.

As his head was turned back towards the path to hone in on the sound of someone calling his name, the twin got back onto his feet then proceeded to charge back at Jacob.  Jacob sensed the twin approaching from the steady tweaking sounds in the twin’s footings.  As the twin was charging, he was stepping over the dry leaves and twigs that were on the ground alerting his approach to Jacob.  Jacob turned around and saw the twin coming up the hill and charging towards him, wildly wielding the knife once again.  He swung left then right and cross.  Jacob moved swiftly avoiding the edges of the knife.  Although, Jacob got nipped on his left upper arm, he wasn’t fazed by it at all.

Jacob took out the wet shirt that was in his back pocket and held one end of it.  Then, he used the other hand to twist the shirt into a tight rope shape.  The twin raised his hand over his head and moved to strike Jacob in a down motion.  In a blink of an eye, Jacob took a couple of steps towards the twin, underneath the path of the knife.  Then instantly, Jacob turned his back against the assailant, wrapping the t-shirt tightly around the twin’s wrist.  Pulling and twisting, Jacob yanked down the twin’s arm over his shoulder ultimately dislocated the twin’s elbow.

“AHH!” Short, but loud scream ensued as the twin swore, “S—!”  Then, Jacob gave a reverse kick to the twin’s solar plexus while still holding the twin’s arm wrapped around with his shirt.

 “URGH,” as the wind was knocked out of him, the twin let out a painful groan.  Quickly, Jacob pulled the twin lower towards the ground by the arm.  As he bent down, Jacob released the grip on the twin’s wrist, but grabbed the back of the twin’s head.  Then, he pulled the twin’s head downward hard as he delivered a knee kick.  Jacob followed with a strong right punch to the side of the twin’s head.  There was such a great force in Jacob’s punch that it caused the twin’s neck to stretch out as his head turned right.  Unconscious and helpless, the twin fell down the hill with his arms at his sides.

Jane heard the twin’s scream as she went past the first unconscious assailant in the trail.  She paused to locate the direction of the sound and headed quickly into the bushes where Jacob and the twin were dueling.

“Jacob!” She saw Jacob in the distance and called him.  At the same time, Jacob delivered the last blow to the twin.  Jacob was on his right foot supported by the opposite knee on the ground.

“A-HUH, A-HUH,” he gasped for air as he was pressing down on his wound with his left hand.  Jane saw the big man disappear down the hill as Jacob was kneeling down. 

“Jacob, what happened?”  She rushed to Jacob.  Then she pressed down on top of Jacob’s left hand as soon as she could reach him.

“What happened?”  Jane asked again looking at the wound that Jacob was nursing.

“Just a cut…, not too serious…”  He trailed off as he responded.

“It looks bad.  Don’t move,” Jane advised and grabbed a hold of Jacob’s shirt.  She moved to tear it off into a piece, which was slightly bigger than the size of the wound.  Then, she collected and placed more patches of grass and soil onto the wound before placing the cloth over the wound.  She removed her own shirt and wrapped it tightly around Jacob’s waist then tying it to hold down the cloth against the wound.

“There it should hold it for now!”  Out of breath, Jane assured.

“It’s already better,” said Jacob, “with some stitches, I will be as good as new!”  Jacob said letting Jane know that the wound wasn’t serious at all.

“Can you stand up?”  Jane said holding on to his arm to give him a leverage to stand.

“Yeah, I think so…Ah!”  Jacob got up slowly, but tried not to lean too much against Jane since he did not want to give Jane any reasons to worry.  Jane, on the other hand, used all her might to help Jacob up and supported his weight as they slowly walked out of the forest. 

For a while, they said nothing to each other.  As they neared the entrance of the forest, Jacob carefully inquired,

“What were you doing in the swamp?”

“…”  There was a long silence as Jane didn’t say a word.

“Jane, please don’t shut me out!   If you are in some kind of trouble, let me help you.  At least allow me to provide you whatever support you need!”  Jacob was sincere in his tone.  It sounded very similar to the conversation the two had earlier by the pool.  Perhaps, this conversation would end the same way.  But, Jacob had to insist one more time.

“I—,” Jane paused for a long couple of seconds then she said slowly, “it’s—, a long and complicated—”

“I think I have time.  Please tell me what’s going on!”  Seeing that Jane was about to open up, Jacob urged while giving his full attention.

They stopped walking as Jane looked deep into Jacob’s eyes and Jacob returned the favor.  Jane believed that Jacob, at this juncture, had the right to know.  Perhaps, knowing what she was involved in would encourage Jacob to let her be and then he would stay safe.  Jane had feelings for Jacob as well.  And, she didn’t want anything to happen to him.

“It all began…,”  Jane began telling her story and disclosed to him everything about what had happened to her from her upbringing, her mother’s illness, how she was recruited by the mysterious man whom she knew only by the title of the director, the surgery, the training…, and finally, this trip.  Jacob did not miss a beat.  As she shared her life story, Jacob’s feelings for Jane grew stronger and he promised that he would keep her safe at all cost. 

“So, who were those guys?” Jacob asked.

“I have never seen them before.  I don’t know why they were after you.”  Jane wished she had more information.  Unfortunately, she didn’t have anything more to share.

“And, the old man?”  Jacob probed.

“Mr. Johansen.  I only know his last name.  He is supposedly the coordinator of my trips.  I mean missions,” Jane continued looking sad and depressed, “from the past training runs to this.  This was my first real big assignment and I didn’t mean to get anyone else involved… Ahh!” With tears forming in her eyes, she sighed.

“Jane, it’s OK.  No one is hurt!” Jacob said, except ‘those two over steroid twins,’ he thought to himself.

“Have you ever seen the director?”  Jacob was wondering.

“No, I only heard his voice.  And, I’m not sure if it was even his own voice or not.  He calls the shots,” said Jane.

“So, this director is the top guy?”  Jacob asked.

“Not sure.  He certainly acts like it.  Although, he did say that “we” made a good choice with respect to recruiting me.  So, possibly there are others that he may be dealing closely with…”

“I think you are right!”  Jane was very perceptive and Jacob knew that Jane’s assumption was correct.  Jacob was always impressed by Jane’s intelligence.  But, now that he saw the bravery in this fragile girl, he grew more respectful of Jane.

“Let’s go find Johansen!”  Jacob said as he began walking back to the hotel, still hoisted by Jane.

“No, we need to fix you up!  We’ll go to medical first!”  Then, they walked slowly back to the resort.


From the roof top of the hotel, thru a pair of black digital vernaculars, Johansen observed Jane and Jacob appearing together at the edge of the forest.  He took a big sip of his Mai-Tai after which he forcefully threw the empty glass on to the floor, shattering it into pieces.  Then, as he turned and slowly walked back into the hotel, he said, “fools,” referring to the over sized incompetent twins.

0 0 votes
Chapter Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments