Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Childhood's End - Chapter 7

After receiving the gun, Rowena went for a quick shower, but her eyes never left the weapon. There was meaning in it, she was certain of that, but what exactly it meant eluded her. She entertained some pragmatic explanations - Mark had already told her his opinion of her Five-seveN -, but the symbolism was almost as clear.

Her sidearm was a weapon of self-defense. The .22? That was the weapon of an assassin.

After dressing in her street clothes, she heard faint thuds echo from across the sublevel and went to investigate; her steps traced a way from the dojo to the firing range, where Mark was busy ripping paper targets to shreds. The noise was bearable behind the armored glass wall that seperated the range from the rest of the facility, so Rowena didn't think it strange that she could sneak up on her teacher. For a moment, she contemplated knocking on the glass, but then she decided that it wasn't a good idea to startle someone with a loaded firearm and leaned back to watch him spray lead at targets 20 meters away.

It was bleedingly obvious that Mark's firing stance would have seen him wash out of any professional training course. First off, he was firing with two guns, which in itself was one of those effort/gain scenarios Rowena wasn't too sure of yet. He was also anything but straight - one could almost describe his stance as hunched over, and his arms were crooked. She soon realized that the position of Mark's body made it impossible for him to use the sights, which baffled her until she forced her focus onto the targets.

With the whole deck stacked against him, he was actually hitting.

Granted, Rowena soon noticed, the accuracy left something to be desired; Mark could've probably nailed a perfect score in a proper stance, but this way most of his lead ended up in the 8s and 9s, with only a few bullseyes. Finally, he was done and secured his USPs, then turned around to face her, wearing a smile and ballistic sunglasses. He walked towards the door, then undid the electronic lock and let her onto the range.

"Ready to start shooting?"
"Yeah, I guess."
"Glasses and plugs are over there on the table, I brought a brick of ammo for your .22 from the armory."

He wasn't exaggerating in the least. Rowena found herself staring at what had to be about 500 rounds of .22 bullets for the Ruger.

"Let's see your stance, first,” he said, then took a step back to let her use the range.

Rowena raised her gun into a classical Weaver stance and aimed down the sights, slowly aligning them with the target ahead of her.

“Not quite it. Spread your feet our more. Make sure your strong arm is straight. Keep the sights level.” Rowena adjusted her stance as Mark said, then recentered her aim; if her gun had been loaded, she would’ve been ready for an easy bullseye.
“Okay. And then?”
“Then you get killed.”

The stance melted as Rowena rolled her eyes and whipped around to face Mark, barely remembering to lower the gun first.

“For the love of God, Simmons. Can't you be straight with me one fucking time?”
“I can’t teach you new stuff if you keep forgetting the old lessons, kid. What’d I teach you about standing still?”
“...a still fighter is a dead fighter,” Rowena said, exhaling a deep breath of frustration.
“Exactly. What were you doing?”
“Standing still.”
“And a still fighter...”
“ a dead fighter.”

Mark nodded.

“Repetition is the way to learn. Now, when I learned to shoot, I went Weaver, too.”
“Yes, but...”
“Let me finish. Back then, everybody was teaching Weaver. It’s a good stance - for the range. Out there, not so much.”
“Then I suppose you want me to go Quasimodo and spray like you?”
“Exactly,” Mark said with a grin. “You’ll get there. But let’s take this from the top." He walked up to her, effortless spun her around to face the targets again, and then began to adjust her stance in earnest. "First off, you need a really strong grip, like you’re trying to crush a grapefruit...”

Needless to say, Rowena was late for work that day.

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